Unfortunately, anyone can pass themselves off as a computer repair technician. All too often we hear horror stories from customers who thought they would use the "expertise" of a friend, neighbour, family member or by phoning a mobile number in a local paper or shop window.
We were recently privileged to be consulted by PC Pro magazine regarding computer repair horror stories. The final article which was based on the whole of the U.K. and it is apparent that our experiences on the Fylde Coast are equally applicable elsewhere!
Listed below are some real stories we have been told about or have read about in recent months but firstly, we will list some points to be aware of:-
1. The repair service advertises by using a mobile phone number. Anybody can get a sim card for a mobile phone and not register the user with the service provider. If things then go wrong, they simply dump the sim card and start again with another.
2. If you have used a service with a mobile number and an unknown trading address etc. how do you know who it is that is visiting your home. Yes, it could be anyone - a burglar, a thief, a rapist - anybody.
3. Does the person visiting your home have public liability insurance ? If he / she burns your house down, breaks your favourite antique, blows the power supply, burns your expensive carpet etc etc in your house is he / she covered ? or will you have to foot a big bill ? All Fixnsell technicians have insurance !
4. If your computer supposedly needs to be taken away for repair, where will it go ? Are you sure you know where it is going or is it a scam to get a free computer ? Anyone can have professional looking business cards or headed paper made! Will your machine be covered against theft or accidental damage while it is away from you ? We have full insurance !
5. If you are told the computer needs a new motherboard, processor, hard drive etc, is this true or is it a rouse to relieve you of your hard earned cash. Our reputation has been built on good service, trust and honesty !
6. Is your technician trading legally ? Real businesses have to pay for public liability insurance, business rates, tax, national insurance, rent / mortgage, electricity, gas, equipment, staff, staff insurance etc etc. Is your technician unemployed and living off the money we pay in taxes and then having the audacity to have you pay her / him again for computer repairs ? Get their name and address and if in doubt, report it to the benefit fraud department at the DSS.
There are three ways you can report benefit theft:
Complete an online form on the Department for Work and Pensions website.
Complete the benefit thieves reporting form online (click the link which opens a new window) https://secure.dwp.gov.uk/benefitfraud/
Call the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440. Lines are open between 7.00 am and 11.00 pm, 7 days a week. It is free and confidential.
If you have speech or hearing problems you can use a text phone service on 0800 328 0512.
If you would prefer to make your report in writing, you can send information to:
NBFH, PO Box 224, Preston, PR1 1GP
7. Is the technician qualified ? Has he been fully trained ?
1. A recent customer asked if we could recover data from her hard drive. She had used a so called technician who didn't know how to repair her fault. Taking the easy way out, he reformatted her hard drive and installed an illegal copy of windows XP without even getting her o.k. first. Charged her £50 and disappeared in to the sunset. She then desperately needed us to try and recover photos of her kids when they were younger and also recent photos taken at a wedding.
2. During 2006 we received a call from a man asking if we had recently picked up a computer from his address. He had phoned someone who advertised repairs and only listed a mobile number. It came as no surprise when he informed us that the mobile phone that had been listed was no longer available and his computer had disappeared.
3. On numerous occasions we get new customers whose machines have been infected by viruses. Often they have supposedly been repaired by others but the viruses are still present and their machine speed is running like treacle. All too often they have paid out £30 upwards for virtually nothing!
4. A customer called us for a home visit. He had been told by a mobile technician previously that he needed a new flat screen monitor as it was faulty and a new graphics card was also needed. He was told that this would be £190. Our technician found out that the real problem was that the graphics card was loose in the AGP slot, pushed it back in and the customer saved £180 of the £190 he was told by someone else that it would cost.
5. Another customer had previously used a mobile repair technician. He was shocked when he had tried to use the update service for his expensive anti virus program as it was now blocked. The reason given by the AV company was that it had been used on more than one machine. Nobody else had access to his PC and he had certainly not given his registration code to anyone. Fixnsell only use genuine Microsoft operating systems and all other software is fully legal !
So often we get machines brought in to us after a computer cowboy had installed an illegal copy of windows. These tend to work fine for a short period until Microsoft catch them and ultimately block access to the machine completely.
A customer took her Dell laptop in to one of the other local shops because it wouldn't start up. They told her the DC jack needed replacing and wanted £120 to do it. Her neighbour told her to bring it to Fixnsell instead as we had fixed her laptop recently. We tested it as they had claimed to do but, the only problem was the charger. We replaced it with one of our chargers and the laptop was now working fine. The cost of the Dell charger was £25 so immediately she had saved herself £95. Even if they had been right about the DC jack it would only have cost her £45 with us to replace it, so would have saved £75.00
A new customer brought her PC to us for a second opinion. She had taken it to a local shop and was told the motherboard was faulty. We tested it and the fault was a dead bios battery. Price of repair was 1 pound instead of the 145 ounds she was quoted.
This is only a small example of the horror stories we have heard. The final decision on where you spend your money is up to you but, at least we have warned you.
If you know of any more horror stories worth listing here, email us the details using the email address on our contact page.