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Ethics in Computer Repair -onsite home/small business


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7 replies to this topic

#1 subtropical

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 09:31 PM

As someone new to home/small business computer repair I'm asking how you handle things like:

Pirated software. If you help restore or install it.

Stealing wifi. One guy tried to hire me to get back the connection he was stealing from a neighbor.

Then there was the guy I've seen at the local flea market selling bootleg dvd's. He didn't know I knew who he was :thumbsup:

---

What the heck it's money do the job. :inlove:

Just walk away. :trumpet:

Call the cops. :flowers:

Blackmail. :cool:
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#2 Nawtheasta

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 09:47 PM

Well it depends. If you steal a car and then need to get a new radiator the private mechanic is under no obligation to check the title. If he sees the car is hot wired then that would be a different story.
Say you went to someone’s home or office to replace a hard drive. If they hand you a complete image backup on an external HD you should be able to install it without a problem. You’re there as a mechanic, not a lawyer. If you know or it is obvious that you are dealing with pirated software it is a different story.
Each situation is different and we do live in the real world. If a bride gives a DJ a burned CD of her first dance music does he need to prove she had a right to burn it before he plays it? Legally the answer is probably yes but no DJ in his right mind is going to upset a bride on her wedding day. :flowers:
If you are going to be in business you will be better served by being known for having a high standard of Ethics. You don’t want to be known as the guy how will do anything for a buck.

The wireless service creep. Run away ( See ethics comment above)

The yard sale DVD cowboy. Hmmm Well .. if it was your ex-wife’s pre-divorce boyfriend , call the cops.. If he was the guy who stuffed you in a locker at middle school, call the cops. That is unless you can get more satisfaction out of the fact that he is reduced to selling pirated DVDs at a flea market.
Blackmail is too messy and would be a bigger crime.
Walking away is the best answer. It would be just your luck if you reported him that it would turn out that he was trying to raise money for his 7 year olds operation and now dad is in jail and the little one is dieing and guess who’s fault this is.

All the best in your small business venture. I have been self employed for over twenty years. It will be challenging but also very satisfying. :thumbsup:
Best Regards
Nawtheasta

#3 the_patriot11

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 11:42 PM

well naw even if it was a dad trying to raise money for his sons operation and you reported it its still not your fault its still his because he still chose to steal but I agree, walking away is probably the best answer. Personally when I go to do a repair Im not going to demand to see the title, all the license keys and CD cases of any music games, or other software the customer wants backed up-I simply assume theyre legal. If I were to start doin that I would most likely not get any business. On the same point if I can plainly see that hes pirating, or that he wants me to do a job to help him pirate (I.E. wants me to install a bigger hard drive and blue ray burner, and then tells me their to pirate console games) then I would simply say no. I will not knowingly help someone break the law. And even there, a couple songs on their computer probably not-face it all of us have probably pirated music in one form or another at one point in time, whether we did it or not, but I wont help if the person is doing a lot of it or making a profit doing it. Also, about 75% of my virus removals come from people downloading viruses off off pirated software-in that case I simply reformat the hard drive more often then not, and warn them against pirating because there is a lot of viruses and malware that comes with them these days.

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#4 carri

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 08:35 AM

I have to agree 100% with you Patriot. The assumption for me would be that any files being backed up were legal, but if it was clear to me that this person was or would be be pirating or any other obviously illegal stuff, I just would have to say no and warn him that what he was doing/asking me to do was a crime. Probably it might be to the detriment of my business, but I think I would rather be poorer and honest. If I felt that this person was into some criminal activity, I wouldn't think twice about telling the police.

The wifi crook I would say no emphatically and that he should realise he is putting himself and me in an awkward position as I am an honest person, and I would be obliged to let his neighbour and the police know what he had tried to hire me to do!

Same goes for the pirated dvd guy. Pirated dvds are one of my bug-bears; equally, legitimate dvds that are over priced are annoying - I would go to the yard sale and shout 'the police are coming!' Even poverty and terminal illness are no excuse to break the law in my opinion.

I hope you don't come across too many people like the ones you mentioned in your business Subtropical. Best wishes with your business :thumbsup:
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#5 Phillip092

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 02:20 PM

I agree with Nawtheasta, I think if its blatantly obvious, than you should just tell them you cant help them, explain why, and walk away. I don't think its really worth the time and effort to report them, and it may piss them off and cause more problems for you. So for the pirated software, I wouldn't help them install or restore it, but if I suspected it was installed on their computer, I wouldn't sit there and ask them to prove that they bought it. And like Patriot said, if it was just a couple of songs, I would probably just let it go, and inform them of the potential harm that pirating could cause their computer.

The stealing WiFi thing, I would probably do the same thing as the pirated software. Tell them I cant help them, explain why, and walk away. no big deal.

The bootleg DVD's I would not even get involved in, I would just completely ignore the guy, and let it go. Like I said, I dont think reporting this kind of stuff to the authorities is really worth it, I mean just because they may have stopped one person, there are still millions of other people out there doing the same kind of stuff, and they can't catch them all. Right? Blackmail is a whole other issue, I wouldn't get involved in that. I think walking away is probably the easiest solution in all of these cases. Maybe I'm wrong though, I don't really know, I haven't been doing this all that long.

#6 subtropical

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 05:47 PM

Thanks everyone so much.
I guess I'm in the walk away crowd too.

But, at what point do you draw the line?

I bet everyone here has seen this:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=0fb_1266930421

Poor Leo...

Edited by subtropical, 28 February 2010 - 05:54 PM.

:-)

#7 the_patriot11

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 09:48 PM

when its obvious the person is using my help to blatantly break the law. For example, like I said a couple songs? probably not weve all done that, downloaded a CD to your hard drive (which is technically considered pirating even though it never leaves there) but if they say I need dual cat5 jacks and a large hard drive and a blue ray burner so I can download and pirate games for my game console, or they tell me they want me to install a wireless card when its obvious theres no wifi point in the house.

some of it is situational to, for example: I did a job for a friend awhile back, who got a nasty virus, it had deleted the driver for the keyboard and the mouse so I couldnt log on-even under safemode. and thats all it did. I couldnt remove it-without a keyboard and mouse that computer was useless even running kasparsky wouldnt remove it. they asked me to fix their computer, but also admitted to downloading a lot of songs via limewire. In most cases I probably would have turned around and said no, but I know them, and from what I was getting they were clueless about copyright laws-they had no clue it was against the law and ive known them long enough to know they were telling the truth. So I just told them that I needed to reformat the computer. and I could save their pictures off of it, but I could not save any of the music, for 2 reasons. A: it was illegal and B: chances are, thats where they got the virus from and I would just infect the computer again. So I did, I used a Ubuntu Live CD and got their pics and documents off of it, and then reformatted the disc-erased everything, and told them that to avoid that in the future to purchase their music. And some of it was they had itunes and they had bought some songs, but I had no way of verifying which were bought which wernt so they all got deleted. But if it had been someone I didnt know, and they insisted on saving the music, I probably wouldnt have.

I do all my work via personal reference, so its easy to tell the people who are trying to work the system from the people who simply have no clue. If your working with 6 customers a day it may not be so difficult however. The big thing is though if you go througn and be nitpicky over every little thing-you wont get any business at all. Just do your job, do it to the best of your abilities, and if someone wants you to do something to help them do something blatantly illegal, well then say no. If its something like the example I just listed use situational judgement.

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#8 bigalexe

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 12:24 PM

The OP specifically mentioned:
-Stealing Wifi
-Pirated Software

Personally I have no problem dealing with either of these depending on the situation.

I have used neighbors unsecured Wifi while on-site at some homes because I was in the process of fixing the resident's wifi so it was unavailable. As far as I am concerned if the Wifi is UNSECURED then its fair game, however the resident/owner must have said to me that they intend to get their own internet. So I have no problem hooking up someone to a neighbor's wifi signal as long as it is unsecured and is understood to be temporary. I will not however crack passwords/encryption or hook someone onto a neighbors wifi if the solution is stated to be permanent.

Pirated software or movies on a computer I am dealing with is something I don't mess with, in that I don't mention one way or the other. If I believe the software may be causing an issue then yes I will suggest they dump it. However that is no different from legitimate software causing issues which gets the same treatment (I am looking at you! Norton!). I have even loaned a copy of some programs to people I know.

However the computer repair work I do is just for me, paid in cash, and I get suggested by word of mouth. I am not a business and just do some repairs as requested for friends and friends-of-friends to get some extra gas money while I'm in college. I am not certified or even in school for PC Repair, I am just more knowledgeable than many of the people who call me for assistance. Also it really helps that I make house calls and don't charge $65 to show up on your doorstep.

I WOULD however have no problem turning people in for illegal activity I found on their computer, in relation to a non-computer crime.
-Child Porn
-Illegitimate transactions, other records

These are offenses that are concrete and if I found evidence I would finish the repair/service but then contact proper authorities thereafter.
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