Computer repairs took up to a year at Edmonton shop, say frustrated customers

Some customers of Geeks On Whyte Computer Repair are frustrated by lengthy waits to get their laptops back, with one complainant waiting a year for repairs to be completed.

Morgana Folkmann took her MacBook Pro to Geeks On Whyte on Jan. 30, 2017, when her screen wasn’t working properly.

She paid $346.48 for installation of the Apple operating system, a data recovery deposit and a 500-GB hard drive replacement. The quote she was given said it would take three to five days for the work to be completed.

It was a full calendar year before her machine was back in her hands.

Morgana Folkmann took her computer to Geeks On Whyte on Jan. 30, 2017. The computer was repaired and returned a year later. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Folkmann has records of at least eight phone calls she made requesting updates. Those records also include updates she received as the company further diagnosed her computer.

“They were super polite and always said, ‘Yes, of course,’ ” said Folkmann. “I thought if I was polite something would get done, but no.”

At one point, 10 months after dropping off her laptop, Folkmann got a phone call from the company, and was told her logic board needed to be repaired.

The company covered most of the additional repair costs but there was still no firm date for when that work would be completed.

Finally, on Feb 7, 2018, a little over a year after she had initially took the computer in, she was notified her laptop was fixed and ready for pickup.

“There were apologies for how long it took,” said Folkmann. “I didn’t feel that compensated for my loss of time with my computer.”

She’s still frustrated with how long she had to wait to get her laptop, and doesn’t want it to happen again.

“I definitely regret taking my computer to them,” she said.

Another complainant

Jodi Clarke took her 2011 MacBook Pro to Geeks On Whyte on Dec. 15, 2017, after she spilled a beverage on it. She paid $546 up front for “liquid repair” and a RAM upgrade.

Clarke’s laptop was returned to her along with a refund on Thursday, more than four months after she dropped it off and one day after Geeks On Whyte was contacted by CBC News.

Jodi Clarke’s MacBook Pro was returned along with a refund on April 19, a day after CBC News called Geeks On Whyte about her complaints. (Supplied)

Geeks on Whyte management said at one point the repairs done at a lab were completed but Clarke meanwhile asked her computer back without repairs.

“We would of preferred to have taken a loss and given her a working computer, ” the company said in a statement. “Yet she demanded it be returned in its dropped-off state. As such, our contractor had to remove his parts and redo the work in reverse, at a loss to us.”

Clarke said she picked the business because it was a small local shop. While she waited for the repairs to be completed, she became nervous after seeing negative reviews on Yelp.

“I’m not a technical person but I think if you’ve had my computer for four months I think it reflects really poorly on the business,” said Clarke. “I am extremely disappointed. I think that if you own a small business your number one has to be customer service. And I think this business has failed.”

Company response

On Thursday, Geeks on Whyte management emailed a lengthy statement to CBC News.

“We are aware that there have been complaints regarding long repair times,” the statement said. “Many of these longer-than-quoted repair times have been on Apple computers. This has been an issue because these computers require uncommon parts as Apple has designated them ‘vintage.’ We try to purchase parts locally when possible, but as parts are uncommon, many required parts to repair these computers must be ordered from China and are subject to lengthy shipping times.”

Many of these longer than quoted repair times have been on Apple computers.– Geeks On Whyte Computer Repair statement

“For customers that are experiencing longer than acceptable wait times, we try to remain in contact via telephone. We conduct business by telephone, so if there is any confusion or concerns they can be addressed immediately. In addition, we have offered free and discounted work and parts to try and make up for any hardship. This is a good faith gesture on our part to ensure customers are satisfied.”

In cases like Clarke’s where there was liquid damage, the work is done by a contractor outside the city. The company said it is looking for local contractors and suppliers to better meet client’s expectations.

Better Business Bureau complaints

The Better Business Bureau has received four complaints about repair timelines at Geeks On Whyte over the past year. Two complainants later accepted resolutions from the company.

A business bureau media release about computer and electronics repair advised customers to never sign blank contracts, or contracts that leave certain terms blank to be filled in later.

The bureau said a complete contract should address the full extent of obligations and rights of both parties, including a timeline.

Folkmann’s contract came with a two-to five-day timeline. Clarke’s contract included no timeline.

Dana DiTamaso, a tech columnist with CBC’s Edmonton AM, recommended contacting the manufacturer to inquire about computer repairs, especially with Apple products.

“They can either tell you how much it would be for them to fix it or they should be able to point you to reputable repair places that are close to you,” DiTomaso said. “Those places have usually been certified by that manufacturer and they carry authentic parts.”

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