Office Depot Caught Selling 'Fixes' for Non-Existent PC Problems

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Office Depot has discontinued a malware-scanning program, which it reportedly used to scam customers out of hundreds of dollars.

The retailer will no longer use PC Health Check following reports that it was recommending costly fixes for non-existent problems. The Seattle-based KIRO 7 news team recently took a pile of brand-new computers to six Office Depot locations around Portland, Ore. Technicians at four shops claimed the PCs showed "symptoms of malware," and offered to sell repair and protection services for up to $180.

KIRO 7 brought the same computers to local security company IOActive, where experts found no malicious software—let alone any symptoms.

"There's no such thing as a malware fairy that stops by in the night and finds computers to infect," Derek Held, IOActive IT specialist, told KIRO.

Sister station FOX25 in Boston recently ran a similar undercover report, bringing three out-of-the-box PCs to Office Max, an Office Depot Inc. affiliate. Techs at two locations suggested signs of "poor performance," recommending a fix between $149 and $199; a third store found no problems.

Office Depot did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment. But the company told FOX25 that it "in no way condones any of the conduct that has been alleged in the reports. We have commenced a full review of the assertions and will take appropriate action. Office Depot is committed to providing the best possible service to our customers, and we are suspending the PC tune-up services throughout our retail chain pending our review."

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell last week requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate Office Depot Inc. for deceptive or unfair marketing practices related to these allegations.

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