Office Depot Support Scam

Convenient Does Not Equal Good

We love the interactions we have with our clients – it’s what makes doing business really enjoyable. We cringe, however, when we hear that they took one of their PCs to a big box retailer for repair instead of coming to us. Granted, PC repair is not at the forefront of our services, but we know that many of the “geeks” in these places couldn’t distinguish between a virus and an email from grandma. And so it pains us to hear the prices paid for services rendered, or the work billed for that wasn’t done or the data unnecessarily lost and then blamed on hardware failure. Unfortunately, many people take their computer to these places because they are convenient and they think that because they have a big storefront they can be trusted (and, honestly, in our industry it’s an unfortunate truth the good IT people are hard to find).

The Scam

We’ve always kind of suspected that more is going on at these big boxes than genuine care and concern for peoples’ computers, they are, after all, businesses built onofficedepot sales and quotas, not necessarily expertise in services. This past week, though, is the first time I’ve heard of systematic, blatant deception in order to meet sales quotas. An insider at Office Depot is alleging that employees are being pushed to “fix” non-existent viruses on computers, charging customers for unneeded services in order to meet performance quotas. Big box stores are there to sell stuff, not fix stuff – sales is their specialty, not service. The motivation (at least on a corporate level) is a healthy bottom line.

The Significance

This incident (besides emphasizing suspicions about big box retailers), highlights the importance of finding a good IT professional that you can trust. There have been many times when I’ve been discussing an issue with a client and I can see their eyes glaze over. At that point I could probably tell them aliens have hacked into their computers and are using them to mind control all the rabbits in North America. The point: it can be super easy for an IT professional to take advantage of clients, through a bunch of technical jargon (or, evidently, in the case of Office Depot, outright deception). IT pros are like mechanics, it can be hard to find a good one, and even harder to find one that earns your trust. Finding that one you can trust will take some effort, but in the end it means you won’t get taken.

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