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May 21, 2003
Consumer Repair Invesatigation
By Craig Fiegener ABC Channel 30

    FRESNO -- Computer problems can leave you feeling helpless. When yours breaks, can you rely on a professional to correctly find the problem?
     Consumer Watch put local computer repair shops to the test. Greg Aiello describes his computer as his livelihood, "I do every bit of my work on that computer.
     Every dollar I make comes out of that computer." Yet, like most of us with computers, he knows little about them, "I don't know a whole lot about computers ... I mean, I know the programs I work on."
     Aiello is a freelance photographer and graphics designer who periodically does work for ABC-30. Recently, his computer broke down. He turned to Comp USA in Fresno to fix it, "It was about as confidence inspiring as dropping off my computer at a drive in Taco Bell."
     That's because he says Comp USA quoted him three different prices to fix it and he still isn't clear what's wrong with it. Aiello is not alone.
     Consumer Watch has received numerous complaints from viewers about computer repairs. Coarsegold Elementary schoolteacher, John Carippo, spent close to a decade fixing computers for a living. He says many people who repair them are not qualified.
     He compares computers with cars, "How do you know that the throwout bearing is out in your transmission in your car? How do you know the ring cylinder will fix it?
     It's the same thing." With Carippo's help, we decided to investigate. Carippo altered two computers for our investigation.
     One a Dell, the other a Compaq. Both worked perfectly normal, but now the Dell has a software problem and the Compaq has a bad hard drive. We had the changes verified by Fresno State's computer engineering department and took them to six different repair shops small ones like Custom Computers Plus and bigger companies, like Best Buy and Comp USA. The diagnostic results were all over the board.
    The Compaq with a bad hard drive Best Buy diagnosed the problem as a system disk problem. Custom Computer Plus told us the computer had a virus and windows needed to be reinstalled. Computer Mania pinpointed the problem correctly to a bad hard drive.
     As for the Dell with the software problem Computer 4U told us it had a bad hard drive. Comp USA wouldn't work on it, and Alliant Technology correctly diagnosed the problem as software related.
     Tim Hackmann, from Mac Daddy, says just because someone works at a computer store, it doesn't mean they know what they're doing, "When you talk to a technician, you believe them. They work in a computer store.
     They must know, which isn't always the case." Hackmann says people need to educate themselves, learn the basics, like the difference between a software and hardware problem. Software deals with the programs installed and running on your computer like Microsoft Windows.
     Hardware deals with equipment, like hard drives and CD roms. Before taking your computer to a shop, trouble shoot yourself. Re-install your system disk.
     Your computer likely came with one when you bought it. We had Hackmann, a certified Apple dealer, look at Aiello's computer.
   Aiello says Comp USA told him both the hard drive and CD rom need to be replaced. Hackman agrees with the CD rom assessment but, says the hard drive is still working, "It booted up. That is the first indication that it works." Some computer experts we talked to say there are gray areas when diagnosing computer problems.
     Never the less, Aiello and others need to educate themselves. The computer stores in our investigation stand by their diagnostic tests.
     Best Buy says it uses PC certified tools to diagnose machines, and the company is always looking to improve the repair process.
    Our repeated attempts to secure a response from Comp USA have been unsuccessful.

For helpful linksto computer trouble shooting, you can visit:




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