Consumers Across the Country Accuse Local Businesses of Inducing Technical Problems, Destroying Files and Excessive Charges Following Remote-Control Access
Wallingford, CT – If you are having computer problems that require the attention of an expert, Connecticut Better Business Bureau urges you to research online repair companies at www.bbb.org, or proceed at your own risk if you allow someone to take control of your computer.
Though most computer repair businesses are reputable, Connecticut BBB has identified a pattern of complaints within the online computer repair industry, including misrepresentation, ineffective service, additional technical problems after the service, destroyed files, questionable sales practices and delays in providing refunds.
In addition, consumers said they were deceived into believing they were dealing with BBB Accredited Business when in fact they were not, and one company illegally used the BBB seal on its website.
Several consumers’ complaints stated they were misled by ads and pop-ups, and thought they were dealing directly with manufacturers, rather than a computer service company. In addition, some said that their computers no longer functioned after being serviced.
“They then took over my computer for several hours and did the repairs. Once finished my computer was a mess,” according to a consumer in Markleeville, CA. Another consumer warned these businesses “…cause problems and try and sell you the solution.”
Better Business Bureau nationwide received 5,045 complaints about computer service and repair companies over the past 36 months. The complexity of computers puts consumers who are not tech-savvy at the mercy of unscrupulous operators. Some buy prominent ad space on search engines, using the names of well-known manufacturers and software developers to attract customers.
“Consumers can feel overwhelmed by technical problems,” says Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti. “Unfortunately, some will rush to get a problem solved, and run into bigger problems if they deal with the wrong business.”
Complaints to Connecticut Better Business Bureau involve companies that required consumers to allow technicians to take remote-control access to scan their computers. Some businesses used scare tactics to get customers to buy service contracts.
A woman from Chesterfield, MI, who had a problem with her wireless router was told by a technician at one of these companies that her computer was “…so badly compromised that it was a matter of … days before my entire identity would be stolen and I could end up ‘black listed,’ and that it would cost $650 to fix.”
A consumer in Riverside, CA, complained about one company that scanned his computer, and “…restricted my antivirus program I've been paying for so they could sell me their own.”
Consumers also complained that they were repeatedly contacted by online computer repair service companies, in violation of the Do Not Call Registry laws.
BBB has sent letters to computer service and repair companies operating this way, asking them to address underlying causes of patterns of complaints, and has detailed those concerns in business reviews where applicable at www.bbb.org.
To avoid problems with online computer repairs, Connecticut BBB recommends:
Make sure you know who you are dealing with – If you have a problem with software, your computer or peripheral devices, contact the manufacturer directly. A legitimate computer repair service will not solicit business by telephone.
Research the company before allowing it to take remote control – If you decide to use the services of an online computer repair company, check their BBB Business Review to see what other consumers’ experiences have been like. Consider having your computer repaired at a qualified local computer repair shop.
Ask questions – Do not give remote access to anyone without clarifying what the service will cost, and what they intend to do to diagnose and fix the problem.
Share this information with relatives – Talk to family members who use computers and may not understand how these scams work.
Back-up your files - You can suddenly lose your files for any number of reasons. Keep copies up to date.
There is no shame in not having the expertise to fix computer problems, however, there can be serious consequences for the health of your computer, credit card and any personal or creative content on your hard drive if you don’t do your research before selecting a repair business.
Always check a company at www.bbb.org to check its Business Review and verify whether it is accredited.