Rip-off PC shops exposed in the UK

By Justin
Jul 22, 2009
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  1. If you spend any time on our forums, you\'ll know that a lot of members worked at one point or another as a PC repair tech. And for all of those who have, you might find this next story very interesting. An independent research team went to town in probing a series of PC repair shops, coming to unsurprising conclusions. Numerous shops surveyed were found to be outright ripping customers off, ranging from lying about repair requirements to stealing data stored on machines.

    Read the whole story
  2. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,328   +376

    About a month ago there was a similar consumer protection article floating around - unfortunately I can't find it. But these consumer advocates simply unplugged the hard drive and then shopped it around at various repair places to see who was honest and who was not. For the most part (especially at the small "mom and pop" computer repair businesses), they plugged the hard drive back in and returned the PC with no charge. HOWEVER...they took it to Best Buy where the "Geek Squad" told them that the PC had all sorts of issues, was out of date, blah, blah, blah... and the best solution was to buy a new one, They then proceeded with a heavy-handed sales pitch.

    I've told my non-tech friends in no uncertain terms to never take a "broken" PC to a repair shop until I've had a chance to check it out. Many of them have been burned for hundreds of dollars and duped into buying expensive and worthless anti-virus utilities to "fix" their problem. It's disgusting...
  3. TheJediSlayer

    TheJediSlayer Newcomer, in training Posts: 182

    Well, although I am not a certified IT repair tech, yet. I sure am glad that I know how to work and diagnose my own PC. I only wish that I knew how to work on cars. :/
  4. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,526   +856

    This may be what you're looking for; http://www.techspot.com/vb/topic127939.html
  5. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,392   +16

    No shock there by any means, in my own town I see it and can't stand it. I'm like Tom on this I tell ALL my friends/family come to me FIRST before anyone else. I even had "family friends" overcharge a family member for a simple fix that would have taken me a few minutes and be free. With more and more novice PC users I don't see this really changing. Kind of like some of the mechanics out there - fix one thing break another. The fields reputation has taken a beating.
  6. JudaZ

    JudaZ TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 294

    There are a lot of "strange" repairshops out there, but also some of these tests of them are not well executed. Seen a big test they did in Sweden.
    They did similar to the Best Buy and Geeksquad story above.

    They unplugged a cable, changed a small value in the bios or something simple.

    The problem with this test was that they came in, described the problem. ...alot of techs responded by saying it sounded like a harddrive failure, and so would I have.

    They say a price to fix it, if the harddrive in fact is broken.... Then the "fake" customer left the shop. The Tech never got a chance to look at the machine! Im sure that most of the repair shops would have plugged in the cable and resturned the computer to the custumer, once they open the machine and see the cable is disconnected....but the person conducting the test has tried to simulate a filed harddrive. Sure they will get that answer, that the HDD probably is broken and gice a estimated price to fix the computer.

    Some stores they actually got a chance to fix the machine, and most of them found the problem easy and told the customer the correct problem, and taking a service change, och sometimes returning the fixed computer for free. Others never got a change, they estimated a price, the fake customers left, just so they could point to the stores they wanted and claim they werent serious.

    Its all in how the test is conducted as well .
  7. Gordon9999

    Gordon9999 Newcomer, in training Posts: 72

    I have seen computer shops with the only intention to take as much of your money as they possibly can. I have found ways to spot these types of organizations by watching their mannerisms.

    At a good shop with employees that work with only the best intentions for their customers seem to be passionate about the work they do and will talk to you about the problems your computer is having. Where as a rip off shop will give you a sudden quick and usually pricey response to your problems with no options or understanding of what the problem is. You can tell by how quickly they are trying to get your approval for changes and new parts and send you out the door.
    I have never been rushed for any decision without a good conversation with options on the table when dealing with a computer shop that is legitimate.

    To sum it up, look for a computer tech shop that is interested in your computer and interested in making you comfortable with any changes. If you feel uncomfortable or uncertain it is usually a good chance you’re getting ripped off.
  8. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 Newcomer, in training Posts: 6,504

    No surprise here at all. I once got a machine back with a knackered hard drive, was told it must have been that way before I handed it in but they would be happy to sell me another one. I started doing all this stuff for myself after that,

    Another store wanted £40 for a RAID controller and another £40 to fit it! They would not sell it on its own, it was them fitting it for the extra £40 or nothing. I told them what I thought of that and never went back in.

    Another place sold stuff I KNEW was old returns. When I bought the stuff back they shouted at me and told me I broke it deliberately and that they "see this all the time."

    Another place sold packs of 500 blank CDs, any randomly selected one did not work, producing a coaster. On return, their story was that there was no warranty and no refund available. When asked to see the manager they said "he's busy."

    Cowboys. Bloody cowboys.

    Someone should start a website to rate these PC shops so you can check if they are cowboys.
  9. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,304   +52 Staff Member

    I've seen plenty of it myself.

    I have clients come to me after they've been (often times unknowingly) burned by Geek Squad etc... and often times, what used to be a $500 motherboard replacement turns out to be a $65 PSU swap or a $99 power jack sodlering. $400 LCD screen replacements turn out to be a $65 inverter swap... A $1000 data recovery job turns out to be something chkdsk fixes...

    Often times, these things are true after a supposedly *proper* diagnosis that the client has already paid for. Mistakes happen, but this is just awful. Simply awful.

    I've also worked for a small-time, 'dirty' computer shop before. I couldn't take enough showers to clean myself off after a dishonest day's work. I kept myself from being inolved with *most* of the crap, but I'll never do that again. Never.

    I like to believe that the majority of shops are decent, not much more than the 'majority'. Also, I imagine mechanics aren't much better.
  10. TorturedChaos

    TorturedChaos TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 843   +11

    Its seems from my experience the 'tech' for best buys geek squad know less than 90% of the people on this site. so far i have never heard a word of praise for any 'tech' from the geek squad.

    I actually applied for a job on the geek squad couple years back, but because I didn't have any certification or an associates degree they wouldn't hire me. Oh yah and I failed there personality test. That made me laugh. They rate you with either a double green (good) red/green (possibly) or double red (not a chance in hell). I got double red. He said even if I had 10 years experience fixing computers he couldn't hire me. I think that explains a lot of there problems. They care more about your personality than your experience.
  11. Hang on a second, just to get this debate a little more balanced,

    I would like to say that some of those punters who get "cheated" actually deserve it!!!.

    I worked as a PC tech and the number of times I was not paid and was double booked, (turned up at the door only to find another repair tech had arrived five minutes earlier) and generaly F***ed about. Even though I operated within my parameters of "No fix no fee" promise.

    The People who just avoid payment should be blacklisted along with the dodgy Repairs shops and placed in a data base so that "Honest hardworking Repair techs" can do background checks before contracting.

    And I'm still owed money

    Happy computing
     
  12. I have had my own computer consulting business for over 25 years. (started out in CP/M). My policy is, and always has been, "If I can't fix it, you don't pay." I don't, and have never, advertised, and I have all the business I can handle. If you are honest, have reasonable rates, and are competent at what you do you can be very successful in this business, even in a recession. I have clients that I've serviced for more than 15 years. I started out in a business that was not a "woman's job" and had a lot of early resistance. I am a teacher by nature, and I gave free classes at a local computer club when I first started in business in the early 80s. In that way I established that I was knowledgeable and proficient in my field.

    The industry needs honest, proficient consultants. If you treat your client base well, don't overcharge, don't do unnecessary work, they will keep you in business through tough financial times.

    Sharon
  13. pmshah

    pmshah Newcomer, in training Posts: 81

    I second that experience. In November of last year I was visiting my daughter in NJ. I went to a Best Buy outlet looking for a low cost USB wireless ethernet dongle. These so called "Geek Squad" fellows did not know their a****le from a hole in the ground.

    I left in disgust and decided never to return to that place.
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