Representative bodies in the UK IT channel could be looking to change the way they operate and regulate members, following the uproar created by a Sky News report exposing fraudulent activities by computer repair shops in the London area.
The report – which secretly filmed a number of PC retailers charging for unnecessary repair work and accessing private information and bank details – prompted strong debate both within and outside of the channel.
Keith Warburton, CEO of the Technology Channel Association – the trade body which counted the worst offending retailer as a member –told PCR it was looking for ways to combat rogue traders, but that new measures wouldn’t come for free. “We are strengthening the Code, but the only way to drum out the rogues is to check out every trader who wants to be part of a trade association; that takes time, which means it costs money, which the resellers would have to pay. If we had to levy, for example, £50 extra every couple of years for a physical inspection they wouldn’t be too chuffed. Or perhaps they would?”
John Carter, MD of Fix It local – a national network of PC repair businesses acting cooperatively – called for heavier punitive measures within the industry for members flouting the law. “My personal belief is that we should create an environment where companies commit to the same levels that accountants and solicitors have to in terms of money laundering. If we can achieve this the rogues would not only be exposed but go to prison for their misdemeanors.”
Meanwhile, buying group Brigantia asserted a greater degree of cross-body collaboration is required: “This issue is why we introduced the Brigantia Computer Experts accreditation scheme nationally and why we are committed to further developing it. We fully support the work of ITACS and NASCR within our channel already and look forward to developing a relationship with the TCA as things develop.”
NASCR also expressed its shock at the report, but insisted this is not a problem indicative to independent retailers, highlighting PC World’s presence in the report.
A spokesperson for DSGi declined to comment directly on the report, but stated: “We never access personal data on laptops, personal computers or mobile phones that we repair.”