BBC Watchdog last week investigated the activities of computer repair firm Click4PC, which also trades as Click Computers.
The TV show had received a number of complaints from consumers about missing data and computers being held until payment was received, with users unable to check over their PCs first.
You can read on the BBC website about Sarah, who was charged £85 for a fault that wasn’t fixed, or Miro, who found files were missing on his computer when it was finally returned.
Watchdog employed a computer expert to introduce a simple problem to a PC, before calling out Click4PC to ‘fix’ it.
The firm missed the problem, installed a new hard drive, and charged a whopping £205 for it. When they got the computer back, Watchdog discovered that the ‘new’ drive, had sensitive information on it from a previous owner, as well as an illegal copy of Word.
The expose didn’t stop there. Click4PC and Click Computers were originally thought to be separate companies, but turned out to be managed by the same man, who used different names to evade furious customers. The firm also allegedly pretended to be local to areas all over the UK in an attempt to get more business.
It must be noted that these firms were Click4PC of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire and Click Computers of Birmingham – several IT firms have similar names, and some have already reported customers asking them whether they were the company featured on this episode of Watchdog.
A Watchdog undercover agent secured an interview for a job as an IT engineer, where he was told upfront that it was more about making sales than fixing problems. He was also encouraged to aim for a minimum fee of £120.
Of course negative stories like this do impact the rest of the PC repair industry.
Jat Mann, from IT repair franchise firm PC Pal, commented: "It was in fact a bad experience with a rogue computer repair company I had over 8 years ago which prompted me to start my own business repairing computers, but one which operated ethically and actually did a good job and made customers happy! It is quite shocking to see any company who treats customers like this and especially one which has access to so much valuable and potentially sensitive data, and not the least because the company in question have offices only down the road from mine!"
"The core value which underpins PC PAL is one of trust, which we feel has to be the number one feature of a service
"I would be a strong advocate of this industry having some kind of regulatory body behind it, as it is only getting more crucial that people have access to properly qualified and ethical people to handle these types of problems. With the Governments race to get everyone online should also come the realisation that it is spawning a cowboy industry which can do a lot of damage if left to proliferate as it is currently."
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