Staples has come out with its own version of a home IT help team called the Easy Mobile Tech (EMT) service.
The EMTs are Staples-trained and certified technology experts and can handle a variety of consumer and small office issues, ranging from basic PC installation to setting up a wireless network. The EMTs are all Staples employees, and the service is the end result of an internal two-year developmental program, said Bradley White, Staples' product services director.
The EMT service is now available nationwide with individual EMT teams handling districts that each include several Staples locations. The service's finishing touches, which include their own distinctive vehicle and EMT uniform, are only partially rolled out, but White expects those aspects of the program to be online shortly. For competitive reasons White would not say how many workers are part of the EMT program.
The EMT service has a basic pricing structure for jobs. For $99, an EMT comes to a consumer's home and will diagnose or troubleshoot a problem, or will install a simple PC or wireless network. If a printer or other peripheral is added to the installation, pricing starts at $149.
Appointments can be made by calling (866) 4EZ-TECS (a toll-free number), visiting a Staples store or during one of the clinics that the EMTs will be hosting at Staples. White said a customer will receive a return call no later than four hours after the customer has made contact, and the EMTs' hours are flexible enough to meet the customer's needs.
“If we have to be there on Saturday morning or Friday night at 7 p.m., we will,” he said.
The services pilot program has already handled several thousand calls, White said, adding that the majority have been from consumers, not small businesses. He does expect the SO/HO segment of the business to increase.
The EMTs' free clinics are designed to give the public useful tips on wireless network installation or basic PC maintenance. The classes will be every Wednesday in one of the stores in an EMT team's district. The team will place a sign out front announcing the clinic and Staples will support this with local marketing initiatives.
The EMTs will fix or install equipment purchased from any retailer, White said, adding that Staples has no plan to alter or increase its computer hardware and software merchandise mix to coincide with the EMT service launch.