AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Computer support & repair

Contents

Computers are not always problem free. You should think about support options when, or even before, you buy a PC. Find out exactly what support is provided, how long it lasts and how much it costs.

Support services

Support services tend to consist of:

  • Telephone helplines
Most sellers and manufacturers provide access to a helpline that you can phone for advice. This can be a quick and easy solution, and is often the first place you are advised to go to if you have a problem, but you may be charged. Charges can be up to £1.50 a minute, so try to have all relevant information ready before you call.

Before buying, try out the helpline to see how easy it is to get through. If you have to wait a long time then you should think about buying from another seller. Think about how you would feel if you waited as long to sort out a genuine problem.

  • Online services
Many sellers now provide areas on their websites that list common problems and solutions and where you can ask for advice. Ask your seller if they provide such a service and how much it will cost you to access it.

  • Installation services
Installation services may be offered by the supplier, and might be useful if you haven't used a computer before. Again, there may be a charge for installation.

Service contracts

If you enter into a contract for support services on the internet or over the phone, the contract will need to be compliant with the Distance Selling Regulations. You must be made aware, in writing, that these contracts cannot be cancelled once they have commenced on an agreed date.

Repair services

The type of repair service varies between sellers and manufacturers, so ask before you buy. Pick a seller that provides the best service for you. If your PC breaks down, always check whether it is still covered by a warranty as explained below. Repair services are commonly organised in one of the following ways:

  • On-site repair service - where an engineer comes to you to fix faults.
  • Return to base - where you have to send the computer back to a repair centre. You may have to pay the courier fees for transporting it to and from the repair centre.
Manufacturer's warranty

Most new computers will come with a manufacturer's warranty and some manufacturers offer additional warranties which you can purchase to upgrade your original warranty with or top up a warranty that is about to, or has, expired. A warranty typically covers repair and/or replacement and may include protection against accidental damage or theft. Read the small print before purchasing your PC or warranty and find out what it covers and how long it lasts. Software is not always covered.

Remember, rights under a warranty are in addition to your other consumer rights. A warranty doesn't affect your legal right to reject a computer that was faulty when you bought it and get your money back. You can reject your PC due to a fault and request a refund. But don't delay your complaint for too long.

Sometimes the seller refers this guarantee to the buyer and rejects any responsibility for faulty goods. However, it is worth noting that the manufacturer's guarantee will not affect the buyer's right against the seller to claim a refund of the money paid for the goods under Section 14 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (that the goods must be of satisfactory quality and fit for their purpose). However, the buyer must not delay in informing the seller of such defects.

If the seller tries to deny his or her responsibility for your PC and tries to refer you to the manufacturer, you should not accept this excuse.

If things go wrong

If you are unhappy with the service, try to sort it out directly with the seller (or the head office if the seller is part of a chain).