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Stop kicking Me

Legal recourse for botched computer repair? (Canada)

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Posted · Original PosterOP

About two months ago, my computer's motherboard died. I took it in to a repair shop in order to see if it could be saved, but apparently it couldn't be. The guy working there told me that he had a motherboard in stock with the same CPU socket and that he could swap my old motherboard with the new one. I decided to pay for him to swap my motherboard since it wasn't a much higher cost than just buying the board off him, and I figured that getting a professional to do it would be less sketchy than doing it myself.

 

Now, my computer is dead again. What I found when I looked inside my computer case is that the repair shop completely botched the motherboard swap. The RAM sticks were not installed in proper pairs (mismatched speed and capacity), the mounting pressure on the CPU cooler was basically nonexistent and a literal mountain of thermal paste was used. When I removed the CPU, I noticed that There was some green gunk inside the CPU socket itself, and some faint black marks on the CPU contacts where the green gunk was touching it.

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I sent my computer in to my local repair shop for a proper diagnosis. What I think happened is that the guy who did this either spilled some thermal paste into the CPU socket and didn't notice/care, or the excess thermal paste squirted out the sides as he installed the radiator and made its way into the CPU socket. Judging from the greenish tint of the blob, I think that the thermal paste conducted some electricity over time and underwent galvanic corrosion. Although the Arctic Silver thermal paste used was non-conductive, it isn't an electrical insulator either, and does have a very small capacitance, meaning that it can bridge electrical pins if they are very close together (like in a CPU socket).

 

 

I believe that my MSI H170 Gaming m3 motherboard is dead now, and there's a good chance my i7 6700k is also dead. Hoping for some sort of apology, I called the repair shop a few days ago to complain. I told the guy on the phone about all the problems I found, but he was pretty rude about the whole thing. He halfheartedly apologized for the RAM being installed incorrectly, but he insisted that the green blob in the CPU socket was not his fault and that it must have been my fault for not taking proper care of my computer after the repair. After a bit of arguing over that last point, he hung up on me.

 

I would have been ok with a genuine apology, but I didn't get that. I am now seeking the possibility of legal recourse. I won't be jumping the gun and filing any claims without first seeking compensation for damages, but I want as much information as I can get before making that phone call. The main issue is that the repair shop in question is in BC, whereas I'm currently in Nova Scotia for school. I am not sure if it is even possible to take the issue to small claims court if I am not in the same province as the repair shop. I know that I can file a complaint with the BBB, and that I can potentially look into the Civil Resolution Tribunal since I can do that online, but does anyone know of any other means of legal recourse I could use if the repair shop refuses to compensate me for damages?

 

Any extra information and/or advice for what to do in this situation is welcome. There are no lawyers in my town offering free consultations for this kind of issue, so the internet is all I have for advice.

 

Thanks in advance!

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Thats not thermal paste in the socket.  Looks like a ghetto pin repair job using clay to support a broken pin.

 

Anyway, the CPU is likely fine.  Overpasting doesnt kill CPUs.  Crap in the socket doesnt kill CPUs either.

 

My question is, if you had the knowledge to even take the CPU out and examine it, why did you take it to a repair shop for a simple MB swap?  Thats like a 10m job.

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In BC, you have a minimum of one year to initiate a civil lawsuit (typically two years). Frankly, taking them to small claims court is likely going to be your best course for resolution. BBB won't do anything, aside from publish a bad review. They might try and mediate, but they have no teeth (the PC shop can just ignore it if they want).


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Posted · Original PosterOP
2 minutes ago, dalekphalm said:

In BC, you have a minimum of one year to initiate a civil lawsuit (typically two years). Frankly, taking them to small claims court is likely going to be your best course for resolution. BBB won't do anything, aside from publish a bad review. They might try and mediate, but they have no teeth (the PC shop can just ignore it if they want).

The issue with small claims court is that I'm not moving back to BC, so I would not be able to make it to court.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
6 minutes ago, KarathKasun said:

How much did you pay for their services?  Total including parts.

$52.64 CAD for them to test all my parts and make sure the mobo was the only thing broken.
$216.97 CAD for the new motherboard and install.

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17 minutes ago, Stop kicking Me said:

$52.64 CAD for them to test all my parts and make sure the mobo was the only thing broken.
$216.97 CAD for the new motherboard and install.

At this point I wonder if they just MB swapped with a damaged board just to sell the board.

 

This is why I never trust a shop to do any diagnostic, they have motive to just claim things are broken to make money selling something.  Unfortunately, diagnostics are just a tool to fleece the consumer to many repair shops.  I have seen this behavior in everything from GeekSquad to corporate-level IT consultants.

 

The IT consultants thing is first hand experience.  Migrated to new hardware due to EXTREME age of the old hardware at an office, business owner wasnt interested in upgrading the workstations just yet as they were dumb terminals that could be replaced if they died, so we just migrated the server OS as is to a new box.  6 months later a contractor comes in and "upgrades" the server and workstations.  Nearly threw $2000 of server hardware into the trash because it was running Windows Server 2000 and the guy could not be asked to check the hardware specs.  Sold the business a "server" for $2000... with a 1st gen Phenom CPU in it... in 2015.  Contractor then proceeded to take the Server 2012 disk and key with him off site, without anyone's knowledge.  Played dumb when the business owner contacted him about it.  Took threats of legal action over fraud and theft before anything was returned.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
5 minutes ago, KarathKasun said:

At this point I wonder if they just MB swapped with a damaged board just to sell the board.

 

This is why I never trust a shop to do any diagnostic, they have motive to just claim things are broken to make money selling something.  Unfortunately, diagnostics are just a tool to fleece the consumer to many repair shops.  I have seen this behavior in everything from GeekSquad to corporate-level IT consultants.

 

The IT consultants thing is first hand experience.  Migrated to new hardware due to EXTREME age of the old hardware at an office, business owner wasnt interested in upgrading the workstations just yet as they were dumb terminals that could be replaced if they died, so we just migrated the server OS as is to a new box.  6 months later a contractor comes in and "upgrades" the server and workstations.  Nearly threw $2000 of server hardware into the trash because it was running Windows Server 2000 on it and the guy could not be asked to check the actual hardware specs of the server.  Sold the business a "server" for $2000... with a 1st gen Phenom CPU in it... in 2015.

I should have just gotten a new mobo and installed it myself. Sadly, I don't really have a choice other than trusting repair shops when it comes to diagnosing faulty hardware. I don't have an extra working PC I can just swap parts out of to check which work and which don't. 

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4 minutes ago, Stop kicking Me said:

I should have just gotten a new mobo and installed it myself. Sadly, I don't really have a choice other than trusting repair shops when it comes to diagnosing faulty hardware. I don't have an extra working PC I can just swap parts out of to check which work and which don't. 

Microcenter or similar is wonderful for that.  Buy the part see if it fixes the problem, take it back if it doesnt.

 

If you think its not ethical to do that with new parts, specifically do it with open box parts.

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14 hours ago, dalekphalm said:

In BC, you have a minimum of one year to initiate a civil lawsuit (typically two years). Frankly, taking them to small claims court is likely going to be your best course for resolution. BBB won't do anything, aside from publish a bad review. They might try and mediate, but they have no teeth (the PC shop can just ignore it if they want).

If you can’t go back in person, there’s likely nothing that will be done. 

 

So you're never going back fo BC? Not even to visit? Does your family not live in BC?

 

At this point you have two choices:

1. Return to BC and fight it in small claims court on principle

2. Do nothing and eat the loss


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Do you have the official diagnosis back from your local repair shop? If so I would take their analysis and your pictures and approach the company or at the very least slam them where possible. I would start with their google/gmaps.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
18 hours ago, AngryBeaver said:

Do you have the official diagnosis back from your local repair shop? If so I would take their analysis and your pictures and approach the company or at the very least slam them where possible. I would start with their google/gmaps.

I'm hoping to get an official diagnosis back today. I let the shop know that I was planning on using it as proof in a possible small courts claim and I asked them to be extremely detailed if possible with their diagnosis report. I also asked them not to try to fix it (I'll do that myself lmao). I'm informing myself about all the legal procedures surrounding damage claims of this kind in order to use it as leverage when asking for my money back.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I'm looking for advice on something. I'm debating between calling and asking for damage compensation under threat of litigation or going through the CRT first. I'm afraid that going through the CRT may get me ignored, leaving me with no real leverage, but I'm equally worried that a simple phone call would make it look like I'm not really serious. I don't want to come off as just a shitty customer asking for a quick buck.

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2 hours ago, Stop kicking Me said:

I'm looking for advice on something. I'm debating between calling and asking for damage compensation under threat of litigation or going through the CRT first. I'm afraid that going through the CRT may get me ignored, leaving me with no real leverage, but I'm equally worried that a simple phone call would make it look like I'm not really serious. I don't want to come off as just a shitty customer asking for a quick buck.

I would get a copy of the detailed report. I would then break down in detail line for line how they are responsible. After I did all of this I would provide all the documents and receipts to repair the machine making sure to pay myself the same hourly rate they charge.

 

I would then have the letter sent certified mail with a signature or at least a confirmation. Let them know in the letter this is their last chance to resolve this before you take them to court.

 

I would also hit up their google / maps page and leave them a review explaining what you think they did and how they have failed thus far to make it right.

 

If they start losing customers or potential business from it then they might respond pretty quickly to your request.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Repair shop just got back to me.

 

The motherboard definitely needs to be replaced. According to the technician who took a look at my computer, it looks like the green blob is actually a blob of corrosion. He also said that although it is likely that the corrosion was caused by thermal compound getting into the CPU socket, he cannot confirm with 100% certainty that the thermal compound caused the corrosion. What he was able to state with near certainty is that installation error was the cause of the corrosion. Because of that, no reasonable manufacturer would replace the parts under warranty.

 

Additionally, the technician also noticed the black marks where the CPU was in contact with the ball of corrosion. He said that it is likely that some damage was one to the CPU itself, but he did not want to risk a healthy motherboard by testing the CPU.

 

All in all, the repair shop recommends replacing both the CPU and motherboard.

Since I'm now out around $600 CAD, I will definitely be seeking compensation for damages. I will start by sending him an email asking for compensation for the parts that were destroyed by his faulty installation. In that email, I will include that if he refuses to reimburse me or does not respond to my email, I will file an official complaint with the Better Business Bureau and I will initiate a claim with the Civil Resolution Tribunal. Additionally, I will be seeking compensation for all labor costs, including both the installation costs he charged me and the diagnosis costs of the other repair shop, which amounts to approximately an extra $100 CAD. If he refuses to cooperate at that point, I will file an official claim with the BC small claims court. In my claim, I will be citing gross negligence and I will be demanding $1000 CAD for damage to parts, labor costs, and court / court related fees.

 

I will keep this thread updated on further developments. If anyone has any extra advice to offer as to how to make myself more convincing, let me know. Thanks for sticking around guys.

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I used to work for a company that did computer repairs and something like this can happen from time to time. I would hope that to keep the customer happy they would replace the damaged parts since they would most likely be covered since they are in business repairing computers. It would be silly to assume that nothing ever gets botched. I doubt this was an intentional error and they are making sure they check all their basis to make sure its not someone trying to pull a fast one with them. Explain the situation and with all the photos/receipts of the repair and just let them know that you are looking forward and what can be done since the evidence shows that a faulty install could be a leading cause to the issue. This way both parties are not playing the blame game, where it doesn't help either of you get what you want. You want a working computer and they want to make sure you are a happy customer (i can only hope they want happy customers lol). As a ex-computer technician (moved on to more business stuff now lol) I never blamed the customer (even if its their fault) its much better to take the claim on the business end and find a resolution the client would be happy with. Wether that be a new cpu/motherboard or whatever both parties agree upon. 

 

My personal experience is that its much easier to get what you want being understanding that they have to make sure what all happened and that you just want a resolution to this issue. Listen to what they want and if that doesnt satisfy you then play hardball. I do not know what all was said but I know that going in guns blazing saying you will send them to court usually will get undesired results. 

 

Good Luck and I hope you get this all figured out. 

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On 10/1/2019 at 4:32 PM, Stop kicking Me said:

Judging from the greenish tint of the blob, I think that the thermal paste conducted some electricity over time and underwent galvanic corrosion. Although the Arctic Silver thermal paste used was non-conductive, it isn't an electrical insulator either, and does have a very small capacitance

So which Star trek episode are you from?


Sudo make me a sandwich 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
37 minutes ago, GodSeph said:

I used to work for a company that did computer repairs and something like this can happen from time to time. I would hope that to keep the customer happy they would replace the damaged parts since they would most likely be covered since they are in business repairing computers. It would be silly to assume that nothing ever gets botched. I doubt this was an intentional error and they are making sure they check all their basis to make sure its not someone trying to pull a fast one with them. Explain the situation and with all the photos/receipts of the repair and just let them know that you are looking forward and what can be done since the evidence shows that a faulty install could be a leading cause to the issue. This way both parties are not playing the blame game, where it doesn't help either of you get what you want. You want a working computer and they want to make sure you are a happy customer (i can only hope they want happy customers lol). As a ex-computer technician (moved on to more business stuff now lol) I never blamed the customer (even if its their fault) its much better to take the claim on the business end and find a resolution the client would be happy with. Wether that be a new cpu/motherboard or whatever both parties agree upon. 

 

My personal experience is that its much easier to get what you want being understanding that they have to make sure what all happened and that you just want a resolution to this issue. Listen to what they want and if that doesnt satisfy you then play hardball. I do not know what all was said but I know that going in guns blazing saying you will send them to court usually will get undesired results. 

 

Good Luck and I hope you get this all figured out. 

I did call them a few days ago and told them that I noticed the RAM was installed improperly, that too much thermal paste was used, and that there was some green gunk in the CPU socket. I called hoping that they would apologize and be more careful with other people's hardware in the future. Instead, they immediately got aggressive and blamed me for the gunk in the socket and the computer breaking down.

 

The plan atm is most likely to send an email detailing what was done improperly and what is broken. I'm going to be polite and I'll ask that they just reimburse me for the broken parts. I'll let them know that I understand that shit happens, and that I just want a working computer. If they balk at the price of replacing the exact hardware I had, I'll tell them that as long as the performance is equivalent to what I had, I'm ok with getting different parts that cost less. If they keep being as rude as they were on the phone, I'll threaten litigation like I mentioned above.

 

I appreciate the advice and anecdotes. I'll be keeping it in mind :)

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Small claims court is your only recourse.  However for a few hundred dollars a judge may not be too happy for bringing such 'trifle' to court (This does happen).

Your provincial consumer protection legislation may extend your warranty for the initial motherboard death.  You would have to look up what it says. For example here in Saskatchewan, our consumer legislation gives us statutory warranties, and that a good must be of 'reasonable quality' meaning that what it is used for and the price you paid for it should have bearing on how long it should last.

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While I do hope OP gets their problem solves, but there are some things to point out

 

  • System was repaired 2 months ago, by changing to a new motherboard
  • After 2 months system is dead, OP opens it up to take a look inside
  • Noticed 2 unmatched sticks of ram and CPU Cooler mounting pressure is non existent
  • There is a green gunk on the CPU socket
  1. If CPU cooler mounting pressure is non existent, then CPU will rarely even run at stock speeds, where OP can immediately tell something isn't right
  2. If thermal paste was already inside the socket, the system will not boot not matter what, even a tiny microscopic amount of paste on the pin will prevent it from booting. With that said, the system will never leave the shop in the first place, let alone where the OP managed to use it for 2 months
  3. Thermal paste does not turn to liquid and seep into the underside of a CPU and on the socket, it's too viscous for it to do so

Take a pic of your entire build and post it here.


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