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Undercover Cameras Catch PC Repair Scams, Privacy Violations 665

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-in-your-e-wallet dept.
Barence writes "With help from readers of PC Pro, Sky News in the UK launched an undercover investigation into rogue PC repair shops. As a result, Sky's cameras caught technicians scouring through private photos, stealing passwords and over-charging for basic repairs. It was a simple enough job: 'To create the fault, we simply loosened one of the memory chips so Windows wouldn't load. To get things working again, one needs only push the chip back into the slot and reboot the machine. Any half-way competent engineers should fix it in minutes.' But these technicians had other ideas, stealing photos and documents, as well as login details for email and bank accounts."
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Undercover Cameras Catch PC Repair Scams, Privacy Violations

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  • Halfway Competent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jack9 (11421) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:20PM (#28783153)

    I don't know a lot of halfway competent engineers who are PC Repair men.

  • Big deal (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:22PM (#28783181) Journal

    No one should be surprised at this. People snoop and overcharge. If you want your privacy respected, don't give anyone else access to your computer. If you don't want to be overcharged, learn a thing or two about your PC so you can fix it yourself.

  • !surprising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by evil_aar0n (1001515) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:22PM (#28783183)

    I'm not surprised, sad to say - people can be very unscrupulous - but how do you prevent this? Under *NIX, you can separate a lot of your data from the OS. But under Windows, with its registry, it's a little more difficult.

    If I couldn't fix it myself, I'd at least put in a blank drive before I took it in to a repair center.

  • Surprising? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:22PM (#28783189) Homepage

    This is what happens when you skip over qualified technicians to hire high school students or college dropouts who are 'good with computers' to save a little money.

    Perhaps these companies should be sued, each and every one of them, for privacy violations. Maybe when the risk of hiring unqualified technicians is too high, they'll actually start to hire people with certifications and/or degrees for a sane amount of money.

    No, $7.25/hr isn't a sane amount of money for a computer technician in the US.

  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:25PM (#28783229) Homepage

    Yeah, people do snoop and overcharge. It's a fact of life, but it's a fact of life that can get you sued, put in jail, or worse.

    Add to that the fact that any half-way decent technician would testify that testing the seating/connection of things is the first or second thing on the list they do when it comes to hardware troubleshooting, and you're already deep into scam territory.

    I'd bet the places involved would have been happy to sell you $400 refurb 100GB hard drives, re-sticker CPUs, and sell pirated copies of Windows, too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:26PM (#28783241)
    I've found you should always image the hard drive before you do anything. How many people bring you a fucked up box, with some lame explanation of the problem, then freak out when you didn't read their mind?

    Before you do anything, image the drive. Sorry if that means stealing their porn and personal documents. More sorry I have to cover my ass with every goddamned clueless windows user!

  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:31PM (#28783309)
    All tower cases should come with a diagnostic boot drive. The days of feeding IDE and SATA cables and screwing hard drives into place has to stop. The tech to make snap in hard drives has been there for a long time.

    I keep a cheap HD with KNOPPIX Maxi ready. I would always swap it in, if I ever bothered to let a hardware tech touch my machine. I have in the past, but only because they can diagnose motherboard issues and I cannot.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DJLuc1d (1010987) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:31PM (#28783319)
    As simple as that might sound to someone who knows enough to fix their own computer, a lot of gandmas and grandpas just aren't going to learn how to fix a machine. They need help, and that is why tech shops will always exist, and while there are plenty of legit operations, there are always going to be a few bad apples. I would personally be out of work if everyone knew how to fix their own machine. It's like saying "If you don't want a mechanic to overcharge you, learn to fix your own car", which is good advice, but to be realistic, I don't have the time to spend pouring over a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am manual when I need my car up and running in a day.
  • Re:PC Repair Scams (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdot @ i d e a smatter.org> on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:36PM (#28783389) Journal

    You mean to tell me the kind of shop that would charge $50 to install a stick of RAM might behave in a less than ethical manner? NO!

    Unfair criticism. They are not charging for the act of snaping a DIMM in place, any more than that engineer in the famous story is charging to draw an X in white chalk. Rather, they are charging for the expertise to handle any issues that result from the memory change. (Windows Genuine Advantage rejection for the win!)

  • Re:Surprising? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by malloc (30902) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:39PM (#28783433)

    This is what happens when you skip over qualified technicians to hire high school students or college dropouts who are 'good with computers' to save a little money.

    Uh, no. This is what happens when you skip over reference checks/spending time to know your employees and hire unscrupulous technicians to save a little money.

    "scouring through private photos, stealing passwords and over-charging for basic repairs" == moral problem, not a technical one.

    -Malloc

  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:39PM (#28783445) Homepage
    No one should be surprised, but that doesn't mean it's not a big deal. What you have here is an entire industry (PC Repair) that apparently specializes in ripping off its customers and preying on their ignorance. Is it okay if my mechanic rips me off because I don't know how to overhaul my own engine? Or if my accountant steals my identity because I don't have the time or the inclination to decipher the tax code? Sure, you and I might know how to fix computers because computers fascinate us and we like to learn how they work. The average person, though, sees their computer as a tool, and doesn't care to know how to fix it. They call a PC Repairman to fix their computer when it acts up, just like they take the car to a mechanic when it won't start or call a plumber when there's water dripping from the ceiling. Yes, there are practitioners in all of these professions that specialize in ripping people off, but that doesn't mean it's acceptable behavior.
  • Re:PC Repair Scams (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:43PM (#28783497)
    Here's the real rub. While their charging you $50 to install ram, they are paying the guy who does it $8.50 an hour.
  • Re:PC Repair Scams (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:44PM (#28783529) Journal

    I'm sorry, that for you $50 is too much.

    To me, it is called Minimum Bench Time. You need bench work in my shop, I'd charge you $50 Minimum. But that gets you a 1/2 hour of tech time to answer other questions you might have.

    But if you bought RAM from me, I'd install it for you, for free. But you'd complain that I charge 30% more than some mail order place and is ripping people off there too.

    Then you complain that places like Best Buy hire idiots who don't know shit to answer your highly technical questions even when you're not intending to even buy whatever at that store.

    Yeah, I know who you are. You're the stupid tech that gives everyone else's time and effort away for free, because you can do it yourself for nothing, and you shop www.pricewatch.com and think you're all that and a box of chocolates because if it.

    I love you. You create more customers for me.

    Some people don't want to run around for days trying to figure out how to save that last few $ you claim is ripping people off, in this case $50 bench fee.

    My customers know I'm not the cheapest, but I am fair. What they get is ME, and I'm priceless compared to you. They know they can call me anytime and get me, and I'll give them good advice, and treat them with respect. And they get peace of mind, which is worth something to them.

    So, thank you! Really, I mean it.

  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:45PM (#28783539)

    If you don't want to be overcharged, learn a thing or two about your PC so you can fix it yourself.

          Your comment goes against the very essence of civilization.

          Why should I invest time and resources to turn myself into a "computer specialist", instead of using a means of wealth exchange "money" to hire a REAL specialist to do the job for me? Then I can continue to be good at MY special job - medicine - and have my needs met by a more efficient specialist, in terms of time and other resources.

          Of course it all breaks down when a) the "specialist" in question is probably no more qualified than I am; and b) the "specialist" in question is actively trying to defraud me of my money or possessions.

          It's no wonder that philosophers have been complaining ever since ancient Greece about the value of ethics and morals in a society. You just can't run one without them. Of course you can use other tactics - fear, oppression, etc to TRY to maintain order, but these are incredibly wasteful. History teaches us what always happens when you put a lot of power in the hands of just a few men.

  • by jorghis (1000092) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:46PM (#28783545)

    The truth is you dont need to be really competent to be a PC repairman. 95% of problems can be solved with either "reinstall windows" or "try replacing part X and see if it works". Anything more complicated than that is going to require time, effort and expertise that exceeds the cost of the computer. So there is no point of hiring expensive people with high levels of skill to begin with.

  • Re:Surprising? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:48PM (#28783579)

    90% of engineering is trial and error.

    90% of PC repair is trial and error.

    Don't go bringing that mentality into other engineering fields. You don't do bridge building by trial and error.

  • by fishbowl (7759) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:49PM (#28783595)

    >Fully competent engineers make the best PC repairmen.

    Current impressions of the job market aside, why would someone qualified for a profession who can earn upwards of $100,000 per year, work in PC repair, where even the better management jobs pay less than half that?

  • Re:Surprising? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:49PM (#28783597)

    I've found certs mean almost nothing. I've found the dumbest of checklist chimps that have managed to get a cert or a degree. And certs say nothing about the ethical nature of an individual.

    People that behave unethically when they feel that they are not being watched or their customer is too ignorant to watch them can never be paid enough to stop behaving unethically.

    Most techs I work with don't get paid hourly. They share a significant percentage of each job. This nets to a very nice hourly rate. And yet some of them will reassign calls from other techs stealing from their own friends and co-workers. Give customers their direct lines and try to steal the entire call. And steal customer lists and inventory even being paid 10x or MORE than 7.25/hr. For these types of people there is no fair rate that would make them stop stealing.

    I've found more mature people with real responsibilities: mortgages, children, etc. do better then purely smarter people with little responsibilities and ethics. And I've found certs mean almost nothing when it comes to evaluating a persons ethics or even their deductive skills.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:56PM (#28783691) Homepage

    If you mean "exceeds the cost of the hardware", then yes.

     

    OTOH there's still some people who believe a repair job doesn't automatically mean the loss of all the data in the machine.

  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:00PM (#28783775)

    I hope that you are also an expert in fixing... cars, plumbing, roofs, TVs, refrigerators, and washing machines; all of which I garauntee will break down at some point if your life. Let's also not forget other handy do it yourself projects like curing illnesses, neutering your pet, and pulling wisdom teeth. People get overcharged for all of these things every day. Just because the subject at hand happens to be your area of expertise doesn't mean you can just say 'learn a thing or two' and call that a valid resolution to the problem.

  • Re:Big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hattig (47930) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:04PM (#28783823) Journal

    What you have here is an entire industry (Plumbing) that apparently specializes in ripping off its customers and preying on their ignorance.

    What you have here is an entire industry (Electricians) that apparently specializes in ripping off its customers and preying on their ignorance.

    What you have here is an entire industry (Mechanics) that apparently specializes in ripping off its customers and preying on their ignorance.

    Basically, ignorance is asking people to rip you off. It shouldn't be like that, but it is. A stuck seat belt becomes a £100 repair if you're a female. A small leak becomes a £300 repair if you don't know the basics of plumbing.

    Read up, and then be specific when it comes to the repair. You might not know how to solder a water pipe with a leak, but you can point at it and diagnose the problem you want solved.

    Seems that you're best off finding a local PC repairman that will come to your house to fix things, than going to even a reputable store like PC World, never mind a dodgy high street computer shop. And that's if you don't know anybody else who can help. Hell, people know to check their oil and tyre pressures, why can't they be told how to check their memory is seated well?

    At least plumbers, electricians, gas fitters, etc, have trade organisations that try to guarantee some standards amongst their members. It's why in the UK you never get a non-CORGI gas fitter in. Maybe IT Technicians need a similar trade organisation, just so the advert in yellow pages has the logo, and people know they won't get ripped off.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:06PM (#28783863) Journal

    The last 4 posts also apply to car stealerships. Most of the time the mechanics have no clue, and they just keep replacing parts hoping the new part will make the problem go away. I had a wheel that was vibrating and the mechanic replaced the bearings, then the struts, then the steering connection... it went-awy but came back just a week later.

    Eventually I was "lucky" enough to get a flat tire, and the local mechanic that fized my tire happened to be competent. He said the vibrating wheel just needed was a topping-off of the brake fluid. Three years later, it still works flawlessly. So I spent over $1000 at a "5-star Dodge dealer" for a $10 fix.

    And of course there's dishonesty as well. Fixing things that your car doesn't need: "You need new ball joints." "No." "Then your car will fail inspection and you don't be able to drive it". So I go-ahead and fix the problem.

    It sounds like the PC repair business is just mirroring the car repair business - lousy service, dishonest crooks, and making the customer feel he/she is trapped with no choice.

  • Re:PC Repair Scams (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seakip18 (1106315) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:07PM (#28783883) Journal

    But if you bought RAM from me, I'd install it for you, for free. But you'd complain that I charge 30% more than some mail order place and is ripping people off there too.

    This is a good one.

    Consider a $47 memory pack from Newegg. You charge 30% and either pull it from stock you've had to make a bet on not going obsolete and having to sell at a loss or pay for shipping(you could pass the buck here...)& wait for the part. Even then you're only charging ~$14 to customer for you to choose, buy and install the RAM, in which case the customer saves $33 over having you install THEIR ram.

    What you get back is the customer is more willing to come to you for minor upgrades rather than shrug and do it themselves. After all, you'll do it cheaper and still carry the liability if you burn out a mobo, get an incompatible part, etc..

    I'd hardly consider that ripping someone off.

  • Re:Surprising? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by castironpigeon (1056188) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:10PM (#28783927)
    Quality of work may not be directly proportional to compensation, but being well compensated does make a person think twice about doing stupid shit and losing a good job.
  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:10PM (#28783939)

    Mod me "troll" if you want but there is nothing magical about computers. If someone feels it's not worth their time and effort to learn how computers work, that's their prerogative. But, when they make the choice to remain ignorant, they need to man up and accept that this is going to cost them. They will be at the complete mercy of people who made the effort to understand how these devices work.

    Heck, I can tear down an engine and rebuild it if I want but I choose to pay other people to do that kind of work for me. The fact that I understand how engines work gives me the ability to screen mechanics and find one who won't rip me off. One who will just do the work that needs to be done and charge for the true value of that work.

    I honestly can't comprehend people who don't take the time to learn how things work. These days, most white collar jobs require extensive use of computers. People rely on these devices to feed their families and put a roof over their heads yet they make no effort to understand how they work. It's ... I have no words. I just don't understand how people can be content to live in a fog of ignorance.

  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:13PM (#28783981)

    It's like saying "If you don't want a mechanic to overcharge you, learn to fix your own car", which is good advice, but to be realistic, I don't have the time to spend pouring over a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am manual when I need my car up and running in a day.

    I think you misunderstand how this works. I have enough knowledge about car exhausts not to get ripped off. They are not going to sell me frequency grease or some BS, plus I have a vague idea of how much time and money it should take, and an excellent idea of exactly what is broken and what I need them to fix. Given my knowledge, I am extremely well qualified to outsource to a mechanic and manage their work.

    Not surprisingly, my interactions with tradespeople in general are pretty positive.

    Someone whom takes a more dilbertian approach toward management is going to be screwed over by their mechanic, sooner or later. Its not necessarily even "screwed over" so much as utterly clueless expectations. Consider people whom proudly declare how totally clueless they are about mechanical things, but suddenly become experts on the topic when its time to discuss prices, or start arguing when they hear something they don't want to hear.

  • Re:Surprising? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:15PM (#28783999) Journal

    The real issue is TURNOVER. Even if you were lucky enough to get an honest tech on your Best Buy or Staples repair staff, the low wages mean that honest person will eventually move-on to job that pay two or three times more.

    So you hire another honest tech. He sticks around maybe six months, and then he too gets hired to someplace else.

    So you go on yet *another* search for a tech, but you find there are no more honest people - at least not for $7/hour - because they're all working for better companies than Staples.

    So you take whatever scum you can get.
    That's the reality of today's retail world.

  • Fix in minutes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wjousts (1529427) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:17PM (#28784041)

    To get things working again, one needs only push the chip back into the slot and reboot the machine. Any half-way competent engineers should fix it in minutes.'

    This isn't as bad as some of these "exposes" they run on PC repair shops, but I would dispute it should take minutes to fix. For a start, you need to open the case first, which you're probably not going to do until you've tried to see if you can solve the problem without opening the case (maybe it's a BIOS or OS problem). It's not like checking the ram is seated properly is the first thing you'd check and it's not like the BIOS will come up with a "RAMs not seated properly" message.

    I remember another similar set up a while back where they'd plugged the IDE cable in backwards. Again, if somebody brings in a computer that has stopped working, the first thing you think of is not going to be that the IDE cable has magically turned itself backwards again.

    Having said all that, let me make it clear that these people (the PC repair people) are still scumbags. I had a computer from BestBuy that was still under warranty that had damage to the power supply and motherboard (you could see the burn marks on the connectors). BestBuy's Geek Squad tried to tell me that I had a virus and need to buy their anti-virus.

  • by mcgrew (92797) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:17PM (#28784059) Homepage Journal

    News flash: unscrupulous employers hire unscrupulous people.

  • Trust (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yoshi_mon (172895) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:20PM (#28784107)

    I was talking to a friend of mine who, like myself, does local PC contract work. He charges a bit more than me and in discussing that one day he started talking about the various reasons he felt his costs were fair. Partly it is a regional difference as well as he has been doing it longer. But the big thing that I felt, knowing his clients as he often will consult with me on things, was trust.

    Given that I'm sure that there are others in his area that could do his work for a lower fee his clients are very loyal. Rather thou the trust that they have in him is worth the extra money.

    I even used a car analogy. Saying that he was like a trusted mechanic. Since most people don't know much about computers when something is wrong with them, like a car for someone who is not a mechanic, as the repairman you can lie with near impunity as to what is wrong. Or just describe the problem as it really is in such overwhelming technical detail that it sounds much worse than it really is.

    I don't think any of us who have been around are very surprised that this goes on. From the moment PCs when mainstream I've seen sleazy repair shop after sleazy repair shop doing the same kinds of things. And it makes it all the easier for me to retain customers given that by doing honest work I build up a trust with them.

  • Re:Surprising? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:22PM (#28784145)

    I completely disagree. Morals and ethics has no correlation with wages. We've got people making $400K+ per year bilking the university for money, making illegal hires, and making front page news about it. You might find a disgruntled employee somewhere who is lower paid but it isn't the pay, it's the perceived treatment, with an emphasis on perceived. You can teach morals and ethics but like any education it's up to the student to want to follow through with what they have learned.

  • by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:26PM (#28784201) Journal
    At least Molex is on the way out since SATA. I can't tell you how many knuckles I've cut up trying to get out stubborn Molex connectors.
  • by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:27PM (#28784233)
    If it reboots non-instantly and not with a blue screen, just exactly the same way that it would if you pressed the power button, and it wasn't a virus, I would have narrows it down to the power switch awfully quickly.
  • You know, something like that should be at a library.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:38PM (#28784405)

    For a similar reason, I think that critical thinking and reasoning should be taught in schools from elementary on up. Teach people to be able to differentiate between facts and hype; between an honest product and a scam.
      the problem is that then they'll be more questioning of teachers who often cannot provide a better reason than "that's just the way it is." A generation raised this way would also kill off the profitability of infomercials and most door-to-door salespeople.
     
      yeah, it would be nice, but people are much more comfortable being lazy, stupid, and trusting.

  • Re:Surprising? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:40PM (#28784427)

    You don't do bridge building by trial and error.

    Sure you do, it's just that the trial and error tends to be done by other people (often in fields such as "materials science"), on computers, and/or on small models.

  • by Knara (9377) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:51PM (#28784641)

    We exist, we're just in corporate settings where we make a lot more money.

    It's actually rather amazing how little you have to do in order to be regarded as the "best of the best" in desktop support in large corporate environments (because most good engineers move on very quickly to other job descriptions).

    The main issue being that you should be able to recover a machine to normal operations without reinstalling or wiping the machine 90%+ of the time (which is fairly easy to do if you know what you're doing). Do that, do it in a timely fashion, and do it on a regular basis. If you can accomplish that, you can make some really decent dough.

  • Re:Surprising? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:52PM (#28784659)

    Most crime comes as a consequence of divisions of wealth in society, and wealth division's long term effects, so yes, if you want to use that argument it can be made to fit.

    If you have ever done a crappy job you'll know that the crappiest part can be the knowledge that people above you are getting paid a lot more but clearly do very little work or are under much less pressure. How is this an incentive to care about your crappy job?

    The (capitalist/consumerist) argument goes that if you do care you will get promoted, but that doesn't make the issue go away - it moves (or leaves it) to other people.

    So the only way to address this issue to let the people at the bottom have a nice job like those further up. Decent pay is a biggie, but also subtle things like respecting their working hours goes a very long way.

    This is the point where you call me a communist or something equally hyperbolic.

  • by ehud42 (314607) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:04PM (#28784861) Homepage

    Stealing passwords, rooting through 'interesting' pictures aside, I take issue with these 'exposes' on bad techs. Whether its PC techs, automotive techs, or whatever. We (I was a PC repair tech for a few years) do not expect sabotage.

    A memory module does not become loose. There is no reason to expect that is the problem - at least not initially. And even if the loose module is found right away, only an overworked tech with a don't care attitude would let it leave the bench without running some kind of diagnostics (at least memtest for a while) to ensure the module wasn't further damaged by being partially inserted.

    And running diagnostics costs - even if I'm not doing anything. Having a PC on the bench ties up a place where I can be working on someone else's problem. If I can't work on someone's PC because your's is running a diagnostic or install or some other long running process, then guess whose paying the bill? YOU.

    As for snooping through files, that's not professional, but even professionals are human. You're sitting there waiting for an error or problem. Maybe you are stumped. You need a mental break, something catches your attention on the computer. It happens.

    Stealing data, even copying music, pic's etc. Now that is bad and should be exposed and the places shut down.

  • Re:PC Repair Scams (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:17PM (#28785065) Journal

    Exactly!

    I don't compete with low price mail order online shops. They are not my competitors. I sell service, not products. The Products I sell are gravy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:45PM (#28785459)
    Hold on a second there. I'm an independent repairer (non-shady one) and my main problem with all the "official" ones like Geek Squad is they're a little reinstall happy. Unless system files are missing or damaged, I never reinstall windows. It's not that hard to automatically then manually remove any trace of incompatible software or any malware. Their big thing is that it'd take 4 hours of labor to fix the problem or 3 to reinstall windows and back up all their data first. I charge so little for labor that it doesn't really matter and then they get to keep all their software instead of spending a week reinstalling everything, half of which they lost the discs for.

    You may be good at computer repair, but it doesn't sound like you're so good at business. If you can offer a better service than Geek Squad, why are your labor rates so much lower than theirs?

    Assuming you're fixing a malware infestation...Geek Squad is going to charge you $299 to come onsite to fix your PC, and an extra $100 to back it up first. If they can get it done in 3 hours the "easy way" versus taking 4 hours "the hard way," why wouldn't they? Their method is faster, easier, and more profitable! On top of that, they don't have to employ highly skilled technicians who can handle a complicated manual cleanup, which might save them a couple bucks an hour in labor costs.

    More to the point, if you're not charging $100/hour for your labor like they are, then you're short-changing yourself.
  • Re:Surprising? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Duradin (1261418) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:50PM (#28785537)

    Interesting, you casually call people peons yet you can't type "pisspoor".

  • Re:Fix in minutes? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @05:03PM (#28787707)

    You can guarantee that the manager's job performance was at least partially based on coming up with reasons why the people he is managing should not have rises, bonuses or perks.

    The check list thing (and siding with the other management types) is just a symptom of him setting up his employees for a fall.

    It is another example of real-world TPS report cover sheets.....

    This is also them "knowing how to manage".

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @06:33PM (#28788963) Journal

    Nice to see I'm not the only honest repair man left. I have been doing it for nearly 15 years myself, and know exactly what you mean, especially when it comes to getting used boxes. I was once given a load of throw aways from a teleco, and damned if they didn't even bother wiping them! Names, cc info, accounts, the whole nine yards were on them. I just ran a DoD wipe from CD and reprocessed them.

    And you are SO right about the college kids. If I had a dollar for every kid that filled his My Docs with shots of him and his GF I'd be rich. I just backed them up and handed them over. But I can't do the sleazy crap like the worst buy guys do, I just wasn't raised that way. I am quite proud of the fact that in the 15 years I have been building and fixing boxes I don't have a single file from any customers PC that wasn't expressly given to me by the customer. I believe a man should take pride in his work, and do an honest job for his pay. Of course that means I'll never be rich, but at least I won't have trouble sleeping at night.

Is a person who blows up banks an econoclast?

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