Saturday 25 July 2015

Companies Behaving Badly

There are some things that we are simply better without; things that, once they are gone, you feel little reason to mourn. Things like Windows 98, or the Windows 8 Charm bar. This week I've added the Comet Group to that list. You'll probably remember the consumer electronics and white goods giant that went bust at the end of 2012, and one of our customers is unlikely to forget them in a hurry either.

The story starts with the MacBook Pro that was brought in with a faulty touchpad. Our initial thoughts were that this was most likely to have been caused by a liquid spill, but the customer was adamant that he had never had any little accidents with his laptop. He explained that he had bought it from Comet shortly before they went into administration using a voucher provided by his insurance company which allowed him to purchase a brand-new machine to replace one which he had broken. The touchpad problem had started shortly afterwards, but hadn't been a problem initially as it was only intermittent to begin with. Over time the problem got worse and when we opened up the laptop there was visible corrosion on the motherboard that could only have been caused by liquid damage.

At that point we simply assumed that the customer had spilt liquid on his laptop without noticing it, or somebody else had without telling him, but then we made a rather curious discovery. If you're familiar with the insides of Apple's laptops you will know that there are several liquid indicators incorporated into the case. When they get wet they turn red and stay red, and the one mystery was that despite clear evidence of water damage all the indicators were still white. While we were pondering this mystery Lee peered closely at one of the indicators and suddenly got a glimpse of red where the indicator appeared to be peeling up slightly. It turned out that what we were actually looking at were some small round and very professionally produced stickers that had been placed over the top of the liquid indicators to disguise the tell-tale red warnings.

Our client assures us that we are the first people to take his laptop apart since he bought it, which leads us to believe that he had been sold a water damaged, and poorly reconditioned unit, which had led to the eventual failure of the touchpad.

This is the sort of despicable behaviour that we sometimes see at the bottom end of our industry, but when this sort of fraudulent behaviour comes from a large plc it is absolutely reprehensible, and my only regret is that we are unable to take any action against Comet as they no longer exist. Which on balance is probably a good thing.

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