What are the chances of getting your data back and laptop working for a reasonable price at the hands of high street repair experts at Apple, The Carphone Warehouse and PC World? Not great…
Back up? Who does that? We all know we should back up our data, but how many of us do? So when your laptop loaded with photos, saved emails and important documents has a hissy fit, the recovery of the last five years is in the hands of self-proclaimed high street repair Geniuses, Geeks and those with the Knowhow. But are they hands you can trust?
Many of us rely on our devices – I know I do – so when they stop working without warning it can be more than a mere inconvenience. Sometimes switching it off and on again just won’t solve the problem. What you need is a professional repairer.
The laptop repair lottery
To investigate the quality of high street laptop repair services we introduced a simple fault onto 24 laptops – including Windows laptops and Macbooks – that meant they wouldn’t start up. We then took six each to Apple’s Genius Bars, Geek squads at The Carphone Warehouse, PC World’s Knowhow service and to independent PC repairers from the Brigantia network.
We last conducted this investigation in 2012 and only around half of our laptops were successfully repaired. We contacted the companies concerned at the time and a year and a half later it appears little has changed.
Only around 40% of our laptops were successfully fixed this time; at costs ranging from free to £170. There were also inconsistencies in how branches of the same chain approached fixes, highlighting just what a lottery you’re entering into when you take your laptop to be repaired.
Some good repairs
Good fixes were possible – Apple got four of the six Macbooks working again for free, but the last two remained unfixed because they were deemed ‘vintage’ and Apple doesn’t stock parts for them, even though our repair didn’t require any new parts.
The Carphone Warehouse also clocked up two very good repairs, each costing less than £50. However, another repair came at the expense of our data. PC World and the Independents achieved lower success rates overall in our snapshot test of repair services.
The fact of the matter is, when it comes to laptop repair services, a consistent approach is lacking and it seems that you’re reliant on the expertise of the individual behind the counter, or behind the scenes, when you hand over your laptop.
We approached each of the retailers as a result of our investigation. Apple failed to respond to our repeated attempts to contact the company, but the others each expressed a willingness to improve their services. We want to see improved staff training and repair procedures, as well as fair and consistent pricing so you can be confident in the services you get.
Our investigation only touched upon a small number of stores. If you’ve had a poor experience with repairers, or think you’ve paid over the odds when putting your PC in the hands of the experts, we’re keen to hear your comments.