Office Depot Accused Of Pushing Bogus Malware Removal Services On Customers To Meet Sales Quotas
When services are provided for free, it's important to evaluate whether or not there's a major caveat that comes along with it. According to an investigation by CBS News, the free "PC Health" checkup provided by Office Depot carries a big one: you could be encouraged to shell out money to fix a nonexistent problem.
If this sounds like a shady mechanic or cars salesman, it's essentially the same thing. Office Depot is accused of telling customers that there are serious issues on their PCs, such as installed malware, even when that's not the case, and can charge them upwards of $180 for the privilege of "removing" it.
To test the ploy, CBS purchased a handful of computers and brought them into Office Depot for analysis. It even purchased a computer at Office Depot, ultimately bringing it to another store to test the waters. To verify that the systems were in fact clean before they made their way to Office Depot, CBS enlisted the help of security firm IOActive. Will Longman, the firm's VP of IT and Security has said, "We found no symptoms of malware on these computers when we operated them."
The problem with this dishonesty is that it's almost encouraged due to imposed quotas that have to be met. If the quarter is winding down and there are not enough upsells, then this report suggests Office Depot can get a little desperate. Clearly, not all stores are likely to behave like this, and likewise, we're sure that Office Depot is not the only guilty company. It's a real issue, though; one that some people might call an outright scam.
For its part, Office Depot denies that it encourages these practices, and that it's actively looking into the situation. Surprisingly enough, the employee that decided to blow the whistle on these practices still works at one of the Office Depot locations, albeit with reduced hours.