AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Computer support and repair companies

Contents

Computers aren't always problem free and you might need someone to provide support or repair services.

Support services

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're advised to go to if you have a problem. However, you'll probably be charged for the call, sometimes at a premium rate. Before buying, try out the helpline to see how easy it is to get through.

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'll cost you to use it.

Installation services

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

Service contracts

If you enter into a contract for support services without face-to-face contact with the service provider, e.g. over the phone or on the internet, the contract will need to comply with the distance selling regulations. You must be made aware (usually in writing) of your rights to cancel these contracts.

Repair services

The type of repair service offered varies between sellers and manufacturers, so ask before you buy. Pick a seller that provides the best service for you. If your computer breaks down, always check whether it's still covered by a warranty (see below).

Repair services are commonly organised in one of the following ways:

  • On-site repair service - an engineer comes to you to fix faults
  • Return to base - you have to send the computer back to a repair centre
Manufacturer's warranty

A manufacturer's warranty usually comes with a new computer (and other hardware). It'll typically cover repair or replacement and might include protection against accidental damage or theft. Read the warranty to find out what it covers and how long it lasts. Software isn't always covered.

Rights under a warranty are in addition to your other consumer rights, such as the right to reject a computer that was faulty when you bought it and get a refund for it. However, you mustn't delay in telling the seller or manufacturer of these defects.

Sometimes the seller refers to the manufacturer's guarantee in an attempt to reject responsibility for faulty goods. You shouldn't accept this as an excuse.

What to do if there is a problem

If you're unhappy with the service, try to sort it out directly with the seller, giving them a chance to correct it.

Keep a record of all contact, including dates, times and what was said.

If you don't get the outcome you want, put your complaint in writing to the manager (or the head office if the seller is part of a chain) and send a copy to any trade association the seller belongs to. The association may be able to resolve the dispute.

See Consumer rights for more information.