back to article BBC Watchdog crew sink teeth into dodgy PC repair shops

The reputation of the UK's computer repair industry took another hammering last week following a BBC Watchdog investigation into two Worcestershire-based computer repair firms. The flagship consumer affairs programme looked into Click 4 PC and Click Computers in response to reports from viewers about missing personal data, …

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  1. Chad H.

    A bit late on this, but better than never I suppose.

    However, I do have an issue with the Watchdog process. The fault they created was hardly a natural one - in my experience, Jumpers do not move themselves. Would have been better I thought if they had a fault that did not require someone to be physically screwing around inside the PC to make happen.

    1. GettinSadda

      My exact thoughts. I would have probably either dislodged a SIMM, or perhaps a SATA cable so it was half-way out. Better yet, you could move a cable so that it was rubbing against the CPU fan (or better yet the case fan where it is unlikely to cause serious damage even if the fan stops) - then tell them that it seems to be working, but you are worried about the noise it has started making.

    2. the-it-slayer
      Stop

      That's not the point...

      The point was that there are plenty of computers with IDE drives still sitting in them and the technician didn't even bother to try and diagnose the issue. Quick assessment of the BIOS would of given you a clue the drive was still readable and then working your way down to cabling and bravo... checking jumpers. Any technician that's been in the IT industry for the last 10 years plus should know jumpers were a key part of the setup.

      It was a clear cut example to show up the companies inadequacies to even follow a simple procedure for repairs and employed any old plod off the street; even without the skills required. Even if the engineer was new to the industry, if it'd been taken back; you'd except experts at the HQ to identify it and honestly charge the right amount to fix that issue.

      For an industry that's quite in need for a regulator monitoring these cowboys (as I've heard plenty of horror stories - even with PC World and their bunch of numpties doing similar things) , on the flipside - it's an easy money maker if you know your stuff.

      I did a lot of PC repairs on the side for friends/family. The problem is that it does take a lot of time to do diagnosis and extensive issue resolving if it's software based. That's why I gave up helping friends of family as it just screwed me for time with my full-time IT job.

      I'm sure there are plenty of legitimate and honest PC repair businesses out there; but in the cold light of day of 2012; there's so many tick boxes to go through to make sure you're complying to data protection. I can understand the responsibility of the data should of been with the care home in their case; but an honest company would of flagged it up with them and sent the hardware back or advised them what to do before processing them for resale or replacements.

      1. Anonymous Coward 101

        Re: That's not the point...

        The trouble with regulation is with how you allow some people to work in computer repairs, and some not. I can imagine there will be a lot of highly capable people working in the industry who have no formal qualifications in computers, and chancing spivs who do.

        1. the-it-slayer

          Re: That's not the point...

          I guess it's a place to go to complain and allow a regulator to stop the companies trading/shut them down until they get straight and obey the laws etc. Same as the food industry. They can shut any restaurant down for only a cock-roaches after a couple of appearances and force them to do something about and stop their profits until they clean up.

          It's up to a company if they employ qualified, competent or numpties. That's their reputation on the line.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: That's not the point...@AC 101

          Well, that's assuming they go for some "certificate of competence" approach. I'd guess the probable outcome of more BBC inspired regulation would either be a completely useless "code of conduct", or an industry ombudsman who might find in your favour, but not before the fly by nights have shut the company down and started a new one to do the same thing. I don't think most of the regulaotrs we have are exactly high flying consumer champions are they?

          You're right if you are suggesting that we don't need more regulation. All that's needed is for the existing trading standards to do their job. If they claim they don't have the resources, then bankroll them with fines and asset confiscations from the guilty. And if they have the resources but can't do the job, then sack them, and contract trading standards to an adjacent council who can do the job.

      2. Joe 48

        Re: That's not the point...

        I've corrected this for you

        "I can understand the responsibility of the data IS with the care home." No should about it. They own the data they are responsible for its correct handling and disposal. Ignorance is not an excuse. Its not just digital stuff either.

        "The ICO served Belfast Health and Social Care (BHSC) Trust with a £225,000 fine after patient and staff records left at an abandoned hospital site were photographed by trespassers and posted on the internet."

        "The Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust was slapped with a £90,000 penalty after the serious breach of the Data Protection Act that saw the trust send around 45 faxes over three months to the wrong place."

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. the-it-slayer
        Facepalm

        Re: Cover Up for Jimmy Saville

        Are you on crack or something?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cover Up for Jimmy Saville

        Ok... Own up, who are you - Yassar or Amir Rashid?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IIRC they installed a new but unformatted drive and then set it to the master with a jumper, which is kind of an important thing to miss out when telling the engineer what's gone wrong. Most people would assume that the drive has gone wonky. It's a bit like calling out the AA because your car's not working and forgetting to mention that you took the cylinders out, cut a bit off the end and put them back again. The AA guy just isn't going to get that.

      Doesn't stop them being total dishonest rip-off merchants though.

    5. leexgx

      do people still have Working IDE systems :)

      any way Moving an hard drive jumper in this day and age is poor showing on Watchdog as Jumpers do not Move them self's (i would of worked that out in the end any way) but the company was dodgy any way so did not matter really

      i mite of had some one Check on me about 3-4 years ago as i come across an pc that seemed like it was Setup for me to fix (problem that could of only been made by some one not by mistake like, Watchdog moving jumpers that do not move them self)

      the Ram or lose IDE cable is what they should of done as some jobs i do come across are in fact lose ram

      1. Trygve Henriksen

        Actually, I have seen and fixed a computer where a jumper had come loose on the HDD. Of course, the cable was loose, too...

        That computer was a custom 'industrial' PC from the 90s, with a chassis of 2mm steel plating, front bezel made of CNC-worked aluminium and a rubber-keyed keyboard. Cards and cables inside was fastened down with zip-ties...

        It was used on a mobile drilling rig to measure and interpret vibrations to map the rock layers.

        Not exactly the type of PC that you'd expect to hand over to any 'PC fixup' centre in town.

        (Later that computer got a FLASH drive instead of a HDD, and every connector and jumper was covered in clear silicone)

    6. Jimboom
      WTF?

      @Chad 14:44

      I disagree Chad, any technician worth their salt will know that sure you may get some useful information from the customer to try troubleshoot the problem but you should ALWAYS assume that they are not telling you the full story. Whether it be the fact that they let their child/friend/neighbour who "knows about computers" have a crack at fixing it first and in fact made the problem worse, or if they are not telling you about all the dodgy websites they went on which resulted in them becoming more virus ridden then a cheap dockside prostitute.

      So yes, while you are right, jumpers don't move themselves, but you don't know if someone did or didn't screw around in a pc when you repair it. And of course if someone tries to fix it and fails they are not going to admit it.

    7. Alan Edwards

      Yep, I'd agree. If the report was "it was working, now it's dead" I wouldn't suspect the jumpers. In trying the drive in a different machine I might spot it, but my first thought would be a drive failure (aka good excuse for an SSD upgrade...).

      If they came clean and said "I installed this and it doesn't work", drive jumpers would be on the list.

      I'm with the rest, I'd have made a cable half-off or CPU fan failure.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Joe 48

    The Real Issue

    Dodgy computer repairs, tell me something I don't know. Happens all the time.

    The bigger issue in all this is the HDD with Medical Records on it. The ICO should be having words with that care home ASAP.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: The Real Issue

      Yeah!! I also know about some stuff. It's really irritating when the BBC waste license payers money investigating stuff that I already know! Bunch of idiots!!

    2. dannypoo
      Thumb Down

      ICO

      but (this is hardly a stretch) perhaps that 'second hand' hard drive came from a PC that was nicked from the care home? If these people are as unscrupulous as they appear then it wouldn't be surprising if they were using stolen goods as cheap sources of parts...

      1. Joe 48

        Re: ICO

        Data with a classification of that level should be encrypted at rest. Stolen or not the care home own the data and as such are responsible for its safe keeping.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ICO

          If the computer was kept in a secure room there is no need for the data to be encrypted. I've worked in many places, military, financial and communications amongst them, with sensitive data, and the data has never been encrypted.

          Maybe the care home sent the disk to be erased to what they thought to be a reliable disk wiping company. Those companies are probably more worthy of an investigation than PC repair shops.

          1. Joe 48

            Re: ICO

            Secure room in a care home I doubt hence mentioning whole disk encrpytion. I do agree that secure rooms like those used by Military and Governemnt bodies are of a high enough standard to not require encrypytion at rest. I know, I maintain a couple of them :)

            As for sending the disk off it still doesn't devoid the care home of responsibility. But yes those companies should be audited more.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ICO

              A secure room in a care home could simply be one with locked windows and doors. Many people keep guns, or at least used to, in nothing more than a secured, as in bolted down, safe in their homes.

              Having a disk processed by a disk erasing company, especially one which displayed the relevant iso gubbings(*), would absolve the care home from responsibility as they would have shown due dilligence.

              (*) When did anyone ever verify that those displayed logos were actually awarded and let's not get started on whether the prove anything even if they were.

              1. Fatman

                Re: ...absolve the care home from responsibility

                IF the hard drive was run through one of these:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yd_O7-rqcHc

                Try to recover that data!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ICO

          Medical data gets gets a restricted classification, although in sensitive cases such as is the case here it could go as far a confidential. Both are pretty lax, amounting to nothing more than keeping data out of public hands and storing under lock and key when not in use. There is no requirement for encryption until you hit the secret classification. Pretending otherwise is at least misrepresenting the actual regulations and avoids dealing with the actual issue in favour of an unnecessary knee-jerk response.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chad H

    Even if the guy they sent out didn't spot it I'd have thought they would have checked it when they took it in for repair while checking the cables, they are supposed to be experts after all.

    There was no excuse for some of the alleged advice dished out to the 'new recruit'

    I do despair at what these companies charge for five minute fixes

    1. Chad H.

      Re: @Chad H

      I definitely agree that there was no excuse in the overall result they gave, the company is obviously dodgy. However I think that to truly evaluate them in the real world, a "real world" fault should been provided - some good ideas given before about SIMMS that can become dislodged accidentally if it were kicked or dropped or something.

      By instead going for a fault that can't naturally occur, they firstly tilt the field against the PC repair company, rather than being balanced, and secondly put the rest of their investigation at risk... Its certainly a suspicious fault to miraculously occur, one that might convince you that someone might be watching.

      1. Marcelo Rodrigues
        Devil

        Re: @Chad H

        I'm sorry, but I disagree. I have worked doing this, and there is ONE thing I learned: Never, NEVER, blind trust the client. He doesn't know better - if he knew, wouldn't paying you, would he?

        I'm not saying the customer is stupid - far from it. But "it doesn't work" cover everything - from a disconnected power cord to a machine belching smoke.

        So, yes. The problem doesn't occur naturally - but you cannot trust the customer saying "I did nothing!". Hence, they should check the machine. From head to toe, so to speak.

  5. jason 7

    I often fix for free if its less than 5 minutes....

    ...as the customer is so pleased they usually come back.

    I've always maintained I'd rather do 4 successful jobs for a customer at £50 each than one at £100 and never see them again. It's all about relationship management, I now get asked round my customers for dinner they trust me so much!

    I've often been told by a customer when I charge say £60 for a fairly simple but time intensive job, "Oh wow the other guys wanted £300!!!"

    The other guys? PC World.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: I often fix for free if its less than 5 minutes....

      Good on ya! Seriously, if more (competent) places behaved this way, they'd put the dodgy shops out of business.

    2. GettinSadda

      Re: I often fix for free if its less than 5 minutes....

      I used to do a few computer repairs to friends-of-freinds and often got them to pay for parts at cost (they would be able to order online or I would give them the invoice from the shop) and I charged a flat per-hour charge.

    3. Fatman

      Re: I often fix for free if its less than 5 minutes....

      Which is admirable, but it doesn't pay the bills.

      I know someone who normally charges $45 for a "diagnosis" charge, but tells the customer up front that if he is able to quickly fix the issue (loose cables, etc), he only charges $20 for a "troubleshooting". Like the 'freebie", this engenders goodwill, but still allows some income opportunity for for his expenditure of time.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    $45 to stuff a box

    When I stuff a box, some guys always say no drive. Shops should have a spare drive just for setting up boxes, or having a load on the supply, but it doesn't need to be their drive you can slave one in, and be a privacy friendly operation.

    I hope that makes sense.

  7. Da Weezil
    Mushroom

    Regulators are usually really just masturbators

    A regulator? To look after out interests? To prevent industry abuses and bad practice?

    You mean like OFCOM.. The ASA.. Phonepayplus....

    Yes they have been really effective haven't they? Never any problems in the fields overseen by them....

    Regulators are just members of the old boy network in cushy well paid jobs.

    What we need are some decent trading standards prosecutions resulting in some painful and memorable penalties. Its eems to be a thing in the UK. If its an individual stpeeing across the lien then the world falls in on his head... let a business take the p*** and they get a slap on the wrist and asked nicely not to do it again (e.g.Virgin Media and Talk Talk ads)

    1. jason 7
      Meh

      Re: Regulators are usually really just masturbators

      I can imagine if there was regulation it would cost me a fortune to comply and it would put me out of business.

      Who would be left? The big store guys that don't get out of bed for less than £200 a job that they can't even fix. You know who.

      I guess we'll see.

  8. Dave McEneaney

    Agreement

    I agree with the first couple of posters. The actor who was playing the customer told the engineer that it had been working, then getting slower and slower then just stopped. The ONLY way the jumper would have moved would have been for someone to deliberately mess with it. I've lost what little faith I had in Watchdog because they conned the repairman.

    I'd probably have taken the box away, put a new hard drive in it ANYWAY and then attempted to get the guy's data across - which would have worked if the drive wasn't faulty. I'd have probably charged around £60 + a brand new quality HDD at £40.

    The £200 was a joke, and re-using a hard drive is unacceptable. The rest of the interview with the crooked managers was fine, but the young engineer shouldn't really be blamed - I know plenty of people who can put PCs together that are that age and probably have never seen a master/slave jumper, and if they have, it'd've always been set to auto select.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Agreement

      Yup, I'd not baulk at charging £100 if the owner assured me it was working and then I found he's moved the jumper, call it an idiot tax.

      At least if you call a repair company TELL them that you'd been trying yourself.

      It's like the place I work "what were you doing when it failed ?"

      "nothing"

      "then why is there a USB stick plugged in here when the company rules state that it is a dismissal offence?"

      " but joe of accounts reckons it's a movie about cars, you wont tell my manager will you"

      "NO, we have to inform Compliance, they'll contact you later, and your machine will be removed until then"

      Cue all sorts of shouting and calling IT support funny names

    2. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: Agreement

      "I'd probably have taken the box away, put a new hard drive in it ANYWAY and then attempted to get the guy's data across - which would have worked if the drive wasn't faulty. I'd have probably charged around £60 + a brand new quality HDD at £40."

      What you would >not< have done was attempt to screw as much cash from the customer for entirely substandard work - which is the point of the program. Had there been an earnest attempt to fix the computer in the case featured, then I'd bet Watchdog would not have screened the feature.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Agreement

      >together that are that age and probably have never seen a master/slave jumper, and if they have, it'd've always been set to auto select.

      If someone asked me to fix a computer with a drive that still had jumpers I'd tell them to buy a new system and offer to recover the data. Having said that, it's not really difficult to figure out when the jumpers are not correct. I disagree with the auto-select position, I never trust auto-anything.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Agreement

        I've still got a system with IDE drives (and so with jumpers) It still works fine and I have no need to upgrade. So why would I have to buy a new system?? (Of course I'm also capable of using a boot disk to repair a borked computer and I'm smart enough not to bork it in the first place :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Agreement

          If something still works fine or you are competent enough to go digging around the innards yourself there is no need to upgrade, whoever said you should? However when something gets to a certain age and starts to go wrong it will generally cause more trouble in the not too distant future. So for Joe Public the most cost effective solution is a new box. This applies to most things, cars, microwaves, washing machines, whatever. My general rule is that I will pay for one major repair, after that, it's a replacement.

          Remember, we are not talking about "US" but your average consumer.

      2. DieSse

        Re: Agreement

        " I disagree with the auto-select position, I never trust auto-anything."

        If you really know about these things you would know it's called "Cable Select", and you would know how to use it, and that if it's used there is nothing untrustworthy about it - it works.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Agreement @DieSee

          Oooh, you bitch, choose your weapon, handbags or stilettos (heels that is).

        2. Rebecca M

          Re: Agreement

          Cable select works well until it doesn't. As soon as you encounter even a handful of instances where particular devices refuse to play ball you switch over almost instantly to never trusting it again.

  9. ukgnome

    I watched and thought the same as you all. That's not a fault as such but it should of been spotted by the "engineer" It made me quite angry, as my own home repair business failed, and mainly because I wasn't ripping off people. I refused to con people, and refused to profiteer.

    The interview that was carried out in front of the slime balls solicitor was humorous though, I just hope that idiots like that are run out of dodge!

  10. JimmyPage

    And before that, it was car mechanics ...

    the problem is not the industry needs regulation, the problem is the customers just don't have the level of knowledge to guard against shysters. Same in personal finance, or medical matters. The only reason the world of medicine is so regulated, is because dodgy doctors can leave a trail of dead people.

    I have very limited sympathy for people who get ripped of in these cases. Take my Mother in Law, for example. You'd think she'd know I have a passing competence in IT - quite aside from my day job as support engineer, programmer, senior developer, manager, consultant and the number of times I have sorted her sodding email out. Yet she spunked £600 on a new machine (nothing wrong with the old) last year after a 30 second chat with a "nice man in PC World". Why ? He said machines "can wear out after a couple of years". I was told this with a slight sniff of disapproval, as if *I* should have known that. Although in hindsight, he did me a favour - I haven't been asked to fix anything since then. Not because it hasn't gone wrong - just the first time it happened, I suggested she speak to the experts rather than me ... I don't think she picked up the sarcasm, but age tends to bring a certain unwillingness to apologise.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101
      Thumb Down

      Re: And before that, it was car mechanics ...

      You are not differentiating between a salesman drumming up business and an out-and-out crook not doing what he was paid to - not that you would have sympathy if your mother was ripped off by an out-and-out crook.

      1. JimmyPage

        Re: And before that, it was car mechanics ...

        Mother *in-law* :)

        The point I was making that if you go into a shop, and ask someone who works IN THAT SHOP what they suggest, it really is not worthy of a headline if they suggest something which makes them money. Ironically the only people who can't get away with this are lawyers. However you have to pay them *before* you get the advice.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And before that, it was car mechanics ...

          Er - no. The only point I could see was bruised ego on your part. Given your long list of everyday responsibilities, maybe she thought you'd be too busy to do something she thought would be more involved than email? Or more likely picked up your arrogance when you were sarcastic with her and decided to prick your balloon a little.

    2. lorisarvendu
      FAIL

      Re: And before that, it was car mechanics ...

      Reminds me of a tale. My wife's work colleague had a PC problem so the wife said I'd be glad to take a look. Went out and it was the old "insert boot device" problem. Went into BIOS and no drives showing. At that point I asked her if it was under warranty. She said she thought so. I said ok, it's most likely one of two things. IDE cable dislodged, or drive power cable dislodged...but it could be a drive failure, and if it's under warranty I'll invalidate it by opening it up. I asked her to check and if it wasn't under warranty, contact me again and I'll come and sort it. Never heard any more from her. Asked the wife months later what happened. She checked with the woman, and it turned out the PC was out of warranty, but they "didn't like to bother me again". So they called in a bloke out of the paper. He took the lid off, pushed the IDE cable back in and charged her £35. I would have done the same thing for a couple of cans of beer.

  11. Jediben
    WTF?

    Is this any different to the motoring industry? Does the garage on the corner have a regulator?

    How about the carpet fitters, where is their regulated body?

    Can we expect to see a regulator for my local hairdressers, I mean how do I know how qualified the guy with the scissors really is?

    Caveat Emptor!

    1. Grumble

      Carpet Fitters

      No regulator for carpet fitters, but with carpets, you can at least see if it's a crap job by just looking at it. If it is, don't pay. Simple. Been doing it for forty years now and never been refused payment. :)

  12. That Steve Guy
    Pint

    How about PC world?

    I cannot keep up with the stories from non-techie colleagues who have had a bad experience with PC World.

    It gets to the point where I literally tell people to avoid them and me or my colleagues end up fixing stuff on the side for them.

    Seems rip off merchants are everywhere. Still we take payment in beer for our services.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about PC world?

      Some things I have heard from PC world "tech guys"

      WiFi is meant to drop out

      Home networks are not safe if you do them yourself

      Free antivirus usually has malware in it

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Free antivirus usually has malware in it

        I was told roughly the same thing in PC World Canterbury when buying a laptop a few years ago. The salesperson was trying to up-sell Norton AV to me and was dismissive when I said I was going to run AVG.

        She still works there...

        I was also told by another salesperson that I would need dedicated graphics for video editing.

      2. michytee

        Re: How about PC world?

        Yup! I find it hard not to intervene in that place when I overhear the rubbish they tell innocent customers. Stpped going in there cos I couldn't keep a straight face!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Company Name

    Any company which has "4" in the title instead of "for" should be treated as dodgy in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: Company Name

      Also any company selling 'solutions'.

      1. LinkOfHyrule

        Re: Company Name

        Also any company name with "the" as the first word and/or "helpline" as the last word.

      2. Michael Dunn
        Joke

        Re: Company Name

        "Any company selling 'solutions'" Pharmacists manage to get away with this.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Company Name

          Add companies that start with EZ or AAA

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Company Name

      About 10 years ago, I worked for a firm trading as 'Services4IT'. They went out of business after a year :/

  14. M Gale

    What about Apple?

    Twice, a friend of mine has had cracks developing on his Macbook Pro. This is apparently a known issue and repairable under warranty.

    Once, it got repaired.

    The second time? Well, Apple still have the macbook. He's given up asking for a repair and just wants the damned thing back so he can sell it with the cracks. Apple will not return it, Trading Standards will not help and he's got no idea when or even if he will ever see his very expensive computer again.

    So come on, Watchdog. Stop going after the easy targets.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      WTF?

      Re: What about Apple?

      He does have a receipt from Apple for the machine, right?

      Go to the store, ask to see the manager, tell him you're not leaving until you get a written notice from him giving the date you can pick up your machine. No written notice, you're not leaving. Tell him he can call whoever he has to.

      If no notice received by closing time, write to Tim Cook in Cupertino, giving the details and the manager's name, and mention he'll be going to the press in 3 weeks if he doesn't hear anything. Betcha he'll get a nice shiny new MacBook and an apology within 3 weeks.

      1. M Gale

        Re: What about Apple?

        Unfortunately this person has Chrons amongst other rather nasty maladies. He could sit there in the store for hours, but only if wearing adult nappies, yaknow?

        I think he's tried a lot of the above, but I'll suggest it anyway. If no luck, maybe The Reg would like to pick up a story about a practically-disabled feller who's been without a thousand pound's worth of laptop for months so far.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about Apple?

          He could stage a dirty protest.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about Apple?

      AFAIK he is the legal owner, so maybe just go to the police and report it as a theft )IANAL; though). The only problem is the police has become somewhere close to useless for anything that doesn't generate instant revenue. I'm a bit surprised Consumer Direct isn't helping - is there something that is missing from this story? They normally *like* to flex their muscles to show they can.

      Maybe take this to the regular press with this after you have given them their last chance (assuming the missing bit above turns this into a different story). The press is always on the user's side, and a chance to create headlines about Apple may just be enough to make them overcome the natural editorial hesitation to piss of a major source of advertising revenue.

      I'm about to create merry hell for a bank that way for handing off the contents of a small company bank account to a crook who wasn't even on the mandate..

  15. Emmett Jenner
    Stop

    Don't forget. It does cost £120.00 to run a company in the UK that sends technicians out to swap a jumper switch on an old mans' computer. Out of that £120.00 you have business rates, salaries for the office staff, salaries for the technician, corporation tax, rent for the office, costs for the phones, mobile phones and internet connections, office equipment, technicians equipment, insurance, a van, fuel, electricity, water, a sink in the kitchen. When the total cost of doing that job is taken into account it does cost a lot more than anyone would expect. Then you have the problem of whether or not the old geeza would pay up when you spent 5 minutes on site and asked for £120.00 - see the problem. The firm has massive costs required to operate. The customers will not pay massive prices for small jobs. Somethings got to give somewhere. It is wrong for them to lie and cheat their customers but there aren't many alternatives.

    1. Vic

      > It does cost £120.00 to run a company in the UK that sends technicians out

      No it doesn't.

      I have a minimum call-out of 1 hour for such jobs - as do most of my colleagues and my competitors. I'm towards the more expensive end of the scale, but I'm nowhere near that sort of cost.

      Vic.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Emmett Jenner

      >It is wrong for them to lie and cheat their customers but there aren't many alternatives

      You almost had me up to that point. Not many alternatives to cheating customers and lying to them. Charging a reasonable amount and telling the truth sound like a couple of good ones.

    3. ukgnome
      Coffee/keyboard

      @Emmett Jenner

      When I had my business this was considered a fair tariff.

      NO call out fee

      Fixed hourly rate - £30 for joe public, £50 for businesses, £20 for charities

      Up front peripheral charges - cost of invoice + 15% + tax (depending on where purchased)

      Your bleak outlook on how businesses operate is quite quite wring

  16. g7rp0

    @AC 15:48

    So cos you consider that someone who doesnt have the knowledge to resolve this issue an acceptable target for the idiot tax, does this mean that you would expect it from other people you engage to do work of whatever kind?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @AC 15:48

      You missed the point.

      A user who says "It just stopped working", and doesn't mention that it was actually working (albeit badly) until they tried to fix it themselves, is deserving of an idiot tax.

      If they say "It was running a bit odd so I tried to fix it by doing X and now it doesn't work" is not, because they've told you the truth and you'll be able to sort it quicker.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @AC 15:48

        >is deserving of an idiot tax

        As is any repairman who would believe anything a customer told them. "It was working yesterday, it isn't working now, I didn't touch anything" a phrase as old as prostitution but not as noble.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work for a computer refurbishment/recycling company...

    and we see the occasional idiot, especially on our eBay shop. Can we have a regulator for customers who purchase a blank (securely erased), used laptop of 1997 vintage and get irate when it's not ready to go on their home WiFi? Or who think them being an EE is going to make a blind bit of difference when the machine they're buying comes up with a message saying quite specifically that it can't support more memory?

    1. Vic

      Re: I work for a computer refurbishment/recycling company...

      Jamies'?

      Vic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I work for a computer refurbishment/recycling company...

        Nope. Also, although my bosses don't have a shred of gorm between them I'd rather remain AC on work stuff.

  18. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    "BBC investigators returned the data to the relevant care home."

    They could have threatened to give it to relevant authorities instead and might have walked out with a free Dolcé & Gabanna bag replica.

    1. Joe 48

      See my earlier posts. Someone in the ICO should be having words with the care home.

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Regulation of PC Repairers?

    Whatever next? Regulation of salesmen and consultants who sell unnecessary stuff to MNCs? Regulation of contractors on govt contracts? Regulation of monopoly and unfare business practice?

    The whole IT industry is scam-based.

  21. vmistery
    Unhappy

    I have to agree that the so called 'expert' on this show introduced a fault which would never happen. In over 10 years of repairing mine and friends PCs and when I worked for myself customers PCs I can safely say I have never had a jumper issue that wasn't self-inflicted when putting a dual drive system back together. I see a lot of people on here saying they only charge £60 for labour for a HDD replacement? This is exactly why I moved out of the industry, you are undervalued and no one charges enough, a plumber on the other hand!

    But companies like this make me angry, they give IT a bad name, that and those IT directors who know absolutely nothing about IT and award stupidly massive contracts for something they dont even need. But take some heart the problem is endemic across most industries, finance, plumbers, electricians. builders, sales people, garages, utilities etc etc and its not just the little companies either. Whats needed is a fundamental culture change.

  22. eJ2095

    Well

    Oddly enough Shop up in Wednesbury in the midlands

    Friend of a friend popped her laptop in and they want £120 quid to replace the HD.

    She told em to stick it.

    Got phone call to me asking if i would mind taking a look.

    Some how the HD sata drive had move slighty pushed it back in drank me cup of tea and turned it on and it worked.

    BUT then i got asked to make it faster case of crapware removal for an hour..

    Good fun and 30 squid later both where happy

    1. terry 1
      Facepalm

      Re: Well

      A client staff member near Solihull had a NTLDR sort of error on the laptop and took it to the shop who said it was a dead drive and replaced it. She was gutted that the data and all her family photos had been lost. I pointed out that NTLDR is usually a corrupt registry and totally repairable and that it was highly likely the hard drive was fine.

      I expressed a view over the situation and said she needs to go back to the shop and get the old drive as she has a right to ownership. She did but it had been 'disposed off', which in my mind means 'sold on'.

      She was charged £160.

      I once worked in a computer shop around 1999, I was forced to sell a 56k modem (internal) inc installation for something like £90, but the worst rip off was the old CD-to-motherboard audio cable. Old bloke came in the shop wanting one, I watched the owner sell him one for £14.

      His business lasted around 2 years, mines been going for 11. Difference is I don't rip people off.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well

        I see bluescreen-reboot loops on XP sometimes. Usually minor disk corruption from not shutting down properly and easily fixed with chkdsk. Not so easily, however, when the user is on the phone and their computer knowledge is such that you have to describe the shape and markings of the Enter key and how Shift works.

  23. crediblywitless

    Unfair fault report

    They scammed the tech. The "customer" reported that the computer was just going slower, and slower, but it was clearly showing a "no boot device found" message. Given that the tech is allowed to assume a) the customer is not demented, b) the customer is not flat-out lying, c) the customer can tell the difference between a computer that does _something_ and one that won't even boot, the tech has little choice to conclude from that message that the drive was failing, and has on this occasion failed completely. The jumper misplacement rendered the PC unbootable; completely at odds with the reported behaviour. All he had to say was "a friend installed a second drive for me, and it hasn't worked since" and had the tech could have looked in the right place, sorted out the jumpers, and left---and, as commented elsewhere, probably without charging.

    That said, the rest of the piece was entirely fair. The front end of it, involving a "security expert" setting up a fault but not coaching the "customer" on what to report, was unfair.

  24. Christian Berger

    Race to the top

    The problem is, that since nobody can really judge the competence of a worker in that field, and people want to get the best paid jobs they can get, all the positions are filled with the most incompetent people.

    I mean once you understand concepts like "loops" you'll probably leave your computer repair job and move on to web application development in PHP. (with desasterous results) The rest stays, re-installing Windows at a computer repair company.

    The same goes for hardware, if you know about electronics, you'll go to a TV repair shop or even do engineering. So what's left in computer repair is the bottom of the barrel.

  25. Gazinga

    PC PAL, after a quick look at their website, is just a franchise business and is even taking on 'no experience necessary' people and pushing them through a COMPTIA course to be able to make the claims, He does, in his statement. If you want to pay at least £49 for a month of experienced course sitting repair people then PC Pal is for you!

  26. hitmouse

    I've lost count of how many friends' computers I've encountered that have been installed with pirated versions of Windows and/or Office from these joints and they've been charged full retail on them. My friends wonder why they can't upgrade or get patches. I explain exactly why and they refuse to confront the places because the guy there is a mate of their dad's or something like that. Great mates!

    1. BitDr

      Pirated software...

      I refuse to install anything without the install media and licenses, even GPLd software must conform to this rule (although I can create the install media). Many business owners are of the opinion that because they paid for Office or Windows they can install it as many times as they want on as many machines as they want as long as they own the machines. Ummmm.... no. You want to do that then you pay for the licenses or you use Libre or Open office (or some such) and get off the software-crack (sic).

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Certification != (Ability || EthicalBehaviour)

    Ye Gods

    "Mann said PC PAL employed only "Microsoft and CompTIA qualified engineers who have also been CRB vetted" as field engineers."

    A MSCE is usually awful when it comes to hardware issues, and CompTIA? Which certification do they have? All of them? I consider both of these to be "certification theatre" than proof of ability. You need skill, passion, and morals. Trust, once lost, can never be 100% regained.

    You come to me touting an A+ or MSCE cert and I'll put you through the wringer just like everyone else. That he briefs all customers on charges before setting foot on the premises is just good business practice. It protects him from potential deadbeats and collections headaches, while it can be spun as serving the customers needs.

    I own/operate a PC Support Services business. There are unscrupulous operators in my industry just as there are dodgy mechanics and cowboy builders. Customers buy on price or theatrics of ability, and that often gets them ripped off. When a big-box store provides "PC Service" they may pressure techs to sell product, when the kid next door is your tech (because he will work for pizza or an iTunes card) you get what you paid for.

    1. Fatman
      FAIL

      Re: Certification != (Ability || EthicalBehaviour)

      Certifications

      MCSE: Microsoft Certified Shutdown Engineer - useless in a Linux shop (my employer).

      CompTIA: successfully passed a test, it does not indicate the ability to know one's ass from a hole in the ground.

      We had one (CompTIA "certified") repair technician who tore apart a machine that was "acting up" which had IDE hard drives in it. The fool wasted more than an hour, checking things, and did not find the culprit. After listening to his diatribe of obscenities, I motioned for the boss to come over. We stood next to this "technician" and quizzed him about what he had done to find the problem. The one thing he did not check turned out to be the source of the problem - the fucking IDE cable.

      Now, this is going to quickly date me, but I remember running into this same exact problem with my first PC, a Radio Shack TRS-80, Model 1. The fucking cable between the keyboard unit and the expansion interface was a pain in the ass (reliability wise) if it got flexed a lot.

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. HairyFool

    What else do you expect

    My local newspaper has been touting 6 week computer repair technician training for the last 5 years at least. If it is accepted that that is all it takes then that is the standard of engineer you are going to get. For safety reasons you need Gas Safe or Part P to call yourself a gas engineer or electrician but as lives are not at risk would this ever happen in PC repair, I doubt it. Of course something like CompTIA should be a minimum to be able to hang out the sign but does it mean much. I have come across a few sparks that I would not trust to change a fuse.

    And I thought at the time it was a damned stupid fault, don't think in 20+ years I have ever come across that one (unless I done it myself)

    1. Vic

      Re: What else do you expect

      > Of course something like CompTIA should be a minimum

      Why?

      I was a professional software engineer before CompTIA was formed. Why should I need to pay them to carry on with what I do?

      My business is built upon trust on both sides. If a potential customer equates trust with having a piece of paper, I think I can do without them this month.

      Vic.

  30. michytee
    Go

    About time too!

    Myself and my partner, both in IT support & Consultancy for 20+ years, set our small business IT support & repairs business 5 years ago. It's taken us the full 5 years of complete attention to detail to build up our excellent reputation as (probably) the only truly straight up and trustworthy repair centre with properly trained and qualified staff (we are a Microsoft Gold Partnerand CompTIA certified) in our locality and we are able to do fixed price, excellent value repairs without ripping anyone off EVER or telling customers out and out fibs. Some of our local competitors could easily have featured on that Watchdog programme. Give us properly enforced regulation in this business asap please! Same goes for car mechanics too. It is still possible to get ripped off by garages which are supposedly members of the 'good garage scheme', so their enforcement can't be up to much.

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