It's a simple process we do every day. But when you turn your computer on and something's
not right, you know right away.
There are plenty of options to get computers fixed for a price, Consumer 10's Chuck Strickler
Consumer 10 asked 10TV's IT guy, Josh Waibel, to create a simple problem on a laptop
computer. He changed one setting in what's called the BIOS - a key program that ties together
all hardware on the computer. It is an easy fix in about 30 seconds for someone who knows
what he or she is doing, Strickler reported.
"This is definitely something you can find out while you're doing your diagnostics or
troubleshooting," Waibel said.
So we thought. Consumer 10 sent a producer to take the disabled laptop to a Circuit City
and its Firedog service.
Only a few questions were asked as the producer handed over the computer for a diagnostic
analysis, a full computer check to pinpoint the problem.
Our producer left the business in less than 15 minutes and with a $64.04 bill. Firedog
promised an answer in a week but the call never came. Consumer 10 finally had to call to find
out that the problem was supposedly fixed.
When our producer turned the laptop on at the store, the same error message was seen, Strickler
"The hard drive is working correctly. Your operating system is fried on it, though," said
the technician. "The operating system is essentially dead."
The technician said it would cost an additional $130 to reinstall the operating system.
The same computer with the same problem was taken to Best Buy's Geek Squad.
"Looking at this, (the problem is) probably the hard drive or motherboard - one of the two," the
The diagnostic test cost $62.98. Our producer was out the door in less than 10 minutes
with a few questions asked. The Geek Squad requested our producer to return with the
computer's Windows disc. Once there, the technician began looking at the hard drive.
The tech said he heard a clicking sound.
"It just clicked and that's usually an indicator that the hard drive's bad," the technician
said. He said that he would perform the diagnostic test again at no charge.
Two days later, the Geek Squad called and said the laptop had a bad hard drive.
"It's clicking - making some weird sounds - which is not a good thing," the technician
Waibel said hat he did not hear any clicking on the laptop he doctored for our test.
To fix, the tech suggested installing an $80 hard drive, $39 for the hard drive installation,
$129 for the operating system installation.
Waibel said that the technician suggested other services for a lot more money that were not
really needed - and the proposed fix may not even have fixed the problem.
Consumer 10 then went to Micro Center.
Of the three businesses Consumer 10 checked, the Micro Center worker spent the most time with
our producer - about 20 minutes - and asked many specific questions about the problem, and had our
producer take notes.
Although the diagnostic charge was higher, at $74.67, the computer was picked up a few days
later with everything back to normal.
"(The repair) hinges on all the right questions," Waibel said. "When you're
troubleshooting to figure out what's going on, you should hit on this really quick."
Micro Center said that the company was excited that their technician correctly found and fixed
Circuit City said that its technician did not follow the proper procedures and was therefore not
able to diagnose the problem. The company would not elaborate on what procedures the tech did
not follow. It said that it "will take appropriate action based on the results of our
Best Buy told Consumer 10 that "we should have detected this problem. This is our error,
and our service guarantee would ensure resolution of the problem to the customer's