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 didnt 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: "Im 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.