Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Quiz Question IV

Unsurprisingly, the burn in test result was a FAIL. In two-inch high, black and red flashing letters.

We recorded the session but at present we're unsure of legal ramifications and so are not yet posting it on the web. But here's a quick rundown of what happened:

The engineer turned up and turned on the monitor and saw "FAIL". That's when the excuses started. "That one's just the A-drive, because it didn't have a disk in it probably, and the CD drive, because that didn't have a disk in it either, ah, that one's the sound card..." and then he trailed off.

Next time he spoke, it was to express surprise at how slowly the machine was running. He agreed with us that we had not touched it since he left the previous day.

Steve told him that we had had enough. Forget fixing the thing - we wanted the shop to take the computer back and to give the owners their money back and call it quits. This is part of why I have not yet disclosed the name, address, website, etc of the shop in question - I have been hoping that things can be sorted out amicably.

At this point the engineer - who yesterday had been trying to befuddle us - started up on a theme of "I agree, I'm on your side". On the recording he can clearly be heard making the statement "I'll be honest with you, I came back here this morning half-expecting it not to work." He also made a couple of other comments about how he would feel and behave if all these problems were happening with a computer he had bought. However he preceded these with "off the record, and please don't quote me..." so I shouldn't really document precisely what was said. He insisted that he was just an engineer, and as such had no way of getting our money back, so he couldn't make any promises or take the computer away, we would have to speak directly to the manager. We agreed that the engineer had half an hour to call the shop and report the failure of the test to the manager, and then we would phone to discuss things.

I am extremely glad it was Steve who handled that phone call as it would have left me floored and god knows what it would have done to the owners of the computer.

The manager refused all suggestion of taking the computer back in exchange for a refund. He then accused us of tinkering with it, cited the "favour" he had done the owners by "repairing" the computer after the owners "messed it up" (trying to repair it themselves with the Windows disk). The pièce de résistance had to be when he told Steve that the computer had left his shop with all the hardware components it was supposed to have and therefore someone outside the shop must have tinkered with it - to us this sounded a lot like he was accusing us of opening it up, deliberately stealing pieces of hardware, and causing the issues ourselves, deliberately (I'm not sure why we'd do that?). Steve was shocked at this and asked him to clarify that this was what he meant. The statement was repeated, and not retracted.

The outcome of the conversation was an agreement that we should bring the computer in (again), he would test it (again), and call us by lunchtime the following day. If he found ANY problems with the machine, the owners would get a full refund. If not, the machine would be returned to us as a fully working, as-specified computer.

Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets...


Anonymous said...

... my bet's on him saying it's working in the hope that we'll give up the will to live and/or just go away and never darken his shop-door again.
Quiz question IV(a) - how likely do you think this is, given the fact that I was accused of breaking and stealing parts from the PC? ;)

Steve (it was 2 coffees, by the way)

Anonymous said...

My bet is that he'll give it back to you as working, but it'll last 35 minutes before blue screening. Sorry about the specificity, I used to work in a bookies'! But I can't be bothered to work out odds, so I'll say evens.

Mary said...

Jo - that would be near enough my bet as well.

I'll be interested to hear his reasons why we should believe him when he says it's working perfectly, since that's what he's said every time the owners have collected it from the shop so far - when they first bought it, when the DVD drive was replaced, when Windows was reinstalled and the computer "fixed", and then again a week ago after the "extensive testing" - four times in the last three months, this will be collection number five.

Anonymous said...

Despicable and shoddy. I seem to remember reading in some computer magazine that someone had suggested independent tests to solve this sort of problem.

Definitely get trading standards involved, I reckon.

I wonder if you can have him for slander (hmm... maybe not even go there!)

Anonymous said...

If he says its working fine, you can then say with clear conscience "Then you'll have no problems taking it back and giving us a full refund, will you?." Otherwise Office of Fair Trading should be your next stop. Of course, he's now got the chance to tamper with the evidence. Hope you took a photo of the innards.

Anonymous said...

Can you get him to demonstrate it in the shop?

Mary said...

"If it's working fine then you can keep it, resell it and give us our money back" doesn't work on the basis that it's a bespoke machine, made to a personal specification.

Jo - the manager willingly allowed us to check in the shop that it worked. Well, that it booted up okay. Which it did. But the booting process wasn't the issue...

As for Trading Standards... well. We went through the advice on the websites which said we must give them a reasonable chance to repair any defects (I reckon we've totally done that), and that if a dispute still continued then the first thing to do was get the item of contention checked over by an independent expert not affiliated to us or to the retailer.

Our request that Mark (the manager) should box the computer and seal the box so that we could take it to an independent expert for this reason, was rejected. He said he had nothing to seal it with, and even if he did, he wouldn't seal it, as he could not trust that an independent expert would not tamper with it or give a false report.

I will write another blog post when I have the energy and have calmed down enough to do it properly.

I also intend to edit the previous posts to include the full name of the computer shop involved. Oh, and the video footage WILL be going up online.

Anonymous said...

Oh man. Don't you feel like shouting "I haven't got the energy for this"?! Do be careful about "naming and shaming" - might prejudice any future action.

Mary said...

Vic - you are absolutely right, I don't have the energy for this - and it annoys me no end that for the four days Steve was here in Lowestoft this time, I used all my up-time and energy trying to sort out this horrible situation rather than enjoying spending time with him.

But I need to feel like I'm doing something. Partly because I feel I have let down the people I recommended the shop to, and partly because the whole debacle - particularly when it got to the point of outright lies, contradictions and personal insults - has caused sufficient stress to make me be physically sick. I find it difficult to sit and do nothing about the situation.

Anonymous said...

(((hugs))). I know exactly what you mean about wanting to do something/feeling responsible.

Just remembered Computeractive has a watchdog type ("contact us" and scroll down to consumeractive) section, so might be worth a shot. Don't forget the credit card company too.

Oh, and how come the owners went from "morons" to people who could take out stuff from the machine?! *sigh*

Really hope it gets sorted soonish.

If the owners are computerless, they may well find one (for free) on their local Freecycle

Mary said...

I think in their universe, the owners are still "morons" - but they called in me and Steve, and it is US who it appears the shop are implying may have tampered with the machine.

The owners now have my desktop machine - it's about 3 years old, and it's not the precise spec they wanted, but it IS a perfectly functional system. I lent it to them when the trouble started with their ancient machine while they saved up for the new one, and then again when the problems with the new one became apparent, and now I've just declared it to be theirs. I wasn't using it much since I got my laptop. Like I said, I feel responsible. They are happy with this, they just feel a bit cheesed-off that the computer shop has their money after all the crap service, insults, and lies.

Interestingly, the computer I have given them was put together by exactly the same company. But that was back when they hadn't been going too long, they only had the one shop, and building a good reputation was everything to them.

I am still angry. Steve is having a think about the video - legal and technical issues, reducing the filesize, what to do about the "don't quote me on this" section, that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

it sounds like you are more than within your rights to use the sale of goods act against them
to quote from the opening lines:

Aspects of quality include:
• fitness for purpose, freedom from minor defects, appearance and finish, durability and safety.

• It is the seller, not the manufacturer, who is responsible if goods do not conform to contract.

the PC is clearly not "fit for purpose" and even if the seller is a person you already knew, he's in breach.
I would demand a full refund of all monies or a fully functioning machine withing a proper timescale (a week or so) or threaten them with small claims court.

This kind of thing is a travesty of procedure, I hate to say it, but a visit to p* w*r*d might have been easier for them, in the long run.


Mary said...

Anonymous M
"I would demand a full refund of all monies or a fully functioning machine withing a proper timescale (a week or so) or threaten them with small claims court."

Well, yes. They've had repeated opportunities to provide us with a fully functioning machine - he insists it works in his shop, we get it home and it doesn't work. Yet every other device we've used in the house - desktop, laptop, palm device, whatever - works fine.

We've asked for a refund, several times, he insisted that the machine works, no matter what we say, and therefore he doesn't have to give us a refund.

We mentioned the small claims court, trading standards, etc. He warned us to seek proper legal advice before we started anything of the sort because he is adamant he has met "all legal and moral obligations" - in fact he feels he has surpassed them!

At the moment, I'm ever so slightly pasted, and Steve is fixing his bike, studying, and checking the implications of putting the video of the dodgy engineer up on the internet.

Anonymous said...

Apologies if you know this already, Mary. But going to Trading Standards isn't like starting legal proceedings. From what I understand, they give you advice to help you sort your problem first. Of course they can prosecute. Although they won't be able to tell you this, it may be that other people have complained about the shop too, which could help in the "your word against theirs".

So, in short, if you haven't, do get in touch with your local office.

Mary said...

Vic - all input is appreciated :)

I just haven't got the energy right now to do anything that draining.

Anonymous said...

you can ask Trading Standards to help with the legal procedings too. If there is a breach they feel they want to follow up, the case is then PC Bloke vs Trading Standards, and you will then only be a witness, not an antognist. THEY take the financial hit, not you.

Suggest to them that their time is up and you require a resolution now. Maybe in a day or so at most.
A "working PC" will boot and operate in the store as well as in the home. I'd ask them to boot it and use it in the shop, with you and them both present to show it's working, or not. Since it's clear it's not going to perform at all, let alone how it's supposed to, then you can request an immediate and full refund. Maybe even ask T.S. to have a rep present?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I promise this is my last comment on this until/unless you post again. I well know the feeling of not even being able to face thinking about something like this.

But, I think it might have to be the owners that deal with trading standards. Apparently you do have up to 6 years to prove the computer is/was inherently faulty.

Mary said...

I'm kind of giving up for now - the weather is having a really bad effect on me and I have to avoid all unnecessary stress in order to keep as healthy as I can.

Vic, rest assured all your input is appreciated, even if I don't manage to act on any of it, it's still really nice of you to have taken the trouble to dig up links and info.