Trying Out PlumChoice

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2008-09-09 Email Print this article Print


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PlumChoice offers turnkey remote support to MSPs and their customers looking to fix thorny desktop PC issues, install new applications or maintain systems.

We took PlumChoice for a quick test drive and were impressed with the results. The process begins with creating an account on the PlumChoice Web site and then logging in to the service. Once logged in, the user can select what type of service is needed, ranging from troubleshooting and repair to fixed-fee services, such as spyware removal and PC tune-ups. Once a service is selected, the user will select how to pay for the service (in our case, we had a discount code, so no credit card info was needed) and then schedule when the service will take place.

The trick here is to schedule an "appointment" that best suits your availability. We chose to have our appointment take place at the top of the hour and were informed that a technician would contact us via the phone number we provided within 1 hour of our appointment time. During our test, we received a call from the technician within a matter of minutes. One word of warning: Users must be available for their appointments and if a user misses the appointment, there will be a penalty fee applied to the account. Users also should give themselves ample time to reschedule or change any appointments to avoid rescheduling fees.

When setting up the account, users can also input the specifications of a computer and build an inventory of systems to be serviced. That inventory is populated via pull-down menus and predefined selections. We were surprised to find Lenovo absent from the list of PC brands, so we had to choose "other" for our subject system.

We requested spyware removal and a tune-up for our test system, a Lenovo ThinkPad T61p notebook system running Windows Vista Ultimate edition. PlumChoice offers dozens of service options, each with its own pricing structure, from a $129.00 system tune-up to pay-by-the-minute general services. The test system was experiencing slowdowns, pop-ups and other problems that indicated that there was a malware problem of some type.

After a service request is filled out on the site, users receive an e-mail confirmation for the service call and are given instructions on what to do. The technician will initiate the service call by contacting the user via the contact phone number selected.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at


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