If your laptop breaks, you could be better off attempting a DIY fix than trusting a high street computer repair service. Our undercover researchers found poor repairs at PC World and Carphone Warehouse.
The ‘blue screen of death’ ranks up in my top computer-related fears, up there with ID fraud and uber-viruses.
Last time I experienced the dreaded screen, it tolled the death knell for a laptop that – to be fair – I should have replaced at least a year before.
And stupidly, I hadn’t backed up my files for a while (and by a while, I mean around a year). Some were still hanging around on various memory sticks – but others I lost permanently.
My experience shows how much we rely on our computers to keep files and photos safe. So if your PC develops a fault – maybe you get a blue screen of death, maybe it won’t start at all – panic can set in.
Unless you’re a computer buff, you’re likely to throw yourself on the mercy of a professional repair service. And unless you happen to know a reliable local firm, you might be tempted to go for the ‘safe’ option of a trusted household name, like PC World or Comet.
High street computer repair fail
We’ve found that that could be a costly mistake. When our undercover researchers tested out the repair services offered by Best Buy, Carphone Warehouse, Comet and PC World, we found a litany of incorrect diagnosis, bad advice and poor repairs. None of which you’d expect from such popular, big name brands.
To be fair, it wasn’t a total disaster. Most stores did successfully reconnect a couple of cables we’d loosened in a desktop which were stopping the computer starting up. Though unbelievably, one store reckoned we needed a new hard drive to fix the problem.
But when it came to a laptop software problem that we’d introduced – which should have been easy to fix with the repair function on any Windows Vista installation disc – only two stores out of 12 carried out the perfect fix.
Many others recommended a completely unnecessary motherboard or hard drive replacement. Not a single chain properly diagnosed and fixed all laptops we took to them.
Recommended independent repair services
We didn’t test independents, but if our findings have put you off high street repair services, Which? members can use Which? Local to choose from more than 1,300 member-recommended repair shops across the UK.
But don’t resort to a professional repair service by default. Many computer problems – including both of the faults we’d introduced – are easy to repair yourself even if you know very little about computers.
Take a look at our easy tips on how to fix common computer problems. If our investigation findings are anything to go by, it could save you shelling out on costly and potentially unnecessary PC surgery.