Posted on August 26, 2016

A number of locals have expressed concern that many people take their smartphones, tablets and other smart devices to unauthorised shops for repairs. Those people face potential risks such as misuse of information and data theft, the locals point out.

In a recent report, local Arabic daily Arrayah said that many people go to these shops to get their smart devices fixed as they often find these places more “affordable” than the authorised service centres of manufacturers or dealers. They visit these shops despite having doubts about the quality of work and also being concerned about safety. Speaking to the daily, some of the locals said personal images and data saved on smart devices could be illegally obtained by those working at the unauthorised shops and then used to blackmail customers. 

Such cases have been reported in the past, prompting the authorities concerned to remind citizens and expatriates to be cautious about their personal data while taking their mobile phones for repairs. For instance, around two years ago, the Criminal Investigation Department had arrested some 35 men working in mobile sales and service shops for blackmailing customers, especially women. The accused used to copy private photographs and videos saved on customers’ phones without their knowledge and used the same to blackmail them.

The Arrayah report, meanwhile, observes that there is also the possibility of a victim not reporting an incident to the authorities as the data could be highly sensitive. In such a case, the person concerned has little option but to deal with the culprit on his/her own. Some of the locals pointed out that many shops passed off counterfeit or used parts as original ones, exploiting the customers' lack of knowledge, and sometimes even charged more than the job warranted. Another complaint is that sometimes shopkeepers replace high-quality original parts of smart devices with cheaper counterfeit parts and the customer will not be aware of it. The shops would later sell the original parts to other customers.

Questions have also been raised about the quality of work. "Though the services of these shops are becoming more and more indispensable, you may end up paying more as some repair job may lead to further damage and you will end up going to them again to get the same device fixed," said Hazza al-Othman, a young Qatari man. He, however, acknowledged that going to authorised service centres was a rather costly option in many cases. But another national, Khalifa al-Sulaiti, said he preferred going to the dealer to repair his smart devices because of the guarantee and quality of service offered. The cost may be high but it is a secure process, he felt. 

Meanwhile, Mohamed Emad said the repair of smart devices needed to be further regulated and controlled by the authorities concerned to avoid any potential trouble for customers. Sultan Abdullah noted that customers should carefully weigh the options and consider the risks and possible consequences before deciding on where to get their devices repaired.

source: Gulf Times

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