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Office Depot allegedly falsely diagnosing computers as malware-infested to meet sales

An office supply retail store, Office Depot, is currently in hot water after its employees were reportedly deceiving customers, by saying that computers brought in are infected with malware.

The workers were purportedly being pressured to sell protection plans as well as other services, which pressured them into making such claims, according to a report by Jesse Jones of KIRO-TV.


The store has a 'PC Health Check' service, which as the name implies, examines computers and diagnoses if they have any problems. While this might sound like a good thing, a whistleblower employee, Shane Barnett, spoke out.

“The PC Health Check doesn’t compute," he said. "If they actually did what they said and cared about customers they wouldn’t have started this program. Customers are unaware they are being taken advantage of.”

To investigate these claims, KIRO-TV took six computers in various Office Depot stores located in Washington and Oregon to have them examined in PC Health Checks. After the tests, the technicians determined that 4 out of 6 of the computers were showing signs of malware. After this, they attempted to sell protection services to the customer, which cost $199.99.

The only problem? The PCs used were fresh out of the box. Another test ran by an independent security firm, IOActive, didn't find any signs of malware on the six computers used.

Office Depot also purportedly posts sales goals and current employee sales for employees to see. This, according to Barnett, makes associates aggressive in pushing out bogus security plans for its customers.

“I refused to do it. They’re like, ‘You have to hit these numbers.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not going to make things up so you can hit your numbers. I’m not going to do it,’” Barnett said.

He adds that he and other employees have complained to Office Depot management about PC Health Check two years ago, but nothing was done to stop it.

In a response to the claims, Office Depot offered the following statement:

"Office Depot in no way condones any of the conduct that is alleged in this report. We intend to fully review the assertions and take appropriate action."

However, according to Barnett, the employees were just following what the company asked them to do.

Source: KIRO-TV via CBS News

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