Laptop repair rip-off WARNING – Britain’s major chains overcharging by up to £260
Rip-off repair shops have been exposed in an undercover investigation that look at phoney costs, dodgy fixes and lengthy waiting times
BRITAIN'S biggest laptop repair stores are charging rip-off prices, losing your files unnecessarily, and making non-essential changes to your computer.
That's according to an undercover investigation that revealed repair shops were overcharging by as much as £260 – and making serious repair gaffes, too.
The Which? secret shopper investigation revealed that choosing a local independent computer store over a national chain can save you £74 on average.
Which? looked into high street chain iSmash, Knowhow (which operates out of Currys PC World, Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Travel), and a series of independent stores.
Researchers introduced identical software faults into 18 different Windows laptops.
The report describes it as "a simple software issue that could be fixed in a matter of minutes" by an expert.
Secret shoppers took these laptops to 18 different repair shops – six iSmash stores, six Knowhow outlets, and six independent locations.
The lowest repair bill was £45, and was charged by both iSmash and an independent store.
But iSmash also charged the highest bill too, asking for a lofty £305 from a secret shopper.
That means iSmash effectively overcharged the customer by an incredible £260.
The average cost of repair for iSmash customers was £140, but Knowhow managed a cheaper average of £105.
Both were beaten by independent stores however, which clock an average bill of just £67.
In two iSmash visits, customers were charged for "unnecessary premium solid-state drive" upgrades – costing £295 and £305 respectively.
And at Currys, Knowhow charged an additional £120 data recovery fee.
In the most expensive case (with a £136 total cost), a shopper was sold a £100 copy of Windows 10, which was completely unnecessary.
But it gets worse.
"At another store, a repair was attempted without the permission of our secret shopper, who had asked to be contacted before any work was undertaken," Which? researcher Michael Passingham reveals.
"After expressing dismay at this, Knowhow told the shopper it could undo the repair. In fact, the company had already attempted to reinstall Windows 10 on the shopper’s laptop – an irreversible process that had wiped all the files that were on the machine."