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Computer stores over-charging and failing to deliver on repairs

Which? found 'huge differences in quality, aptitude and pricing' depending on the retailer

People placing their trust in high street shops to fix their computers are being ripped off - in some cases charged up to three times what they should be, according to an investigation by Which?

The findings, being released today show that not a single retailer successfully fixed all of the laptops taken into their branches. Overall, less than half [40 per cent] were repaired properly.

The consumer watchdog installed a simple software fault onto 30 computers, which meant they would not start, and took them to some of Britain’s biggest retailers to get them repaired.

The investigation looked at the in-house repair departments of six different branches of The Carphone Warehouse, Currys, PC World, Apple stores, and independent retailers.

It found “huge differences in quality, aptitude and pricing – from failing to diagnose the fault to fitting unnecessary parts, and charging between nothing and almost £170 to address the same issue,” according to Which?

In five cases, investigators were charged more than £100 for a repair that should have cost less than £50. And in one case they were charged nearly £170. In seven cases, people had to buy new hard disk drives which were not needed, and one lost all of their data. And in nine cases the repairers failed to fix the laptops altogether despite Which?’s test laboratory being able to repair them in minutes.

“It’s shocking that major high street retailers are failing consumers when faced with such basic repair issues and are charging people through the nose in the process,” said Richard Headland, editor, Which? “We want to see improved staff training and repair procedures as well as fair and consistent pricing so people can be confident in the services they receive,” he added.

The latest investigation comes after one done in 2012, which had similar results. Yet instead of the “significant improvement” hoped for, the new findings show the “PC repair business still often fails to deliver on its promise,” according to the consumer organisation.

People should be wary of handing over their computer before getting a detailed quote, and making sure they know what will happen to their data. They should also consider whether it is even worth paying for it to be repaired, with new laptops costing around £400, advises Which?