A cautionary tale about PC Specialist

  Disappointed_Customer 12:16 22 Dec 2011

Hi all, I'm new on this site, but I wanted to share a recent experience with a company called PC Specialist, in case anyone was considering buying from them. My experience might be of interest to anybody in the market for a new desktop PC.

I ordered a bespoke computer from PC Specialist because I needed wireless internet access for my home office, and few off-the-shelf computers provide this. My custom-built PC duly turned up and worked for around two hours, before the wireless internet connectivity began dropping and reconnecting constantly, randomly failing to identify any wireless network or being unable to connect to the ones it did find. This made the computer impossible to use, given the largely online nature of my work.

I returned the computer to PC Specialist in its original packaging, and left numerous screenshots and video clips on the desktop to illustrate the problem, along with a letter explaining the fault. The computer was away for a week, and when it returned, the problem was even more pronounced. Apart from a sticker with a repair number on it, there was no indication that anything had been done to repair it - in a later phone conversation, someone at PC Specialist openly admitted that no repair had been attempted, and the computer was simply sent back to me unfixed.

At this point, I demanded a refund under the Sale of Goods Act, and was assured by a staff member at PC Specialist that this would be actioned within four working days. Instead, I received an automated message on the appointed day saying the computer had been dispatched to me again. This was sent an hour before PC Specialist officially opened, and when I was finally able to get through on the phone, I was told nothing could be done to stop the computer being delivered a third time. Threats, entreaties and pleas for a refund were all flatly ignored - the computer was coming back and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it, despite the previous promises of a refund. Sure enough, the computer arrived back two days later, with key software deleted off the hard drive and the connectivity problem still unfixed.

I am now left with a £600 computer that is unfit for purpose, forcibly returned against my express and explicit wishes by a company whose abdication of responsibility relies on blaming a "software" problem for the repeated failure of the (hardware) wireless card. Based on my experiences, I cannot recommend PC Specialist in any way.

Hope this story is of use to anyone considering a new computer, and thanks for reading.

  HondaMan 13:22 22 Dec 2011


I have sourced computers from this firm before. My only complaint is that the damn things keepo on working, so no ongoing work.

You must have been unlucky as I have found them to be very competitive and reliable in the past.

  PCS.co.uk 13:46 22 Dec 2011

Dear Sir,

I would like to put PC Specialist side across if I may.

Im afraid that you didnt get promised a refund, the PC came back on a refund request and if there had been a hardware fault, once found, one would have been issued, sadly, we have 4 Wireless networks here and the two times the PC was returned to ourselves it performed flawlessly.

While we are very lenient and understanding, I am afraid we will not issue a refund on a product that is fully fit for purpose with no fault found during days of testing on 2 seperate occasions - The PC cannot be classed as unfit for purpose.

Whether it is an incompatability with your router, a setting, security I really am not sure, but i suspect it is more than likely weak signal, I believe I spoke to you and you wanted to buy some range extenders.

We will happily offer furthur support, and aid you in anyway we can, however as a first recommendation I would try and move the router, if at all possible, closer to the PC.

Kind regards

PC Specialist

  iscanut 16:07 22 Dec 2011

Although the wireless connection appeared to be unreliable, did you connect via ethernet cable to see if it connected OK ?

  interzone55 16:42 22 Dec 2011

You need to check the wireless signal from your router.

My home office is less than 25 feet from my router, but due to the construction of my house (thick marine ply walls with fibreglass insulation) the wireless signal is very poor.

If I open the patio doors I can pick up the wireless signal a few hundred feet away.

My solution is to use poweline ethernet adaptors - http://www.maplin.co.uk/networking/powerline-over-the-mains/200mbps-powerline-adaptors-and-kits

  Disappointed_Customer 17:26 22 Dec 2011

Regarding PC Specialist's post earlier, I would like to correct a factual inaccuracy in their statement. Contrary to what they claim, I was told I would get a refund, and I can confirm the exact date and time this phone conversation took place, as well as the name of the person at PC Specialist who promised me that a refund would be issued to my bank account "within four working days" (direct quote). Much of my subsequent anger stemmed from PC Specialist reneging on that promise.

As to the other posters here, I can only report my own experiences - perhaps I've been unlucky, or maybe you were lucky?

Incidentally, I have recently employed an IT expert who made the computer workable by removing the wireless card, blocking up the hole in the back of the tower, uninstalling the software and fitting a Laptone USB adapter instead. The computer now connects wirelessly with no problems, but this took a lot of time and money I shouldn't have had to invest. The problem was never to do with my BT Home Hub or the vagaries of my house - it was entirely down to defective equipment supplied with the tower.

  Ford Prefect 01 19:33 22 Dec 2011

The DSR are your friends!

  Woolwell 10:29 23 Dec 2011

What might have happened is that with the new usb adaptor the aerial is in a better position and not obscured behind the tower.

  PCS.co.uk 10:33 23 Dec 2011


You are 100% correct, otherwise the engineer would have just replaced the internal Wireless card, the external dongles do have a better signal.

Regarding the refund, no decision is ever made untill the PC is back with us, so we can check the state of the PC, such in cases like this where there is no fault.

PC Specialist

  Forum Editor 20:19 23 Dec 2011

It's not the purpose of our forum to provide a platform for an argument between a supplier and a consumer. We're here to offer advise and help to consumers, and although I've always championed the right of a supplier to respond in the forum, there's nothing to be gained from a 'No you didn't/ yes,we did' exchange. None of us is in a position to know whether the information provided by one or the other of the parties is true or otherwise.

Let's look at some facts.

In the past there has been a good deal of debate as to whether consumer legislation regarding refunds can apply to a computer that is built to a customer's specifications. The Office of Fair Trading has issued guidelines however, and has said that as long as a computer is assembled from a list of standard components advertised by the seller it cannot be regarded as 'custom made' by the seller,and refund rights are the same as for a standard, off the shelf item.

That said, you are entitled to request a full refund if your computer is not fit for purpose. Consumer legislation states that if a product develops a fault within the first 6 months from the date of purchase, the assumption will be that the defect was present at the time of purchase and you should get an automatic repair or replacement.

You say that your computer exhibited a fault within a few hours of it being used for the first time, and if that was the case you are entitled to ask the seller to either replace the goods, effect a repair, or provide you with a full refund.

You agreed to a repair, but you say that the computer was returned with the fault still present. The supplier says that when the machine was tested in their premises there was no fault - no repair was necessary,or carried out.

What puzzles me slightly is this statement of yours:-

"At this point, I demanded a refund under the Sale of Goods Act, and was assured by a staff member at PC Specialist that this would be actioned within four working days. Instead, I received an automated message on the appointed day saying the computer had been dispatched to me again."

How could it be dispatched to you again? You made no mention of it being returned for repair a second time. The supplier does, however. From both your statements I assume, therefore, that you sent it back on a second occasion, but that it hadn't been returned when you asked for the refund.

Can you clarify that for me please?

  Input Overload 13:58 26 Dec 2011

The problem with using a wireless connection with a desktop PC is that the case is usually metal & that will do a pretty good job of shielding your wireless adapter from any direction apart from directly behind it. Also the expanse of metal will also absorb & reflect a wireless signal, these issues do not occur with laptops or tablets.

IMHO always use a cable to connect a desktop unless you are on the top of your router & if you are there is no good reason to use it wirelessly.

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