Thursday, March 1, 2012

PC Repair Rip-Off!

Don't Get Taken: A Checklist for PC Repairs

Troubled PCs remind us of the movie Twister: The problem is evident, but you often have no idea where it's coming from or what your best escape route is. When error messages start pelting your monitor, grab this checklist before you run to the nearest repair facility.

Think Ahead

Before you find a repair store:
  • Try online help. For common problems, check newsgroups such as alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt and
  • Call your credit card company. Some automatically extend warranties for products bought with their card. 

Before the Repair

Based on our experience, you may fare better at local stores not connected to large chains. Ask friends for tips, and find out how long the recommended stores have been in business. You can check many stores through the Better Business Bureau. Ask the store if it will give you an estimate for diagnosis and repair. Also, before you go:
  • Put a name-and-address label on your PC and monitor.
  • Back up your data.
  • Know your system's purchase date and its warranties.
  • Record the serial numbers of major components. 

During the Repair

If you're confused, consider bringing a technically savvy friend with you to the repair facility. At the store:
  • Read all the fine print. 
  • Get written estimates. 
  • Arrange to get your original components back unless they are needed for a trade-in. 
  • Insist on authorizing every proposed repair, rather than giving the store a blanket okay.

After the Repair

Once a store has cured your system, use these guidelines:
  • Pay by credit card. The credit card company may intervene if disputes arise later. 
  • Get a signed list of what repairs were done.
  • Check your PC's system memory and the component serial numbers to be sure you're not getting short-changed.
  • Keep all receipts.
If the worst happens, and you think you've been ripped off:
  • First ask the department and store managers to make it right.
  • Seek help from your local Better Business Bureau.
  • Complain to the local district attorney or the state attorney general

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