We all know that exposés of poor computer repairs by consumer campaigners lower customer confidence and damage reputations. But what can or should be done about it?
PCR reported last month that TV programme Watchdog investigated a computer repair outfit following a series of customer complaints.
Since then, it's become clear that the effects of that show have hit some businesses very hard.
Consider that many computing firms have similar names.
Ronald Bannister of Click4 Computers has had several enquiries on his Facebook page from customers wondering if his was the firm exposed (it’s not).
ONE MAN'S STORY
Bannister told PCR: “Yes I have been affected by it. Recently I started trying to advertise online. I started to get a few calls through Google Adwords, and it seemed to be working well.
"But then Watchdog featured the companies Click4 PC and Click Computers, and unfortunately the name I am trading as is similar, so when people headed onto the internet searching for the company, they found me.
"People then started posting questions on my Facebook page. I left the first one on there, asking if I was the company on Watchdog, to which I replied stating I wasn't and listing how my business practices are different.
"I also noticed a large increase in clicks on my Google Adwords ad, which rapidly decreased my advertising credit. Then I started to receive a number of prank calls.
"I contacted Watchdog regarding this, and they said there was nothing they could do. In the end they just offered to send me a letter to show to customers confirming it was not me.
"But I don't know what damage has been done long term to my business. I have many happy customers, and some of them have taken business cards from me to hand out to people. But now I don't know if they might have called me, but won't now after seeing Watchdog and incorrectly assuming my business was the one they featured.
"Prank calls seem to have stopped for the moment, but the long term damage can’t be assessed yet.”
RESEARCH IS A NECESSITY
It's can't be easy, working all hours to build a business, only to see something outside of your control damage your reputation.
But why are consumers attracted to these businesses that are being exposed in the first place?
“It never ceases to amaze me how customers will spend more time researching a plumber to fix their shower than a computer store who is going to work on something where photos, bank details and other sensitive data are stored," said Jason Eccles from SimplyFixIT.
"Customers should spend a bit of time looking for a reputable company to do their computer repairs."
WHICH? FOUND FAILINGS TOO
Watchdog isn't the only consumer campaigner on the case. The magazine Which? sent out 24 laptops for repair, including six to independents, but only half were successful and yet all of them charged. The independents were all Brigantia members.
MOVING ON: EDUCATION AND ACCREDITATION
In light of the report, which it is taking very seriously, Brigantia said that it was working on rolling out an educational programme for members of its National National Laptop Repair scheme.
Education and accreditation must be the way forward.
CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux commented: “Consumers can be confident of their computer and IT services providers if they look for suppliers that have earned industry-supported business credentials, such as the CompTIA Trustmarks and Accredit UK.”
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