Dodgy dealings and deliberate sabotage in the data recovery industry - watch out for the cowboys...
When people have lost crucial data that isn't backed up they usually phone a data recovery company. The problem is, with so many to choose from, which one do you pick? The one that seems the most trustworthy and professional? The one offering the fastest service? The cheapest?
One company (which must of course for legal reasons remain nameless, but we'll call it Dodgy Data Recovery or DDR for short) has been engaging in nefarious practices to entice customers to choose their service by offering data recovery at a low price on a no-fix, no-fee basis. Nothing wrong with that, you might say, a clever strategy in these times of economic downturn. However, data recovery isn't a cheap business; employing specialised technicians and maintaining expensive equipment costs money. So the question is, how do DDR make a profit? Well, when the storage device arrives at the company premises, they will send another, much higher quote to the customer. When the customer queries the price rise DDR will argue that the device has a different fault to the one they originally diagnosed. And what happens to the no-fix, no-fee promise? Well, funnily enough that no longer applies.
So the customer is left with a difficult choice about what to do about the precious data that is now no longer in their possession. Do they accept the higher quote or do they ask for their device to be returned to them while obtaining quotes from other data recovery companies? Let's say they choose the latter. How does DDR respond? They typically have two strategies:
1. Attritional: Avoiding phone/email contact from the customer in the hope that a frustrated customer will eventually acquiesce and accept the new quote, or more worryingly,
2. Machiavellian: Copy the customer's data to their own system and then physically damage the device before returning it to the customer so that no other recovery company can retrieve the data. The customer then has no other choice but to contact DDR again to see if they have a copy of the data.
Sounds far-fetched? We have had several drives sent to us by customers that have previously been to DDR. They have non-accidental scorch marks from a soldering device on the computer chips. Fortunately for the customer we are often able to circumvent the sabotage and retrieve the data.
So what can a potential customer do to avoid this outrageous practice? Obviously you can look at Google reviews in the first instance, but there are also several questions we would advise you to consider when ringing around data recovery companies:
- Do they seem to know what they are talking about?
- How open are they about giving you information? Are they answering all your questions?
- It is often difficult to diagnose a failed device over the phone, so are they telling you all the possible problems that your device may have, and the associated costs of each one?
- Are they willing to give you all the information in an email?
Please choose your data recovery company with care. Let's keep the cowboys at bay...
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