Sky News exposes dodgy laptop repair shops [UK]

Sky News in the UK have exposed several laptop repair shops including some big names like Micro Anvika and PC World.

During the investigation, researchers unplugged a RAM stick from a laptop to see if the shops would simply diagnose the fault or charge extra for work and components. Only one shop was genuinely honest, Pix 4 in Shepherds Bush. The rest, including Micro Anvika and PC World, charged huge amounts for work that was not required, including replacing the laptop motherboard.

Sky News found that the most serious offender was Revival Computers in Hammersmith, West London. Revival Computers snooped around the researches documents including pictures of the researcher in a bikini. The cowboys didn't stop there though, they copied the data onto a portable USB drive and opened a text file with fake Hotmail, Facebook and NatWest banking login details. One technician at the store attempted to get access to the NatWest site but failed simply because the details were fake.

The sting was setup using surveillance software on the laptop that recorded the technicians every move and filmed them using the laptops on board camera. An investigator from Trading Standards said he was "shocked" by the findings. Richard Webb, an e-commerce investigator for Trading Standards said: "I'm really quite shocked, both in the range of potential problems this has revealed - people overcharging, mis-describing the faults - but also people attempting to steal personal details."

Revival Computers in Hammersmith refused to comment on film to Sky but later denied all knowledge of the alleged abuses. Questions will surely be asked following this report on the rights and wrongs of IT technicians checking personal data. Gary Glitter was famously jailed over child porn when he took his laptop in for repair at a PC World branch in Bristol. Morally or even legally, should the technician have been looking at his data? Thankfully he did on this occasion. What would the technician have done if he found embarrassing photos instead of disgusting child porn though? Perhaps IT technicians should be regulated in the same way that lawyers, teachers and other professionals are to avoid privacy and data protection issues.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

MS set to kill off YouTube competitor, Soapbox, on August 31

Next Story

Fujifilm announces first 3D camera, due September

101 Comments

View more comments

Sadly, a sign of the times.
Reality... using the car mechanic story if the delivered quality is not very good, very few clients arrive which translates into too much free time combined with human curiosity .
As a professional IT tech for 16 years one realises that if your product is good and you are prepared to eat quite a few work hours yourself, the public comes calling in droves and return.
Liked the story of the street repair man though who jumps and and in 10mins is finished .
But I do agree, some kind of standards should be set somewhere, cowboys, even hiding under a shiny street sign, have never been good for any business. As in car mechanics, it takes time to find a good one.

Though a professional should know better, looking at the photos is not that much of a big deal (after all, that's how they nabbed Glitter) but these kuntz, inexplicably, made their own copies of a customer's private photos, for nefarious purposes, and stole bank details.

Oh, and they could barely speak English...

These mofo scoundrels should be shut down immediately and face criminal charges.

"Motherboard needs replacing", I've been doing PC repairs, pro bono, for years and finding out that vvankers like this exist really makes my blood boil.

I have seen this happen quite a few times. I come across few moron engineers that think that formatting and reinstalling is only solution to OS/Software related problems. Most of the times I call the customer care and try to fix the problems related to the OS myself or do some research on the internet and follow the steps to solve the OS / software related problems or check with my family and friends.

As far as the problems related to hardware goes, as it is in extended warranty the authorized repair people can lie all they want as the replacement comes free. But if I have to leave the computer with them, I take back my hard-drive.

I wonder why new channels in India cover such stories, when such things are very common here. Just like the bad guy, there are good repair people too.

OMG that is shocking... my mouth is still open after watching that. Thank god I'm an IT engineer as well as being an analyst. I can see why people put their trust in these people because I work with Muppets all day, and all they now is how to access their files and folders and emails and that's about it. People with no computer sense at all will be ripped off without them even knowing... The people in this review clearly set a well versed trap which worked because these people were identified.

I maintain and repair all my machines, I have done for the last 10 years, and would never trust anybody to repair or even look at my computers. Thankfully I know how to lock files and folders and use software which I have tested from back to front to make sure they cannot be accessed at all.

A very shocking review and quite an astonishing investigation, especially were they tried to access bank accounts which unbeknown to him were fake. a fantastic review and article which will probably put the frighteners up some people but people like myself, whom have a advantage as I repair all my computers including laptops. upgrades and everything.

This is the reason why I don't want to apply for a job in PC World. Everyone has told me to try there for a job but they just rip people off.

I heard that best buys is very bad ones where they repaired woman's laptop and hack into her laptop and looking at her tax stuff and others a few years ago...

I once had a placement at a local computer repair store, was awful. A woman brought in a cam recorder which she needed installed to her laptop or something... the owner of the store later on said how he was going to take the camera home and make a dirty video with his wife. The bloke was a big fat lazy slob... The sort of bloke you can imagine would run a store like that.

Wow. This is insane. I went to training one time and was rather surprised to find that when they were setting up my laptop to use their printers and such that they were looking at all sorts of documents. It goes to show that you can't trust anyone.

I generally end task anything that is not explorer.exe when working on a system which is not my own. If the guy checked TASKMNGR he would have probably seen SPYCAM.exe or WAGhg.exe, or whatever. Or did they use a rootkit or some sort of proprietary hardware?

NyaR said,
I generally end task anything that is not explorer.exe when working on a system which is not my own. If the guy checked TASKMNGR he would have probably seen SPYCAM.exe or WAGhg.exe, or whatever. Or did they use a rootkit or some sort of proprietary hardware?

Task Manager ?

One if the easiest things to do is to hide a process from Microsoft's Task Manager, they used something based on service or root kit level of course so is invisible, there are many of those programs such as Spector Pro.

Also, I believe that the "engineer" wasn't suspicious of anything.

What I will do if I want to check files on a PC which is not mine is simply boot from Live Windows, so I can bypass any Windows login passwords and be sure also that my flash drive and anything else will not be infected by any virus present on the PC, and that there will be no chance that anyone know what I did if they have any sort of software such that.

Commenting is disabled on this article.