Advice re: customer and viruses, spyware, etc...

  Gaz 25 04:21 15 Jul 2004

Hi all,

I was a little stuck for words on my title, but hopefully I can sum it up here.

I have built a system for a 'customer' and he has been happy with the computer - and since bought another one and connected WiFi up to both of them. Anyway recently he complained one of them was extreamly slow while the other one wouldnt start into windows.

Investigated the problem further - run various antivirus and spyware programs.... MicroWorld eScan, Panda, TrendMicro, McAfee free scan, and norton's online scan. Spyware apps such as spybot, adaware, CWShredder, Hijack this.

To my amazement I had to use Kazaa begone to get rid of Kazaa and blow me 321 Viruses, yes you heard that right 321. Three hundred and twenty one. Ranging from Downloader.GK/.HH/.CK,etc to Briss.A, sasser, Downloader.Ject, 1st Bar dropper,, Fizzer, Sobig, Mimal, DJ.VBS, lovegate....and a few polymorphs, small.a and so on... To many to list. Including over 100 spywares and dialers such as TeenSex, etc... :-o And to be honest eScan antivirus I will add - did a nice job at removing them. The free one as well! Toolkit version.

However after that and repaired a few items such as the infected Notepad.exe - PC returned to nice working order. Fast!

The other PC is erm - litterly had all system files deleted. My guess? Virus! Had to reinstall OS completly.

Tested hardware with various tools - and also checked memory with memtest. All shows up as: OK. They are all brand name parts from MSI, AMD, Kingston, Sapphire, etc.

Now I said that my warranty, does NOT include these sofware and security issues and is stated clearly in the terms of sale, therefore I will unfortunatly have to charge since the problem is not hardware related, thus not my responsibility. Agreed? Customers responsibility to protect their computers and ensure sofwtare is safe.

Anyway he started to get really angry and abusive - requesing that he not pay the money. I'm only asking very little money as well only £15. Which for the time involved I would say is fair.

Anyway, he is refusing to pay and is requesting the system back and me set-it-up in his home on wifi for him at no cost - he says it should be in the warranty, etc, etc.

Then he is complaining to me about the fact Norton Antivirus didn't detect the viruses. How am I supposed to know? I tried serveral different on-demand (not real-time) scanners to find as many as I did, and it cirtainly isnt in my warranty to do virus removal for free.

Had quite a long not arguement, but disscussion with various dissagreements on several things on the phone today. ;-o And he did more or less say its all my fault - I should have made sure the Preinstalled norton protected him, and windows Xp shouldnt corrupt like that - is all my fault. Ah.. but if he goes on the websites that include viruses then he's bound to have start-up issues, slowness, etc...

Anyway thankgodness I have insurance and a disclaimer/terms of sale.

What do you guys think?

Whats a good charge for this type of problem?

Should he be able to have a system fixed under a warranty for any reason including viurses for free?

Thanks very much indeed! Sorry it's long and sorry about the other posting on the helproom.

Regards, Gareth

  GANDALF <|:-)> 07:20 15 Jul 2004

He caused the problem by installing kazaa so he could listen to copyright music without paying....his fault and he should cough up big time. If he goes to hookey sites then he should suffer the consequences..bit like a new car buyer that polishes their car with Brasso and then complains that the paint is no good. PCW have a problem with customers who always think that they are right.


  Ranger 08:28 15 Jul 2004

my own personal view is much the same as Gandalphs if he wants to use Kazza he has to risk the consequences, anti viruse can only protect you so much as my young niece has found out on numerous occassion, I have had to remove umpteen viruses from her PC and had to reformat her HD at least 4 times (the last time it had 6 different viruses and 279 infected files)and this is all because of Kazza, I have used a different anti virus each time I have reformatted, including Norton, AVG,Avast,Panda and McAffee to see if any would be better than the other, im my experience no AV is 100% in detecting viruses and you certainly have to help the AV by being responsible with what you download/open/run etc.

As for charges for fixing this guys PC, I think you are well within your rights to charge for sorting out his lack of secure practises

  Dumble452 08:54 15 Jul 2004

click here

and this

click here

for what the big boys charge

  The Spires 09:31 15 Jul 2004

I wonder what sites he has been on?

  Steve Le 10:11 15 Jul 2004

Well I'm fairly new to this PC marlarkey. I would guess I knew less than your customer did when I purchased my PC 2 months ago.

I think it is my responsiblity to protect my pc, not the vendor and I wouldn't expect someone else to put things right (for free) if I had failed to protect it or had not bothered to look at some of the extra's like ad gator that come with Kazaa and Real Player.

My first scan with Ad aware revealed 67 various adware and tracking cookies and Spybot Search and Destroy another found another 6.

Nothing anything like some of the stuff found on your customers machine and nothing critical.

I think all new PC owners would benefit from spending a week or so reading the posts on this site. Everything I know about PC security has come from here (including the various links I have followed)



  Steve Le 10:18 15 Jul 2004

oops. Now I just need a tutorial in typing my name just the once.


  Q-Bie 10:32 15 Jul 2004

Welcome to my world ;)

I have ot deal with this softw of customer day in, day out at PC World, and unfortuatly some of them do often get abusive. We do quite clearly layout that software problems/viruses aren't covered by either the 12 month warranty or an extended service agreement, but it doesn't seem to help.

Healthchecks aren't a fix to all problems either, occasionally we come across a virus that can't successfully be removed so we have to just reinstall the whole PC, again charging the customer and of course, they have to pay.

I'm eagerly awaiting XP SP2 to come out, the new security enhancements in IE and the new Security Centre should make stuff like this a lot less common... well, at least if a customer does come in with viruses we can just say.. didn't that constant warning that XP was giving you saying your PC wasn't up to date give you a small clue you're at risk?

Anyway, Gaz I'm with you on this one, there is no way you can be responsible for the software after it leaves your store. The MOST you could do is install up-to-date virus definitions up until the day the PC left yoru store, anything since then it's the customers responsility to update themselves. You can't come around their house every weekend and update all their security patches and virus scanners can you? And if he wants to install Kazaa or any P2P application, he takes the risks of downloading Trojans, Viruses and having masses of Spyware installed on his PC.

Reasonable Charge? I'd say anywhere between £20 and £40 depending on the amount of work required, and how long the Virus scan takes (we once had a PC infected with the netsky virus, and it took 18 hours to scan... had 29,000 infected files) :o

  Taran 10:54 15 Jul 2004

As long as you are up front from the outset about the costs involved and have a well written disclaimer detailing your level of responsibility and support you are OK.

I suspect what has happened here is that your customer assumed/believed that all support is/was free as part of aftersales backup. It's a very common misconception.

I'd suggest in future that all systems you build are delivered with a carefully written document that explains in full that you are not responsible for personal data files or software issues unless it is with the OS and driver setup on the as-delivered PC. Software problems of the nature you describe will only be rectified at cost.

Wording your disclaimer is something that you may want to seek a bit of guidance on. There are a lot of ins and outs that need to be covered.

If payment was agreed before you started work then your customer has no real cause to dispute the matter. If it wasn't, you don't really have a strong case since you should inform people of cost implications prior to starting work and not just assume that people will pay for something.

A close friend who builds and supplies systems and networks has started bundling a full image of the drive in its as-delivered condition and the customer is made fully aware from the beginning that software support is available, but only as an optional extra with a cost penalty. In all other cases unless the problem is with the software and drivers in the system as it was delivered there is a cost involved. A brief instructional leaflet describes how to use the drive image to restore the system and it is an arrangement that seems to work quite well in many cases.

If you didn't make the costs clear before you began working on the systems then I'm afraid you will have to chalk this one up to experience and hand the computers back. Make sure that your customer is made aware that in future such problems will only be rectified on a paid for basis and that you are waiving the cost this time as a good will gesture. I'm suggesting that based upon the assumption that you did not agree a cost of any sort at the beginning.

I'd also suggest that in future all systems dropped off for such repairs are logged using a simple tracking system and that a receipt for the PC is handed over on a document that clearly states the costs involved in the event that Windows requires reinstallation, virus files are detected and cleared and so on. Get your customer to sign the document when they drop the computer off, ask them to read it first, and make it plain from the beginning what the baseline costs are likely to be. Keep one copy for yourself on file and give them a copy. That way you at least have a minimum agreed amount that both of you are aware of and you can telephone them to have additional work authorised if need be.

When you say "...he says it should be in the warranty..." you only need to point out that no, in fact it isn't in the warranty and therefore it isn't covered by it. Should or should not is opinion and conjecture. Is and is not is fact. You could also point out that PC World and individual manufacturers like Packard Bell and Hewlett Packard also do not reinstall or reinstate software and configure wireless networks on site as part of their warranty cover. Setting up the WiFi at his home seems vastly unreasonable.

However, back to the point I mentioned above, as a trader you have to be 100% up front from the outset with everything and a well worded disclaimer, repair tracking form and warranty will make sure both you and your customers know where they stand. You really only have two choices and whichever one you choose should be selected based on whether you made the person aware of what they were getting into, or not as the case may be.

I know this is a stable door and bolting horse series of comments but from your description it is unclear whether the cusomter actually had any idea that a cost penalty would be applied for the work involved.

Nobody covers a PC against virus infection or against problems caused by software other than that supplied with the system. You just have to make sure your customers understand that.

  spuds 12:30 15 Jul 2004

Have a price list for your services, and make sure that your terms and conditions direct your customers to the additional work charges.I would also add any collection or delivery arrangements and costs involved, including extras for on-site work which could prove troublesome [nothing like having the customer peering over your shoulder all the time, asking questions].I know this is irrelevant in your case, but how many times have you heard the dread story of the service engineer who had a cup of tea/coffee and biscuits with a little chat, and this time went on the hourly charge timesheet, which the customer paid for.

I was involved with a machinery plant hire business, and it was surprising how many times in the domestic hire section, I was called out to refill an empty diesel or petrol tank after a full one/two days work usage.The domestic customer always expected us to provide the repeat refuelling of the machines, even though our terms and conditions made it quite clear that it was the customers responsibilty and at their cost. You just couldn't win in some cases.

So price list for services, and refuse to do these services before payment arrangement is agreed. The likes of PCW make a special charge for this services, so why shouldn't you.I know that it is a difficult decision to make if you are a one man band, and you are trying to build up a business. But at the end of the day, you have bills to pay like anyone else, and in business you have to draw the line at some point.

  Gaz 25 13:59 15 Jul 2004

its a great help and making decisions with what I can do next.

He has just sent me transcripts of snippents of my site, delibritly cutting out the terms and conditions apply statement.

How cheeky is this?

I state quite clearly on the Terms of Sale page that I DO NOT cover any software, viruses, spyware. It covers Only hardware.

I dont mind helping the customer in any way - software or hardware. However I am not going to fix the problem on his door step for zero cash.

Just got 12 e-mails from him - a snip from his e-mail:

Following our telephone call yesterday, I am e-mailing you to see if the 2 computers are running OK?

A few points I want to re-mention are as follows, please take these into consideration now:

We have paid >£1,000 for 2 computers (not including any monitors) which boody expensive for something that does'nt work.

They have never really worked satisfactorily since they were networked together (both the wireless and internet connections having both been poor to-date)

Also, having read your support claims(see below), it is clear that you offer a full 12 months warranty.

Your web page also explains that you strongly recommend the latest anti-virus software to be installed ...which we did buy from you.

Therfore whatever we do on our computers is none of your business and I find it unacceptable that you are trying to charge me because of what you say is caused by viruses. We bought your antivirus software you said on the website and it hasnt protected us, you say you have 12month warranty and fixing it should be included.

Also, Laura's computer is 'faulty' and needs to be repaired, again free-of-charge under the warranty.

If this system needs to 'go back to factory settings', then I am happy for you to do this at zero charge but I'm NOT paying. This is included in the warranty.

< I will add here that nither computers are faulty - I have tested them both hardware level and none components are fully. >

I suggest the followin plan of action:

Both systems are repaired free-of-charge asap.

Both systems are networked and run together for several days in your home and tested.

Both systems are then installed at our home and the necessary wireless connections are completed at zero charge.

The 12 months warranty date needs to be specified clearly as to when it started and when it will finish.

If this continues I will request money back.

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