Feeds

PC World found guilty of selling old computers as new

'Shop worn' kit was secondhand

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

PC World's parent company was left red-faced and considering its legal options this week after it was found guilty of mis-selling computer equipment. A Yorkshire court heard how buyers were fooled into thinking that they were getting new computer equipment while they were - in fact - not only getting secondhand kit, and in one case a laptop with a long history of trouble.

The five day-long case, which concluded this week, was brought under the 1968 Trade Descriptions Act. The court heard that on 3 April, 2002 a customer bought a Toshiba 1800-814 laptop from a Yorkshire branch of PC World while another customer bought an Apple 700 CDRW on 31 December the following year from the same out-of-town outlet. Both believed that the equipment was "ex-display" or "otherwise new".

DSG Retail Ltd, which owns PC World, as well as Dixons, Currys, and The Link, explained that the two cases were "honest mistakes" caused by its computer system and individual error. However this brought no favour from the court.

City of York Trading Standards proved the "description" part of the case by producing till receipts from both days. It is understood that investigations into the extent of this practice was responsible for the delay in bringing the cases to court.

Judge John Foster fined DSG Retail Ltd £5,500, awarded its wronged customers £2,184 compensation, and ordered the company to pay the £28,000 prosecution costs. DSG immediately said that it would consider an appeal.

Blatantly wrong

Matthew Boxall, for Trading Standards, said: "These computers were sold on information that was blatantly wrong. The company hadn't done enough to prevent the wrong impression being given - this case shows there are serious consequences.

"The judge has imposed a significant fine, awarded substantial costs and fully compensated the victims. He has made it quite clear that businesses - whatever their size - cannot escape their responsibilities. It's great news for consumers and for those businesses who do all they can to prevent similar problems arising. It shows it pays to get it right."

To make things worse the judge attacked the "due diligence" defence (which could be used to present cases as "honest accidents") and stated that the amount of staff training at the individual PC World store wasn't long enough to prevent such mistakes happening.

In the case of the Toshiba laptop, the customer only found it had been pre-owned when he complained to Toshiba itself about its performance. The model had been owned by a commercial company, but had been returned after various faults had emerged.

PC World said in a statement: "This was an unfortunate case of human error and there was no intent on our part to mislead the customers. We have comprehensive processes in place to ensure that mistakes are not made and during the hearing the judge praised our procedures. We are disappointed with the outcome and we are currently considering an appeal."

Trading Standards is interested in any other customers (irrespective of UK location) who believe they have also received secondhand equipment from PC World (or any other retailer) which was advertised as new. They can be found under Trading Standards in the phone book or via www.bt.com.

The Trading Standards website is here. ®

Related stories

Can compliance-challenged Veritas sell compliance?
HP sues printer-cartridge refillers
Man sues bigger penis pill company

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.