back to article Office Depot halts PC Health Checks amid bogus infection claims

Office Depot has suspended PC Health Check – its malware-scanning service – after it was accused of lying about infections to push antivirus software. Former Office Depot technician Shane Barnett told Seattle TV station KIRO 7 that the PC Health Check service would lie to customers that their otherwise-clean PCs were infected …

  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    Shocked I tell you!

    Anybody else surprised?

    Yeah, me neither.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Shocked I tell you!

      Actually, I am surprised...

      There's such a thing as "American trading standards laws"???

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Shocked I tell you!

        Dead letters these days David 123. Punitive at best in general.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shocked I tell you!

        Braindead libertarians will tell you that they're unneeded, because the market will shun dishonest companies. No need to get the government involved, as seen here where the company voluntarily shut down their scam after being reported to the media. The system works!

        1. Hans 1

          Re: Shocked I tell you!

          > The system works!

          Well, not so fast, now they will have to recall all customers that got the "service" and refund them all. Plus a heavy fine ... that was, what is known as, computer fraud ...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Shocked I tell you!

          Are you sure it is not the neo-cons?

          Just in case you got them mixed up?

      3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Shocked I tell you!

        > There's such a thing as "American trading standards laws"???

        More commonly known as "The law of the jungle" I believe.

      4. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: Shocked I tell you!

        American trading standard laws:

        1. there's one born every minute

        2. as high as the market can bear

        3. it's not a bug it's a feature

        4. you're holding it wrong

        5. we did it for your convenience.

        1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

          Re: Shocked I tell you!

          American trading standard laws, continued:

          6. We value your privacy.

          7. We use industry-standard security to protect your personal information.

          8. Binding arbitration is fair and unbiased.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Shocked I tell you!

      Not surprised at all. This is same company that has been pushing McAfee AV at the registers while checking out as a "great deal on a great AV package". <choke><cough>

    3. Gray

      Re: Shocked I tell you!

      No shite, Sherlock! This is the same chain that sold a business model laser printer to my 72-year-old friend when she asked our local Office Max/Depot store to help her select a personal printer for her home. They loaded her up with the printer, an "accessory" package of over-priced, useless crap, and a two-year service agreement. The price tag? Somewhat over US$500. This lady prints the occasional e-mail, letters, and recipes. She had no use for the office duty-rating, or the built-in scanner and fax functions.

      I'd earlier wiped her Toshiba laptop of a buggered Win 8 install, and replaced it with Linux. She'd been using it for six months and loved it. It took two of us to lift the printer to install it beside her desk. It refused to acknowledge Linux print commands. Two of us loaded it back in her SUV; it took her nearly an hour and many threats of going to the state consumer authorities to get a full refund. The sales staff then "ordered" her to buy a smaller replacement machine from them. She walked out.

      I sent away for a small personal color laser printer and a full set of replacement cartridges (with two black) for an even $200. She pocketed $320 in savings. It is compact and light enough she can pick it up by herself. It connected to Linux and printed on the first attempt.

      Moral of the story: don't trust 'em to help Senior folks who ask for advice and service. And that's my second experience with that store. They did the same thing to an 87-year-old lunch buddy of mine last year. Except I caught it before he unboxed it. I'm 76 and just a hobbyist, but I'm tech savvy enough to know 'em when I see 'em: Greedy Predatory Bastards!

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Shocked I tell you!

        Thus the real issue was you weren't able to make your buggered installation of Linux print on that printer??

        1. Gray

          Re: Shocked I tell you!

          Thus the real issue was you weren't able to make your buggered installation of Linux print on that printer??

          Thus the real issue was that I weren't able to make the buggered HP driver for that particular model that I downloaded from their website and installed, work as promised. Her earlier model inkjet printer (not HP) I'd set up both wireless and USB cable and it worked flawlessly under Linux. Problem is, she used it so little that the print heads kept drying up; she used more ink cleaning heads than she ever did in printing. She saw the price of replacement ink refills, and chucked the printer. That's when the Office Max/Depot follies began. (She didn't ask me first, not wanting to bother me.)

          1. BillG

            Re: Shocked I tell you!

            Thus the real issue was that I weren't able to make the buggered HP driver for that particular model...

            HP printer drivers. You will never find a more retched hive of scum and villanry.

          2. LDS Silver badge

            Re: Shocked I tell you!

            I was just kidding - if they sold her an expensive printer and overpriced options she didn't need you made the right thing bringing it back and asking for refund.

            Just, the tale about replacing Windows 8 with Linux was pretty useless in that context, hence my joke.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Shocked I tell you!

        Damn Gray!

        Seriously, people who take advantage of seniors need just be put out of everyone's misery.

      4. Stretch

        Re: Shocked I tell you!

        @Gary installing Linux on someone's laptop is assault. I had to resurrect my sister-in-law's after a "friend" of her husband turned it into an unusable brick by pulling that shite. You should cease and desist with such actions.

  2. Ole Juul


    I'm in favour of religious freedom but when pricey exorcisms are foisted on the unsuspecting then it's time to step in.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "you have to hit these numbers."

    The Wells Fargo of PC maintenance then.. US corporations have so little to offer that they routinely resort to American Gangster.... Doubt we'll be seeing any jail time in Trump's term if Obama couldn't manage it.... America Fuck Yeah!

    1. onceuponatime

      Re: "you have to hit these numbers."

      I love the apology commercial. "We got caught so we promise we'll do better." (*fingers crossed behind corporate backs)

  4. Joe User

    FTC investigation

    Office Depot's behavior is called "fraud". A criminal investigation is in order.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: FTC investigation

      We can only hope.

  5. Mikel


    Now let's look at Firestone auto maintenance chain. They rob people in the same way.

  6. redpawn Silver badge

    If you hold your ground

    and demand that they meet their advertised prices, they will meet them but you will have to show them their add to get them, then repeatedly say no to the extra warranty offerings to come out ahead. I am only surprised that they were so timid as to ask only $180 for a "tuneup" and imaginary virus removal when $249 sounds more like they have a higher class of security experts.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Exploit US citizens for maximum profit

    I don't see a problem with this. A corrupt business for a fuck stupid population.

    1. Gray

      Re: Exploit US citizens for maximum profit

      Corrupt sales practices, agreed. As for "fuck stupid population," many of us use computers as ancillary tools, and have as much need to delve into their inner workings as we do the refrigeration or heating systems--our other home appliances. Despite that (see my comment above re: Office Max/Depot abuse of elderly customers) I'm willing to bet that we're far less stupid than you seem to be arrogant and insulting.

    2. thegroucho

      Re: Exploit US citizens for maximum profit

      To the (particular) anonymous poster - there are always idiots in all countries and you are proof of that.

      I doubt you will be speaking like this in polite and intelligent company.

      Being able to hide your real identity is no excuse for talking sh1t.

      How would you fancy having your car 'repaired' by crooked garage and subsequently you crash because of brake failure?

      Based on your logic this will be your fault, right?

      P.S. In case you care - I am not American

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Exploit US citizens for maximum profit

        Well, I known US citizens who say without shame, for example, that two-years compulsory EU warranty is stupid because it stifles innovation, is anti-business, creates new bacteria resistant to antibiotics, etc. etc... sometimes they really deserve this kind of business practices which looks so "American", because the customer is only a cow to milk.

        1. Joe User

          Re: Exploit US citizens for maximum profit

          Idiots come in all shapes, sizes, colors - and nationalities.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Exploit US citizens for maximum profit

            "Idiots come in all shapes, sizes, colors - and nationalities."

            And they vote for sexist, racist, far-right moronic nutjobs with strange hair to lead them....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Exploit US citizens for maximum profit

              I thought Hillary won the popular contest but due to the idiosyncrasies (pardon the pun) of the system she lost the race.

              So you will find not everyone voted Trump.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Exploit US citizens for maximum profit

      I have to upvote you. Hate to, but have to.

      The entire U.S. economy is based on defrauding the customer no matter the consequences, because the consequence often prove that crime DOES pay.

      And the American people vote for it as often as possible. Because, you know, one day they'll get their chance to screw over people and get rich. You can't fix that kind of stupid.

  8. adam payne

    "We have commenced a full review of the assertions and will take appropriate action. Office Depot is committed to providing the best possible service to our customers, and we are suspending the PC tune-up services throughout our retail chain pending our review."

    The best possible service that can get you the best possible returns for doing nothing.

    I'm sure all the decision makers of the company will deny all knowledge of any wrong doing.

  9. kend1

    Past crimes

    Bait and switch:

    Or search for "Office Depot extended warranty fraud".

    Being visited by the three ghosts of Christmas is viewed more as a training opportunity and not an ethics review.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin Media allegedly doing the same

    VM send out warning letters to customers suggesting they have SSDP vulnerabilities and offer their "gadget rescue service" to fix things. There is little evidence that those sent letters do have any SSDP vulnerabilities.

    VM claim it is legitimate but it has all the hallmarks of a 'scaring folk into buying burglar alarms' scam.

  11. zen1

    Oh really?

    " Office Depot is committed to providing the best possible service to our customers." Oh bullshit. They're putting on a show just because they got caught. Wouldn't surprise me if the same crapware is dropped on machines taken to best buy and other box stores.

    1. onceuponatime

      Re: Oh really?

      This reminds me of a commercial I saw Sunday on my once a month TV watching time. (I hate TV in general so nuf said.)

      "Wells Fargo is making changes to make things right" (Damn we got caught, hey Vinney we need another avenue)

      "Fully refunding those impacted." (If we don't pretend to do something we'll get a fine and lose our bonus.)

      "Proactive account notifications." (So if we tell the truth now we can lie later, good plan Vinney)

      "Eliminate product sales goals." (Need to find a new excuse to fire employees.)

      "We're renewing our commitment to you." (We are too big to fail so we'll make the little ones feel safe from all this happy talk.)

  12. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Corporate-to-English translator

    "Office Depot in no way condones any mandates on pain of dismissal all of the conduct that has been alleged described in media reports, plus a lot more shit that no one has caught us at yet," a spokesperson for the chain told The Register on Monday.


  13. AB_Canuck

    Different perspective

    Every marketplace has asymmetrical information. Some people simply know more than others. This body clearly knows more about this issue than Joe Lunchbox but how is Joe supposed to know if he is getting scammed? It appears that the whole system is screwed. The clerk doesn't have any latitude/ knowledge to make decisions but has a pile of pressure to perform. The business has to figure out how to deliver a profitable solution without missing something and causing negligence exposure so use a software package that errs on the side of CYA. The expert techs are more profitable doing other stuff. Joe's lack of knowledge about all things computer does not make him a charitable cause that a business has to support / donate to. I am not condoning the activity but seriously - how to solve?

    1. kend1

      Re: Different perspective

      re: AB_Canuck 'how to solve?'

      Get a second opinion.Post your questions online and search online for people who have similar questions. There are people here with decades of computer experience willing to help.

      "The salesman said ...... what should I do now?"

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Different perspective

      How to solve? Pay for competence techs and stop promising bullshit sales numbers and defrauding people.

      Crazy commie talk, I know.

  14. MondoMan

    Yet another unintended side effect

    Starting back in the 80s, OfficeDepot/Officemax (the 2nd and 3rd rank chains recently merged) and Staples drove all the little stationary / office supply stores out of business as part of the "big box store" revolution. They provided one-stop shopping, good prices, and often helpful advice, and made good profits as they took over the SOHO & small/medium business supply market.

    Over the last decade, these big box stores have been hit hard as internet shopping (especially Amazon) plus Costco have provided better prices, cheap/fast delivery to the premises, and a wider range of good quality products. Businesses (and most consumers) aren't stupid, so Office Depot (especially!) and Staples have been hanging on by a thread. Clearly, Office Depot seems to be getting desperate.

    PS - many people not comfortable with technology developed good impressions of Office Depot / Staples as helpful places to buy technology during their growth, and have not yet learned that the situation has changed.

  15. MR J

    Honda, PCWorld, All the same.

    Not just Computers ...

    My local garage owner had his wife take in their Honda for the Airbag Recall, they ran a "Free" check and found that the transmission needed to be reworked, the brakes were all failing, all of the wipers were bad and needed to be replaced, and that various other "issues" existed on the car.

    When they got the recall letter they stopped using the car until it could be fixed, he changed all the wipers and checked fluid levels the day before it had to go in. Everything was great... But all 3 wipers on the car were "torn" through wear and tear... Through 1 day of sitting without use - OOPS. The odd thing is that the new wipers seemed to all be clean cut, like with a knife!... He went up there and complained and they have no idea how the wipers got like that, but the transmission and breaks were okay and it was just a mistake during inspection. The "Free" recall went from like £600 down to £45 (cost of the wipers)...

    He has made a formal complaint but Nothings going to happen.

    But yea, Computers...

    I was in a rush to get a laptop one day so went to PCWorld (I know, I know)... But all of the ones they had in stock came with a "pre-configured backup USB stick" that cost an extra £35. I had to argue to get it removed - only for them to then tell me that as the box had been opened I couldn't return it unless there was a fault, I told them it was against the SOGA and she said she had never heard of it lol. They removed my USB stick, but the PR team says that if you go in and only pre-configured are there, that they will give the stick for free if it was reserved. A total lie.

    PC World also "Refuse" to price match for me in my local store with Scan (15 miles away from store!) because most people order from scan using the website and not by going to their store! lol.... I tend to reserve, ask for a price match, walk out if it doesn't happen and then return when the current manager has left his shift. Sometimes they will match, but generally if the team has to get a supervisor to approve it then they tell me no.

    Best not mention when they told me to go home so they could send a courier to my house to pick up a computer part - to take it to the store (that I was at!) so they could then pay another courier to bring a new part back out (FROM THE SAME STORE THAT I WAS IN) to me....

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022