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Over the last couple of months, computer retailers have been under attack by the media, even for things they haven?t done.

Tarred with the same brush

When the law on age ratings turned out to be unenforceable, it was suggested that games sellers would start selling inappropriate material to kids. And after Sky News did an undercover exposé on laptop repairers, PC Pro magazine ran even further with it, with a cover entitled ‘The High Street rip off’.

Our sector runs the risk of gaining the type of reputation used car dealers earned over many years. And we aren’t doing ourselves any favours in how we deal with it. In response to age rating worries, the Entertainment Retailers Association publicly stated that while its chain store members would never sell inappropriately, small indies might do it to make a quick buck.

In the present economic climate, some might do anything to put bread on the table, but the word always gets out when customers have been stitched up. There is a crooked dealer who has been pirating Windowson to PCs for years and getting away with it. Microsoft’s Michala Wardell did promise to clamp down on this sort of piracy yet nobody has ever investigated this case. But, while Microsoft may be too busy to worry about the thousands of licence sales it has lost over a decade because of a single shop, this one’s reputation with customers is now so bad, it couldn’t get any decent business if it tried.

Anyone in this trade long term must be a responsible professional – there is no room for those who aren’t. Responsible professionals should seriously consider joining NASCR, because together we can change public perceptions – something we badly need right now.

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