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Help, Suspecting I was ripped off

by k6lw / June 27, 2006 2:14 PM PDT

I'm fearing the technician we hired has swapped some of our components for lower quality devices. Here is my story.....

After my PC failed completely I called a computer repair company from the yellow pages.

We paid to have our motherboard, CPU, and RAM replaced. The processor/CPU was replaced with an AMD Athlon XP 2400+, this is documented in our receipt.

After getting the computer back we purchased a new GeForce FX 5500 256 MB Video card from Best Buy. Soon after only a few months with the computer the new motherboard failed, so we took the PC back.

Upon getting the computer back we began encountering problems so we inspected the system, and found the Processor/CPU to now be an AMD Athlon XP 1800+, and the graphics card to be an NVIDIA RIVA TNT 2 model 64 32 MB.

Do my concerns seem to be warranted. We called the individual tonight, and left a message, but we haven't heard back yet. What are my options, any advice, any help would be appreciated thanks.


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If what you say...
by PKsteven / June 27, 2006 3:29 PM PDT

is indeed true, yes you were extremely ripped off. However, you are part to blame as when getting anything worked on, you should check the credentials of the person, make sure they are indeed certified, ask for your old parts back (you have every right)and shown proof of what was put in. If this person doesn't have a good explanation and you have absolute proof of what has occured, call the better business bureau, a lawyer perhaps, and file a complaint. Once again, a pc technician taking parts that don't belong or without consulting you, is nothing less than theft.
You may even file a police report, however the methods vary from state to state. Contacting the person who did this may simply tip them off and if you were ripped off, go to other means. That is my opinion.


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thanks for replying
by k6lw / June 27, 2006 3:37 PM PDT
In reply to: If what you say...

Some of my software has also been uninstalled.

I heard that the Registry records software and hardware changes is that true? How would I go about this?

I think some of my media was deleted also is there a deleted file log stored anywhere?

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Software, hardware, registry , oh my...
by PKsteven / June 27, 2006 4:02 PM PDT
In reply to: thanks for replying

As far as your OS goes, it may have had to be re-installed depending. This can be a common thing but your WindowsXP if what you had, is designed to detect the hardware changes so may not have had to be touched. Also, it depends on this, were any original items left on your pc that aren't common programs. Like pictures, music files etc...? Are you sure there isn't a fresh OS install and SOME of your files were simply saved and put back on? As far as the registry question, yes, but you have to know what you are looking for, here is a link that explains a bit about the registry...

It's easier said than done.

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by k6lw / June 27, 2006 4:15 PM PDT

Some Games I had installed were still installed on the PC. Most music, video, and image files I had were in the same places, but some were missing.

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Wouldn't worry...
by PKsteven / June 27, 2006 4:30 PM PDT
In reply to: thanks

about the Os to be honest. The hardware is the costly part and if what said is true, you can prove it far more easily. If you are mad that your OS was messed with , I understand, it feels personal but you have to stick with the hardware issues. This is Fraud where I live. Many have lost liscenses, went to jail, etc...over this type of thing.


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This is why.........
by Glenda / June 28, 2006 12:53 PM PDT
In reply to: thanks

I install all of my own hardware! Get a book,learn how! Much cheaper too

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Palm Beach FL Rip OFF
by rstinnett / June 29, 2006 8:08 PM PDT
In reply to: This is why.........

I was at a small owner Computer shop in Palm Beach looking for parts. While I was there, a Woman and her 8-9 year old son came in with a nice newer system for repair. I overheard her say that her son split a soda on the keyboard and that the computer was off and they never turned it on. She was afraid that the computer was shorted out already as the power plug was in the wall. The guy gave a story that well it is probably destroyed totally now and would cost more than replace it with a new one, I will give you $30 for it. I about fell out over this.. This Guys got Big ones to do this.. She only needed a Keyboard. So the lady said OK I will take the $30 for the computer. This was a monitor, tower, soda laiden keyboard, mouse and speakers..I wanted to go over and talk to the lady, but it happened so fast.. Deal was over and done with.. So Homie the owner had a nice High end Sony system for sale the following day. I have never been back since, and passed the word on.

If you are not sure where to take your computer for repair, check with your local college.. Most have Computer Repair courses and would welcome the repair for that day of the course. And while you are there, sign up for the course. It is not as hard as one would think and after the course you can help save your friends and families computers from rip off places as well.

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Palm Beach Rip-off
by BobbyO / June 30, 2006 12:04 AM PDT
In reply to: Palm Beach FL Rip OFF

Why not let everyone know who this "rip-of" atrist posing as a computer repair technician is?

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(NT) (NT) Because, without absolute proof, have you heard of SLANDER?
by PKsteven / June 30, 2006 4:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Palm Beach Rip-off
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Not wanting to get involved = guilt by inaction
by rlmikel3698 / June 30, 2006 2:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Palm Beach FL Rip OFF

You sorry sack of sh*t. You saw this lady getting ripped off and didn't say anything to her? By not getting involved when you saw the fraud ocurring, you're as guilty as the shop owner. I hope your power supply shorts out and fries your whole system.

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by PKsteven / June 30, 2006 4:42 AM PDT

I always get involved especially if someone is getting a bad deal or whatever but sometimes things happen so fast that we don't have time to let it sink in. Some do, some don't. So before you become judge and jury (which you aren't) this person may have done good things for others but simply got confused. This has happened to me and I am typically a quick thinker. Perhaps the woman may not have known about a computer but common sense should have been in place too as I would get a second opinion even w\o knowing about a pc or tv etc...


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guilt by inaction
by devo2u / July 6, 2006 11:02 PM PDT

amen to that brother, this is a case of where there ought to be a law. To stand by and just eaves drop while a con artist rips off a mother and son of their computer was a cowardly and unexcusable for not stepping in and stopping this act dead in it's track. That excuse for not doing anything about it because it happened so fast is a total line of BS, which brings up the question in my mind if any of it actually ever happened to begin with.

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This is an opportunity for CNET
by marcwilliams / January 22, 2010 9:48 AM PST
In reply to: If what you say...

CNET should create local forums to report on all the computer shops out there but also the plethoea of "Guru's who do the same to/for people. Not only for Computer repair but electronics in general; something along the lines of what does for homes.

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(NT) (NT) Get a solicitor on the case
by Themisive / June 29, 2006 10:42 PM PDT
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Outright theft
by Brianstech / June 30, 2006 12:09 AM PDT

Start by calling them. Tell them you have all receipts, and took pictures of the inside of your tower. The more they evade you, the more demanding you should be.

If they don't kiss up, gather the receipts and call the police.

I'm sure this is THEFT in all states, and the threat of charges should wake them up. If the police seem reluctant, threaten the shop with a lawsuit.

I would even go so far as to mention all my internet friends who would love to hear of these escapades. Tell them the word will travel fast.

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This is fraud.
by tsengu / June 30, 2006 1:12 AM PDT

You were ripped off by this shop if you've got documentation as to what they put in for a mainboard, cpu, and ram. I think you can easily prove they switched it on you, probably knowing it was a close enough match for XP to do an autodetect rather than outright crash/blue screen. You're best to file a criminal complaint for theft with the police. Taking them to small claims court probably results in them not showing, you getting a judgement against them, and not being able to collect because their business is protected or is in debt situation. In my state criminal felony charges come in at I think $200, which is easily the value of the cpu, board, and memory you had ''repaired''.
It might be possible to check the serial number registration on the cpu, mainboard, or video card you now have been stuck with to see if they're any kind of refurb or have any issues. I'm aware of several businesses in my area that sell refurbished or used items as new hiding anything they have to. I guess as always, let the buyer beware.
As for your files being missing, you probably signed some sort of authorization when you brought the unit in saying that they're not responsible for data loss.

The only explaination I could see them coming up with would be that the parts they sold you only had a 30 or 90 day warranty, and that they replaced everything with what they had handy (for free) that was close rather than order the exact parts and replace them (at expense to the shop or possibly to you). The CPU and video card differences are notable enough that this is a case of fraud. You wonder how many times they've pulled this over on people.

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Where to Start
by achittineni / June 30, 2006 3:01 AM PDT

First things first. One of the biggest mistakes you can make are to go in on the offensive as some people have suggested. Ensure you are knowledgable (which you have already done by looking to see what was in the computer) and that you simply state the facts. If you go in to the technician on the offensive, his back will go up and you will come out with nothing. However, if you go in knowledgable, the technician will realize that you know what you're talking about and he can no longer attempt to pull anything over you.

First things first, make sure you back up your harddrive (i.e. your My Documents folder and any other important files) before returning. Tell him what you want (i.e. your original video card and a proper working version of the processor you originally paid for). If he isn't willing to give you that, ask him why. You paid for those items, therefore, they are yours.

If he refuses to do the work and fix his mistakes, ask him for new versions of the parts and see if you can atleast walk out with the proper parts. At this point, if you still have problems, you can start going on the offensive. First step is to mention that if he doesn't fix the issue, you will complain to the Better Business Bureau about theft/fraud. Of course, if he isn't a member, he won't care. The next step is to suggest that you will bring the police into the matter and have criminal charges laid for theft. If none of this works, then leave, cut your losses and proceed with both of those suggestions. While you could proceed with legal ramifications, the cost (including the cost of your time) would be more than the cost of a new computer and likely would not be particularly successful in changing this technician's way of doing things.

In the future, when selecting computer technicians, look for ones that are members of the Better Business Bureau in your area (you can check out their website for complaints records and everything), or, if you want to avoid that step, go with a company that is well respected in the community. Believe it or not, I'd suggest taking your computer in to places such as Staples or Best Buy and have their technicians do the work on that. At least you have more recourse in the event that something goes wrong.

Hope that helps!

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by PKsteven / June 30, 2006 4:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Where to Start

I don't suggest going to the tech as you DON'T know what kind of person this is and WARN you strongly not to do so. If you have ABSOLUTE PROOF, go elsewhere! If you anger the tech or tip him off there may be more than your PC to deal with! If he can rip you off like this, it's hard to say if you anger him at all(as said) you DON'T know what will happen!



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Why were all those components "replaced"?
by farhansyed / June 30, 2006 3:14 AM PDT

''After my PC failed completely I called a computer repair company from the yellow pages.

We paid to have our motherboard, CPU, and RAM replaced. The processor/CPU was replaced with an AMD Athlon XP 2400+, this is documented in our receipt.''

What kind of computer was it? If it was an E-Machines socket A (AMD Duron or Athlon XP) or socket 478 (Intel Celeron) model from 2001 to 2003, then you should be aware that the cheap motherboards E-Machines used have known design problem where electrolytic capacitors on the board start swelling and leaking. This first manifests itself as random crashes/lockups/blue screen errors, but as it gets worse, the computer will randomly reboot itself and then eventually the day comes where you push the 'power' button and the fans come on, but nothing else happens and nothing gets displayed on the screen.

In any case, the motherboard is the ONLY defective component, and the CPU, memory, drives, and everything else can be reused from the old board. Even the heatsink and fan can be reused, unless the fan is worn out. We do recommend replacing the substandard Bestec power supply with a standard off-the-shelf ATX power supply when repairing these units, but other than that you should not have been asked to replace anything, and certainly not the 2 most expensive parts in the machine (the processor and RAM).

It sounds to me like this person thought they found a sucker, and not only charged you for better/costlier parts than what you needed, but they either reused your old parts and didn't tell you, or took your old parts and gave you even worse quality used ones. Perhaps that person is/was running an Ebay business and then making huge profits reselling all the "defective" parts that he asks people to replace.

In the future, do not deal with sleazy computer repair ''firms'' that you see advertised in the local phone book or that leave flyers on your front door knob. Instead, either have one of your friends or family members that know what they're doing take a look at it, or bring it to a reputable electronics and computer store for service. A licensed business will not pull the kind of crap that this person did, especially if it's a big company like Best Buy, Comp USA, etc.

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Not much to do
by jnbhoward / June 30, 2006 4:29 AM PDT

While it sounds like you were ripped off, it's going to come down to your word against his.

You can file a complaint with the police and even try taking them to small claims court, but you need to understand that nothing may come of it.

It may just have to be an expensive lesson in making sure you deal only with credible people. It's also a good reason to take up learning how to do some of this stuff yourself. I think of it like learning how to change the oil in a car and some other basic repair type things. You don't need to become a master mechanic or anything like that. Just enough so that you have a sense for when someone's feeding you a line.

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A lot of good advice
by Brianstech / June 30, 2006 7:37 AM PDT

While revisiting this thread, I can't believe I overlooked some of the obvious.

I've never seen a MB, CPU, AND RAM go bad all at the same time. I'm sure that is possible if the power supply went wacky. But you didn't mention it being replaced. Nor the hard drive, which could also fry in that scenario.

There's a possibility you were taken in the first place.

Anyway, My original suggestion was a knee-jerk reaction to theft. It ticks me off to see such things happening.

I can't honestly say if you should go in there with your guns drawn, or the more subtle approach.

And the recommendations here go in all directions. They are actually all good suggestions.

And most computer savvy people can't diagnose those types of failures.

Good luck, no matter what road you take.

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ripped off
by wcoffey81 / July 2, 2006 11:23 PM PDT

you don't say where you are from or how long ago this happened we, up until late last year, had a business here in s. e. michigan that did exactly what you are describing to hundreds of customers over several years.
i worked at a different local shop and faced the rath of quite a number of his ex-customers. he left for a southern state in the typical "middle of the night" method that you hear about.
the sad part of this story is that he had a loyal following and customers that kept returning to him for more and more abuse. he had a nice yellow pages ad and placed notices in the local paper on a regular basis plus his location was in the mall.
if i had to guess he probably made more money selling the used high-end parts he "borrowed" out of systems than he did doing actual service work!
if you have serial numbers and/or pictures of your system before the "repairs" go to the local police

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by TCALLDAY / July 5, 2006 8:03 AM PDT
In reply to: ripped off

There might be something you can do legally,but whats to stop him(her) from saying you must have changed the parts yourself. I think it comes down to your word against his(hers) and who would be more believeable in front of a small claims judge. Try talking to him(her) either in person or on the phone its possible he(she) has a thief working there, and it wasn't him(her) but his cousin that borrowed your parts. He(she) might have an issue with an employee. If he(she) is a thief, giving him a plausable out might work in your favor. Guilt can be a wonderful motivator if applied correctly. Try to remain calm and keep your wits about you try to get him(her) to come to the solutin of the problem. If you could just get your old parts back you've won. Then as someone else previously suggested take a computer repair corse and do it yourself or pay top dollar to the kids at the big companies, or just buy a new tower set up each time yours dies.

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