Staff at some branches of PC World failed to diagnose basic computer problems and overcharged consumers for easy repairs as a result,Computing Which? says today.
Our experts introduced simple faults to PCs and took them to seven branches of PC World and 13 independents.
Prices to fix a loose cable ranged from £10 to £139 and researchers were charged from £20 to £260 to fix a simple software problem.
PC World, which is the only big chain to repair PCs it hasn’t sold, performed particularly badly.
At one store, after misdiagnosing the simple software problem, Computing Which? researchers were told a repair would cost £350 and were advised to buy a completely new computer.
On six occasions, branches of PC World refused even to look at a PC because the computer wasn’t returned with a boxed copy of Windows or a recovery disc – which weren’t necessary for fixing either fault.
Some retailers were also found to cut corners by reinstalling Windows instead of finding the source of the fault. If this happens, consumers have to pay for new copies of Windows and its installation, and lose any data that haven’t been backed up.
Despite poor results in some of the independent repair shops, most gave good repairs and impressive service and cost less. Some even helped to carry the mended computers to the researchers’ cars.
Computing Which? Editor Abigail Waraker said: ‘Consumers rely on PC repair shops to solve a problem and to do so at a fair price. It is shocking that simple problems, such as a loose cable, can be misdiagnosed and stores are getting away with charging for their mistakes.’
Hamish Thompson, Director of Media Relations at PC World’s parent company DSG International, said: ‘PC World’s skilled engineers have fixed more than 2 million PC problems for customers in the last year, and in nine in ten PC repairs there was no requirement to fit a spare part.
‘We’re constantly improving the quality of our services and we’re grateful to Which? for their feedback on 14 visits. Fourteen visits can never tell the full story and we’d welcome the opportunity to show Which? all of the work we’re doing in more detail.’
Mr Thompson said the chain would review the issues highlighted by Computing Which? and investigate areas for further improvement. PC World’s customer service inside its stores has been subject to an extensive overhaul since the Which? report was compiled, he added.
Computing Which? advises PC owners to follow these tips to avoid being ripped off:
- ask friends and family to recommend a repair shop
- always check the charges to look at the PC – whether it’s an hourly rate or a flat fee for certain repairs
- get a quote beforehand for labour and parts
- make it clear to the shop that they must ask your permission if the cost of work will go over a certain price
- ask the shop to call you before replacing any software or hardware – you may need to check if you risk losing data.
For expert advice on trouble-free computing, call 0800 53 30 32 and quote PCFREE837 for a free Which? Easy Use PC Guide.