Solved! Was I scammed? A PC repair shop experience...

scerab

Estimable
Aug 2, 2015
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4,580
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Hello everyone,

I would really appreciate your insight on my experience with this repair shop. Here is an account of what transpired.

I bought a used ASUS ROG gaming laptop, i7 6700HQ, 16 RAM, 1 TB HD, GTX 960, windows 10, that had a defective WiFi card and a defective USB port. So I took it to this repair shop with great yelp reviews. They also offer free estimates. After keeping my laptop for 3 days, they quoted me $145 to fix the laptop. $90 to replace the WiFi card and fix the crooked USB port and $55 to format the machine and install windows and the drivers.
I told them that I will pay $90 for the fixes, but I can do my own formatting. They said ok and performed the fixes. The USB port worked fine, the WiFi was working great. So I took my laptop home and start the formatting by going to reset from control panel. The hard drive is wiped clean and windows reinstalled. However, immediately after the format, the laptop starts to act up. It would freeze 15-20 seconds after loading windows. I called the shop and they said to bring in the laptop again. Before taking the laptop, I try a hard restart, by pressing the power button for 60 seconds and the laptop just dies. Nothing I did worked. Remove battery, or clicking on power button. So I freak out and take the laptop back to the repair shop. Now they tell me that they had performed a stress test on the HD and it has less than 1000 hours of operation on it and it is functioning fine outside the laptop. But still gets stuck when in the laptop after loading windows. All other hardware components passed inspection.
Here is the key part, they said that based on everything they did, it’s most likely a software issue and the HD needs a new formatting. I told them I did that. They said I merely did a recovery. They wanted to install windows from an external device. And they wanted that $55 I was not willing to pay initially.

Do you believe they could have done something to the laptop for it to act up so I would have to return it, allowing them to bamboozle more money from me?
Thanks
 

derekullo

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Jan 25, 2009
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Assuming they were able to extract from the hard drive that it had less than 1000 hours of operation on it, you don't fix it by reformating the drive.

You fix it by buying a new drive.

They literally lied to your face telling you the hard drive had about 40 days of life left then saying it was just software.


My guess is they have a random 5+ year old hard drive sitting on the shelf that still works and they want to charge you $55 for it.
 

atomicWAR

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Sep 4, 2007
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Is it possible? Yes a good tech/hacker can get a system to do damn near what they want it to...but they could only do so much without hacking uefi/bios that you couldn't fix yourself. So I label it as unlikely. I'd check your uefi/bios make sure all the settings are good there. A small tweak in the right place, even if on accident, could cause crashes so a factory default might be in order. Then try to reinstall windows...if your still having issues then something else is likely going on.
 

boju

Distinguished


Thought it read they tested the hdd and it has had 1000hrs worth of activity not 1000hrs left.

---

Reset this PC in control panel isn't formatting. Resetting your PC uses the recovery partition to reset Windows to original factory settings. A format if you were to do that, requires you to boot from CD or USB with Windows installation on it and delete partitions to start new and then it formats the hdd clean then reinstall Windows from scratch.

http://www.tomshardware.com/faq/id-3567655/clean-installation-windows.html

---

If you wish to do a hardware reset via power button, the battery must be removed first.

https://www.computerhope.com/jargon/h/hardrese.htm

If you wish to reset Windows either use the reset this PC option in control panel or do it this way.

https://www.techradar.com/au/how-to/computing/how-to-factory-reset-a-laptop-1318286
 

xSimply1337x

Honorable
Jan 16, 2014
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lol. yeah, what you did was just a restore not a format.

Formatting wipes the entire hard drive clean with no OS on it or anything. Just a blank drive.
After doing this, you are to supposed to install Windows.

You can do this all yourself easily enough.
Use a different PC than the laptop for this.

Just have a flash drive that is at least 8GB in size.
Then download and run this software to turn the flash drive into an bootable USB drive with Windows on it.
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10
Download the tool, not the update.

Then plug the flash drive into the laptop and turn it on, once turned on press the appropriate key on your keyboard to be taken to the boot options menu before Windows starts to load up.
Choose to boot from the flash drive.

This will boot you into the installation for Windows.

Once here, click the big install button, then click on the second option which is for custom install.
DO NOT CLICK UPGRADE.
Once in the custom install, highlight each partition by simply clicking on it once and then clicking the delete option below until you have one single empty partition to choose from.

Now with this new empty partition, you can highlight it, then click next to choose it as the drive you want Windows to install on.

The installer will go through the standard old process of installing Windows and once it's all done you will be on the Desktop and from there you can start installing drivers and programs to your liking.

The laptop should have a Windows product key that is on a sticker on the bottom of the laptop, use this to activate Windows.

Make sure to install the same version of Windows that the product key on the sticker is for.
 

atomicWAR

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Are you sure you came home with the same harddrive? That's a scam I have seen run. Bring in a computer for repair...after initial inspection they say its software related. They claim windows is reinstalled and all is well, usually pretty cheaply. You pick up the machine and use it at home to find it slow or crashing. What you don't know is they cloned your HDD onto a crap old one they had laying around and threw it in your system knowing good well it would cause a problem and you would bring it back. They take another "look" at your PC claim the HDD is going bad or is just "slow" even though it was way faster two days prior before they laid hands on it. They then give you back your own drive and charge you for it. Couple of shops got hit for this scam in the bay area some 10 years ago and my buddy was one of the unlucky masses to get screwed. Normally I fixed his gear but I was touring and wasn't around. A couple of tech types picked up on they HDDs sizes changing thus figuring out the ruse then reported it. So It is possible they are screwing you but I suggest some of the fixes mentioned first before making that leap.
 

boju

Distinguished
Well if they did do that with the hdd it may be possible to find out. That's assuming they believe you wouldn't go to that extent. Or the hdd wasn't changed already by the previous owner.

Open laptop and give us model # of hdd and the model # of laptop and we'll check if the hdd is the same this laptop is shipped with. If any luck info is out there to cross reference.
 

atomicWAR

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That would do it...
 

scerab

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Aug 2, 2015
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I apologize for the misunderstanding. I meant to say that I was told the HD was like new and had very low mileage. It was only used for about a 1000 hours. They also did a stress test on it, what ever that means. Basically they are saying the hard drive is not the issue.
 

scerab

Estimable
Aug 2, 2015
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I knew there might be something fishy about this. The laptop was barely used when I bought it form an elderly relative who bought it because he thought it was “light” and not heavy. The shop has great yelp reviews. I guess in this world, there can be no trust. When the laptop stopped working, I freaked out and returned it immediately. Wish I had opened it and checked the HD. If they actually would risk going so far as to place one of their own malfunctioning hard drives to give me the impression that the machine needed further repairs.
I do however remember somthing odd. The laptop was given to them with one user account on windows. That user had a password that worked fine when I first left the laptop at the shop. However, when I came to pick it up, they had created a second user account and made it administrator. The original user account with my name was there, but the old password did not work. I thought that was very strange. But I was going to format or do a recovery and wipe everything so I did not care.

So is there a chance that they might have switched the HDs, created an account with my name on it and put an unknown password so I will not be able to acccess it. All so I would just bring the laptop back and pay them more money. I hope this is not what transpired. They do have great yelp reviews. Would they go this far to make $55?

 

atomicWAR

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Possible yes but I still find it very unlikely. As a rule the few occasions I have to take something to a tech like a desktop/laptop I don't have time to work on, I check all my hardware first. Ram, HDD, etc. I make sure I am aware of the parts my system is using. So if something is swapped out, with or without my knowledge, I know what should be in it's place. Over the years I have had systems returned missing ram, fans, hdd cages, wires, you name it. The vast majority of these mistakes are over sites and the tech/shop was quick to fix it. But on occasion you do get the unscrupulous types, the biggest reason I don't take my gear in if I can avoid it, you need to protect yourself and your data. That and I usually know more then some of the kiddie techs do...but regardless. Point being it is possible you got duped but still unlikely. In the future I encourage you to check your hardware thoroughly before handing it off to anyone and checking it again when you receive it back. I am one who even formats and reinstalls windows myself after a tech has handled my system's OS drive. I certainly don't send data drives in at all. I honestly don't trust anyone with my gear except myself. I suggest you do the same.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
You bought the laptop used, before you had them do the work, did you test it to make sure it was running normally? What did they do to fix the USB ports? Normally you can't do that without a motherboard swap. Before you did this reset, was Windows already installed and running? Why did you do the reset if it was? If it was not running normally, was the system tested before they did the work on the system? Seems like there are a bunch of things that may have happened here, but it all starts with the fact that you got used laptop with broken things, so there is no good way to know if anything else was bad in the system, or what the shop did caused issues or if it's something else.
 
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