Technology is great. Portable devices such as laptops, tablet PCs and smart phones allow you to access the Internet from almost anywhere. With the advent of MP3 players, music on the go is less cumbersome, and you can listen to a seemingly endless array of tunes during your workout or daily commute. Naturally, these devices will need to be repaired at some point. That’s no surprise. But what may surprise you, and many others, is that sometimes, during the repair process, important or treasured data that you’ve stored on your device could be lost forever.
On Jul. 1, 2011, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) Regulations made it mandatory for repairers to present consumers with repair notices prior to working on the consumers’ devices if
- the items being repaired store user-generated data (songs, documents, photos, etc.) or
- the repairer is in the habit of either using refurbished parts to repair defective devices or replacing defective items with refurbished ones.
It’s always important to back up the data you store on your portable devices — as well as your home desktop computer if you have one. But it’s particularly important to do so before you take your laptop, tablet, MP3 player or smart phone in for repairs.
According to ACCC.gov.au repair notices should look something like the following examples:
“The repair of your goods may result in the loss of any user-generated data. Please ensure that you have made a copy of any data saved on your goods,” or
“During the process of repair, some or all of your stored data may be lost.”
The notice you should receive if the repairer uses refurbished parts for repairs or replaces devices with refurbished ones might look like this:
“Goods presented for repair may be replaced by refurbished goods of the same type rather than being repaired. Refurbished parts may be used to repair the goods.”
Keep in mind that the repair notice you receive from a repairer must be written, not verbal. Even if it must be sent via email or direct mail, the repair notice must be received by the consumer before the repairer can accept it.
Any business that neglects to provide a consumer with a repair notice prior to examining or working on a defective device could be fined as much as $50,000 if the repairer is a corporation or $10,000 if the repairer is an individual.
Although it’s important for people to get in the habit of backing up the data on their portable devices on an external hard drive, thumb drive, disk or in the cloud, it’s also important for consumers to be informed. Since July 2011, the Australian government has made it mandatory for repair shops to let consumers know that they run the risk of losing important or valued information when they bring portable devices in to be fixed.
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