Well, first of all it has been too long since we had a post, I hope to improve the frequency of them this year.
Second Free Geek Twin Cities has changed some, mostly for the good, but like all organizations we are constantly evolving. On big change, and what prompted me to make this post is that we now have a phone. We have in the past used the cost or our infrequent hours to justify not having one, but it was time. We needed a way for volunteers to contact people for rides, and have a way for people we communicate with to contact us. But having said that, what the phone is becoming is something that will not go far. Free Geek is a Volunteer run organization, we have staff that is unpaid and commits time to help others. We do not consider telephone support to be part of that volunteer program, and going forward we may answer the phone (during normal hours only) if we are not busy with face to face volunteers, if you call expect to get put through to voice mail, and a response will happen when we have staff level volunteers available to check voice mail. The incident that prompted this post was from a person who bought a laptop, and was unhappy that it was not what he/she expected. They had to upgrade the memory to install windows, and buy windows. Now first Free Geek installs Linux only on our non-Apple computers. We do not do Windows, there are big box stores all around that do. Second this person was upset, and swore at the staff person whom he did get through to, that will be met with a quick disconnect if it happens again, swear all you want, just do not waste our time with your useless rant.
If you have a problem with a computer, call, you will be told the next time that there may (yes may, we do not pay people, so they show up when they want to) have somebody that you can bring the machine back down to Free Geek to assist you. We are not going to solve problems over the phone as a rule, but each staff person can chose this or if they feel they have the time, and want to it is their option to try.
We have amazing volunteers, they are the only reason we can offer computers for sale at prices that are below most other similar computers, the other side of that is the fact that these units have been donated. They each have a different reason that they are donated, but most often it is because they are having a issue, or are in need of upgrades. We only sell donated computers, not new, not state of the art, not ones that would cost thousands elsewhere. On average our donations start at 4 years old, and we do our best to test these units as we can. We have many steps that each system goes through before it is put up for sale, even then there are still problems. We note the problems we feel do not make the unit unusable, but please keep in mind that this is still a used unit, running a operating system that is not quite as burdensome as Windows.
Our goal is to provide a place to get computers that can surf the web, watch You Tube videos, perform basic Word Processing, into the hands of people who cannot afford a couple hundred dollars for a computer. We sell working systems starting at $25 (with out a monitor, or we can provide a CRT monitor). Our systems of course include better units, but they still are used and while they sell for more than $25, they are going through the same testing and configuration as them.
Our Thrift Store helps significantly pay our expenses, but it is not the focus of the organization, it is just part of it. If you are expecting a Big Box Store type machine, there are several around, Richfield has the world wide Headquarters of one that sells systems that may be of your need, otherwise if you are looking to help keep electronics waste from a landfill while re-using a machine that has not quite out lived its capacity, stop on down to 2537 25th ave south (back of the building)