Feeds

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, …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge

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.

23
0

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.

5
0
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.

2
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Facepalm

Re: Cover Up for Jimmy Saville

Are you on crack or something?

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Cover Up for Jimmy Saville

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

2
0
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.

7
1
Silver badge

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.

11
0

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.

0
0

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."

1
0

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

0
2

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)

0
0
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.

0
0

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.

0
0
Silver badge
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.

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

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.

7
0
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!!

0
3
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...

0
0

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
0
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.

0
0

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.

0
1
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.

0
0
Bronze badge

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!

0
0
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.

1
0
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

0
0
Silver badge

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.

3
1
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.

0
0
Silver badge

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.

13
1
Bronze badge
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.

0
0

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.

0
0
Bronze badge

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.

0
0
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.

0
0
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)

12
0
Silver badge
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
0

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.

4
0
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

1
0
Silver badge

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.

1
0
Silver badge

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.

0
2
Bronze 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
1
Silver badge

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.

0
0

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.

0
2
Silver badge

Re: Agreement @DieSee

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

0
0

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.

1
0
Silver badge

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!

3
1
Silver badge

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.

6
2
Silver badge
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.

0
0
Silver badge

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.

0
0
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.

0
0
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.

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.