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Tax-Free IT Repairs Proposed For the UK 102

Posted by timothy
from the financial-lubrication dept.
judgecorp writes "Removing tax from computer repairs could have a real impact on the IT industry's carbon footprint, according to a petition of the UK government. Old computer equipment often ends up in landfill, or in toxic illegal re-cycling centers in developing countries, because users think it is not cost-effective to repair it. Making repairs tax free could be a simple bit of financial engineering to encourage skilled jobs and keep electronics out of the waste stream, says the author of the campaign."
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Tax-Free IT Repairs Proposed For the UK

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  • Oh how this could be abused to include TVs and VCRs and the whatnot. Abused in a good way that is.
    • Re:Abused (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:23AM (#31581396) Homepage

      Retailers abuse the Sales of Goods Act. Products should be made to last a reasonable amount of time, retailers are responsible for 6 years.

      Apple were happy to fix my 3 and a half year old iMac for free, Sony fixed my two year old (had a 1 year guarantee) monitor for free. Well, the guys at PC World refused to accept responsibility for a failed motherboard on a 1 year and 1 month old laptop, and wanted to charge me more than I paid for the machine when new just to repair it. Trading Standards told me to go back with a copy of the Sales of Goods Act, PC World promptly fixed it for free. Retailers need to understand this is an unreasonable time for a computer to fail and should repair it, even if out of guarantee, for free.

      There should be no reason for tax free repair IMHO. If a machine fails in an unreasonable time, the retailer should fix it. If it is an old machine, the IT company should write it off for tax purposes anyway.

      • Re:Abused (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @08:01AM (#31581616) Journal
        The trouble occurs specifically in the PC context. A substantial percentage of PCs that are "broken" are physically perfect in every way, except for a touch of dust and the fact that the magnetic fields on their HDD platters include 3,624 assorted viruses, trojans, pop-up spawners, and the like, along with the OS and user data.

        Even if untaxed(as, de facto, a lot of this stuff is, because they end up paying someone's nephew who "knows computers" in cash under the table to fix the problem) cleaning these systems up can eat a lot of tech time. The user never has their restore media, and they always have some programs that they've either lost the CDs for, lost the licence keys for, or "got from work", so you can't just wipe and go, done in 30 minutes. And, of course, no backups.

        It is at this point where you say(I've been the "someones nephew who 'knows computers"), "Ok, look: There is nothing wrong with your computer besides software. However, you don't have any of the disks you need, and properly disinfecting your machine will take hours and hours(even if you know what you are doing, and don't fuck around, there'll be so much malware doing disk access by the time they call you that even a basic scan will take ages to complete). I can either do that, and bill you for my time, at a very reasonable rate; but some hours of it, or we can just give Dell $300 and you'll have a computer that is faster and shinier than your present one, and running perfectly, and I'll copy over your documents when it comes. Since you got that copy of Office "from a friend", we'll throw in an extra $50 to have Dell install the OEM version."

        And lo, a new computer is ordered.
        • Re:Abused (Score:5, Interesting)

          by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @08:23AM (#31581748) Journal
          Incidentally, if you really want to reduce the number of computers that get tossed due to the above, there are two things that the market needs:

          1. More or less idiot-proof backups that occur by default.

          2. The requirement that a restore .iso be one of the offerings on the OEM's driver support page for the models they sell/have sold.

          Unfortunately, there is no particularly good way to ensure that these conditions exist. #1 would increase(substantially in the case of cheap systems) the base cost of a computer(either up front, as with a time capsule/Windows Home Server thrown in, or over time, as with a Mozy/Carbonite subscription). Plus, if it is bundled by default, people with multiple computers will end up buying way more backup than they need. If it isn't bundled by default, the people who need backups but don't know it yet will just buy the cheaper thing and skip the backup, then cry later. #2 would increase the OEM's bandwidth costs and, rather more serious, probably make MS a sad panda(which would be silly; because pirates can already get stock Windows Whatever Ultimate .isos, and have no interest in OEM restore crap; but they would object anyway).

          I see no good way to make these things happen; but they would turn the hours-long slog of cleaning a machine with a borked OS into a "20 minutes of minimally skilled tech time, couple of unattended hours while the backups restore" process, which would make holding on to the hardware much more attractive.
          • Re:Abused (Score:4, Insightful)

            by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @08:36AM (#31581906) Journal

            >>>2. The requirement that a restore .iso be one of the offerings on the OEM's driver support page for the models they sell/have sold.

            The HP desktop I bought for my brother doesn't even come with a restore disc. How stupid is that? They tell you to "burn your own restore CD" which sounds good in principle, but I've seen burned-CDs lose their dye (fade) and self-erase. This is not a solution.

            The other option is to buy the CD for about $20. Lame. When you buy a computer, I don't think it would kill HP to include a 25 cent disc with Win7 on it so you can do annual "restore computer to like new" maintenance.

        • Re:Abused (Score:4, Insightful)

          by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @08:31AM (#31581850) Journal

          >>>just give Dell $300 and you'll have a computer that is faster and shinier than your present one

          Precisely. The article summary about tax-free repairs making people more likely to fix their machines still ignores the basics of the computer industry - technology moves fast. I have a good reliable industry-grade laptop that I considered upgrading to Windows 7. And then I thought, "Why? For the cost of Win7 plus an extra $100 I can get a Win7 for free on a shiny new laptop with twice the speed, double the processors, and 3-4 times as much memory."

          It makes little sense to upgrade or repair computers, unless you're a museum or nostalgist. It makes more sense to sell the old one on Ebay for ~$100 and then apply that cash to getting the current model.

          • by JustNilt (984644)

            That's exactly what I did to bump up to Windows 7. I picked up a nice i7 8 core system with Win7 for a song. I then sold the existing one (Core2Duo) to someone else. I actually ended up with about $20 left over after the deal was done; how can you argue? The value of all these "dead" virus infected rigs is incredible. Once Window sis reinstalled, even a 3 year old system can get $200 cash and still performs well for all basic needs.

            I've often thought that instead of paying to have then "recycled" govern

          • by Kitkoan (1719118)

            Precisely. The article summary about tax-free repairs making people more likely to fix their machines still ignores the basics of the computer industry - technology moves fast.

            The computer industry moves fast, but that doesn't mean everyone wants to hit the gas pedal. This has been shown with netbooks since netbooks aren't the fastest machines. More and more people are finding out they don't need the fastest computers on the block when their current one is more then capable of surfing the web, playing a few movie clips, checking Facebook and playing some Facebook game. And I've noticed that most people that state their computer is either not fast enough or must have a 'virus' rea

      • by 91degrees (207121)
        What? The crappy 99p headphones I bought at the 99p shop are expected to last 6 years?

        SOGA doesn't specify a time. The 6 year period is an absolute maximum based on the Limitation Act.

        Items are expected to last a reasonable amount of time. If you can demonstrate the product was faulty when purchased, then you can expect it to be put right after that time but you don't get an automatic 6 year guarantee.
        • by digitig (1056110)
          There is a time specified [consumerdirect.gov.uk], but it's not that one. If you return the goods within 6 months, the onus is on the trader to show that the goods were not defective at the time of purchase. If you return them after six months then the onus is on you to show that they were.
        • by James Durie (1426)

          You are correct that it states "a reasonable amount of time" and the interpretation of a reasonable amount of time is left up to the interested parties to decide.
          The argument that PC hardware is reasonably expected to last a minimum of 3 years is easy to establish however as that is the time period that all companies I have ever worked at have used as the depreciation period.

          I would say it is reasonable to expect things like Televisions, Washing Machines, Dishwashers etc to last a minimum of 5 years.

          • by delinear (991444)
            What would be interesting is if manufacturers were required by law to specify what they considered to be a reasonable lifespan for their products. I wonder how many would claim that just over a year is the natural point for their device to break if that information was available to consumers. Claim too short a time and your customers will flock elsewhere or demand lower prices, too long a time and you'll be eating up the support costs unless you make sure your quality is unquestionable. I like a law with a
      • by Caged (24585)

        Then you should go talk to the manufacturer which only guarantees' the laptop for 12 months. Since you've just forced the retailer to eat $200-$300 on what was most likely only a $800 laptop and the sale came with a net profit of something like $100. Retailer doesn't make the unit, only sells them. Manufacturer would have charged easily 200-300 for the board, and if PC World has an in-store technical bay, a good hours' labour probably went into swapping it over.

        Referring to your earlier example of your iMac

        • >>> Since you've just forced the retailer to eat $200-$300

          Not really. The retailer likely sends all failed laptops and computers (in bulk) back to the manufacturer. It's called a chargeback. So the retailer would only lose the $3 for halfhour of labor to pay an employee to fill-out the paperwork, pack the item, plus maybe $5 for shipping costs.

          Retailers aren't dumb. They know how to work the system just as well as the customers do.

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        If it is an old machine, the IT company should write it off for tax purposes anyway.

        I presume that's what TFS is referring to by "Old computer equipment often ends up in landfill, or in toxic illegal re-cycling centers in developing countries, because users think it is not cost-effective to repair it."

        Same applies for personal use too - I can see it being wasteful to ditch a whole working computer when it's only one component that needs failing, but most people don't have the knowledge or time to figure it

        • by delinear (991444)
          I wonder if a better system would be something similar to the car scrappage scheme - take your old system in and you get a discount off the new system (or avoid tax on it or something) with the added bonus that if the equipment is repairable it could be used for good causes, going to schools or projects in poorer countries or local charities in need of IT or something. I guess the problem is this stimulates cash out of the system as most electronics manufaturers are oversees, but if you put more money in th
      • by Xest (935314)

        "Retailers abuse the Sales of Goods Act. Products should be made to last a reasonable amount of time, retailers are responsible for 6 years."

        That's not quite true, they're responsible for 6 months with the burden of proof being on them to demonstrate it's not a warranty repair if they try and choose to do so, and after that for the reasonable lifetime of the product, it is up to you to prove it did not fail because of anything other than normal use.

        You're right in that for many pieces of equipment 6 years w

    • New technology is typically smaller, faster, and requires less energy than older technology. The faster we can replace the old stuff, the better.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by RulerOf (975607)

        The faster we can replace the old stuff, the better.

        That's true, but for the foreseeable future, it's still a cycle. I think the point here is: The less frequently we replace the old stuff, the better.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I don't see that it's a big deal.

          Like old cars the old computers get passed down to the lower income brackets (or people like me who don't mind using a 600 megahertz machine). It's recycling. It's also providing an opportunity for people to get on the internet who otherwise would be too poor to afford a $330 unit.

          • by RulerOf (975607)

            I don't see that it's a big deal.

            Like old cars the old computers get passed down to the lower income brackets

            While I share your idea of turning old machines into miniature philanthropic endeavors, that's not what's being referred to here. I read a very eye opening National Geographic article about a year ago on this.

            "Tech junk" frequently wanders its way through dozens of hands until it finally leaves the borders of the US or Europe, and then eventually ends up dumped, for very small sums of money, into the hands of third world nations. Once there, local people take the tech junk and "refine" it for salvageable

            • And your solution is take this "strip computer carcasses" Job away from them, so they'll have no income and starve?

              • by RulerOf (975607)
                Yes.

                Hunger is a more directly solvable issue, and is much cheaper to treat than cancer.

                Please quit being an asshole.
                • by theaveng (1243528)

                  The insult wasn't necessary. We're not college kids anymore.

                  And you're right that hunger is easier-to-solve than cancer, but that presumes that the U.S. has authority (or money) to enter a foreign country and feed the starving. It has neither. So by shutting-down those overseas recyling jobs in poor countries, you essentially leave the person with nothing.

    • I think you need a different word. Extended perhaps.
  • by jawtheshark (198669) * <slashdot&jawtheshark,com> on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:10AM (#31581330) Homepage Journal

    Look, I'm an avid dumpster diver and the only reason I do it, is because I get gear for free and it's fun. However, if you calculate in my time? No, not economic. That 2400+ Athlon XP with 1GB RAM I gave to a coworkers daughter? Cleaning it, assembling good parts from different cadavers, installing Ubuntu and "ready" it for normal usage[1]... This took hours... At my "work" rate, this computer is more expensive than a mid-range new machine which includes real warranty. Now, I *like* doing this and I don't ask a dime if I give away "recovered" machines, but this is in no way economical in the real sense of the word.

    Also, if they just talk about "replacing" parts... That's good for RAM or a power supply. Still, you need some time to diagnose the problem which easily exceeds the cost of the parts. Heck if the hard disk fails, you're in a whole crapload of trouble. You lost your OS, your data and most likely the recovery partitions. You ain't getting a working system quickly that way. A dead harddisk is economically the same as a "total loss" for a computer, if you consider the working hours needed to repair it. With cheap netbook and nettop machines, which are most likely better than your older system (even though the Atom is really a weak chip as I can tell from my own experience), comparatively repairs are expensive.

    [1] Make sure all media plays, make sure Flash works, make sure Java works, make sure that OpenOffice saves to .doc, .xls etc by default so she doesn't get into confusing problems when she starts to share school works, etc, etc, etc...

    • so you're the one finding all those confidential documents on discarded government PCs !

      • LOL... I once found a computer that was clearly previously owned by a lawyer. I noticed, and formatted the disk. I also met my doctor once at the recycling centre. He was ditching a perfectly functional AMD64. I showed my interest and he gave it to me. First thing I did when coming home was wiping the disk. I don't know what was on it, nor do I want to know.

        The few times I had computers from unknown origin at which I actually looked at the content of the disk, it was usually pirated movies, personal d

        • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @08:28AM (#31581810)

          The few times I had computers from unknown origin at which I actually looked at the content of the disk, it was usually pirated movies, personal documents like letters and recipes

          pirated software, homework essays/term papers, music, and possibly homemade pr0n

          The "elite" types like to think only other "elite" types have access to pirated s/w, but trust me, from researching the contents of "goodwill harddrives" the unwashed masses somehow have access to virtually every warez we have. Also the same people that claim they can't be bothered to figure out how to change their background picture and could we do it for them, seem to easily have the motivation and technical ability to install warez. I think feigned ignorance is more a matter of pride, at least for the average loser, so I don't feel so bad about carefully structuring so I can't / won't help. It never fails that the village idiot, despite proudly stating he knows nothing about computers, somehow has the worlds most complicated cracked warez installed and working. WTF?

          Homework is uniformly bad. Not only is grade inflation increasing over the decades, but writing ability seems to be plummeting at the same time. So, what was a good "C" is now an "A" from the bell curve declining pushing it to a "B" and then some inflation pushing it to the "A". It is true that there are very few misspelled words, and the gross grammatical errors that word can find are fixed, but the essays are usually filled with homonym substitution and terrible paragraph construction. Most people are, for all intents and purposes, illiterate, and can't write because they have no experience of reading good writing. I read it for the LOLs.

          The music I find is usually pretty interesting. I'll listen at least once. Rarely is it stuff I actually want to keep, but its interesting to hear one time. I've noticed that on average the great unwashed seem to be moving away from discographies and albums. You'll just find that "one good song" from a musician. Much more like a "stream ripper listening to commercial FM radio" than the traditional computer dude attitude of mirroring a complete directory because its no harder than copying a single file.

          As for the Pr0n its surprisingly hard to tell if they just downloaded a collection of one person or if it was genuinely homemade. Unlike home decorating, most people have good taste in Pr0n selection so you can't strictly go on subject matter. If they're chubby its homemade as "most americans are now fat". Also homemade stuff has ridiculous hoarded junk in the background or terrible lighting, that no pro photographer would put up with. Also the homemade stuff has bad hair/makeup. Other than that, its difficult to tell... needs more research, much more.

          Anyway, thats what I find on hard drives, rarely this "movies, letters and recipe" stuff you refer to.

          I don't have the patience to wait for a borked OS to load (if it ever loads).

          External USB hard drive enclosure. Plugged into a machine not running that O/S to prevent any contagion. Stereotypical windoze drive, in a $25 USB external enclosure, plugged into a Linux box. No problemo.

          • pirated software, homework essays/term papers, music, and possibly homemade pr0n

            We're talking a bit alongs each other. I wasn't listing exhaustively what I found. My "letters and recipes" includes homework, essay, and term papers. I really meant "self-written stuff by the user", perhaps I should have said "letters, recipes and similar".

            I agree with the Warez. Completely forgot how many Warez are to be found there.

            My "pirated videos" implicity included "music". I should have said "pirated media".

            I never

            • by vlm (69642)

              Basically we talked about the same crap, but I wasn't exhaustive enough to your tastes.

              Its a "UK" article, so I figured most of the people posting would be UK folks, in which case I was hoping we discovered some cultural differences or something. But, I guess people are pretty much the same everywhere, to a first approximation...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by barista (587936)
      The problem I see is "software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster." Try telling people with a P4 why they can't have Windows 7 running Aero and Facebook and Word and Outlook and 'The Twitter' and Yahoo and eBay and MTV and iTunes and antivirus and ZoneAlarm and Bejeweled and... and... they just won't understand. For every program that's running, it causes all the other programs to run a little slower. They'll insist they need to have all those programs running at the same time, yet they'll also co
      • The use case you give, will work very fine if you make sure said P-IV has 1GB RAM and run XP together with for example Office 2003. (Or OpenOffice 3.x for the matter!)

        Three years ago, I ran a P-III 600MHz laptop with 512Meg RAM, using Windows XP Pro SP2, AVG Free, iTunes, Thunderbird, Firefox and OpenOffice *at* *the* *same* time. Yes, starting up the programs was a bit of waiting but once in memory, there was no problem. Windows XP runs typically uses around 200Meg RAM with all drivers and an AV instal

      • >>>Try telling people with a P4 why they can't have Windows 7 running [13+ programs]

        I have a P4. You can do all that if you eliminate the hard drive thrashing (the true cause of slowdown) by upgrading from the standard 512 to ~5,000 megabytes of RAM. Not cost effective but possible. And it will run just fine.

        • by Glonoinha (587375)

          Windows XP doesn't use anything beyond 4G (4096MB)
          Also it needs to stuff the video memory overlay (and a few other memory overlays that I don't remember at this time) somewhere in there so if the video card has 256M on it, it reduces the memory available to the OS by 256M.

          That said, 3.5G or thereabouts is -plenty- of memory for XP on a home user's box.

          I focused on XP because that's the most widely used OS for machines in the P4 range over the past decade.

    • I agree with what your basic points, but the final cost using your rate isn't the same as what it would cost for someone else to do it. Here in California, for example, there's plenty of companies that make their money re-selling old computers on eBay. Walk into a typical operation and you'll see a large warehouse with pallets upon pallets of computers and peripherals, and a few guys doing repairs. Picture a Mexican labourer doing things like POST tests and swapping RAM and used hard drives, and you'll g

      • Walk into a typical operation and you'll see a large warehouse with pallets upon pallets of computers and peripherals, and a few guys doing repairs. Picture a Mexican labourer doing things like POST tests and swapping RAM and used hard drives, and you'll get the picture.

        The difference here is scale... The way I interpreted the article, it is the customer who goes to a repair shop to let fix the computer. There won't be piles and piles of computers being able to supply work to the few "Mexican" workers. (

    • Netbook, 300 euro's new. Broke the screen. Official repair costs, 300 euro's. Did it myself by getting a screen from ebay for 30, 15 minutes labor. So that would be what 50 euro and you have kept a netbook alive for a 1-2 more years at least.

      But I don't think just cutting taxes is going to do it. The whole repair sector is far to expensive. You would need laws that allow repair centers to operate near cost, not at "lets charge them so much that nobody is going to repair".

      • I see what you're trying to do there.

        First you get it from eBay, probably second hand. If you go to a repair shop, it won't be and you pay new... If they have second hand stuff, it's unlikely the part you need will be there unless it's very generic. Those 30€ ain't going to cut it in the "normal user goes to repair shop" case. Let's be nice and count "only" 50€ for the part. For a new LCD screen very unlikely.

        Second, you did that yourself... You have the skills to do so and you estimate the

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by khallow (566160)

      Cleaning it, assembling good parts from different cadavers, installing Ubuntu and "ready" it for normal usage[1]... This took hours... At my "work" rate, this computer is more expensive than a mid-range new machine which includes real warranty. Now, I *like* doing this and I don't ask a dime if I give away "recovered" machines, but this is in no way economical in the real sense of the word.

      Two things. First, it might be economic for someone with a lot lower work rate. Second, would you have worked longer and gotten paid more, if it wasn't for the computers you were putting together? Work rate doesn't count, if you weren't going to work anyway.

      • First, it might be economic for someone with a lot lower work rate.

        True...

        if it wasn't for the computers you were putting together? Work rate doesn't count, if you weren't going to work anyway.

        Hey, it was in my spare time. Of course I wasn't going to work. I said I did it for fun. I wouldn't ever charge anyone anything close to my hourly rate for computer repairs. That's insane and unfair.

        That said, saying that my spare time isn't worth my working rate is completely dependent on your view of life. I

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by khallow (566160)
          There are multiple views of what things are worth. My view though is that we find out what things are worth by looking at what choices people make. For example, if you decide to work a little late one day, then you've made a decision that a little more work was worth more than a little more time doing something else (leisure, sleep, etc, whatever got cut to make room). These things are, of course, non-linear. Loosing half an hour of leisure in a week time is not 1/80th the value of losing 40 hours of leisur
          • Damnit, did I really need to fall on the only sociology geek on slashdot? ;-P Just kidding, your post is Insightful and I agree. :-)
    • by Kitkoan (1719118)

      Look, I'm an avid dumpster diver and the only reason I do it, is because I get gear for free and it's fun. However, if you calculate in my time? No, not economic. That 2400+ Athlon XP with 1GB RAM I gave to a coworkers daughter? Cleaning it, assembling good parts from different cadavers, installing Ubuntu and "ready" it for normal usage[1]... This took hours... At my "work" rate, this computer is more expensive than a mid-range new machine which includes real warranty. Now, I *like* doing this and I don't ask a dime if I give away "recovered" machines, but this is in no way economical in the real sense of the word.

      Also, if they just talk about "replacing" parts... That's good for RAM or a power supply. Still, you need some time to diagnose the problem which easily exceeds the cost of the parts. Heck if the hard disk fails, you're in a whole crapload of trouble. You lost your OS, your data and most likely the recovery partitions. You ain't getting a working system quickly that way. A dead harddisk is economically the same as a "total loss" for a computer, if you consider the working hours needed to repair it. With cheap netbook and nettop machines, which are most likely better than your older system (even though the Atom is really a weak chip as I can tell from my own experience), comparatively repairs are expensive.

      [1] Make sure all media plays, make sure Flash works, make sure Java works, make sure that OpenOffice saves to .doc, .xls etc by default so she doesn't get into confusing problems when she starts to share school works, etc, etc, etc...

      The cost in building the machine isn't economical as you've pointed out, but what about the learning you get from it? Doing this gives you in some respects the ultimate 'test lab' of parts that didn't cost out of pocket money that you can use to build computers, and you can pull apart and rebuild computers from scratch and have a LOT of experience doing it and no doubt feel very comfortable doing it. This is where you stand over many computer users/geeks. This would also make you quite resourceful and capab

    • by sjames (1099)

      Dumpster diving is one thing, but what about an otherwise decent desktop machine with bad RAM before it goes to the dumpster. It just doesn't take all that long to swap a few sticks and put it back in service. Installing Linux takes a little while, but most of that time is unattended (you should be doing something else during that part, not charging work rates to sit and watch).

      Sure, it's not worth it except as a hobby if you're grabbing a CPU here, case there, etc etc, but that's not what they're talking a

  • The EU VAT rules AFAIK are going to nobble attempts to lower existing VAT rates for a good or service (never mind the Treasury hanging grimly on to every penny at the moment), otherwise, way ahead of this is the queue is fixing the egregious higher VAT rates on building repairs than new build.

    Rgds

    Damon

  • Sorry but (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Datamonstar (845886) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:13AM (#31581342)
    I don't think so. The reason people don't get their PCs serviced when they get infested with cybervermin is that they see the overall cost as too high an investment when they could just go buy a new system that will work 100% guaranteed as opposed to playing whack-a-mole with screwy software. Unless they're in the know that a wipe and reinstall can re-create that like new PC experience pain-free, then people will most likely always go for something new as opposed to shelling out more and more to fix their old systems. A tax break isn't going to change that.
    • by Krneki (1192201)
      It's the same story with used cars. At the first sign of a problem they want to buy a new one.
    • My rough rule of thumb is that every hour the average Joe out there spends paying someone to fix their computer is roughly equivalent to one year of computer life. Unless the work involves data that you can't replace, it's typically not worth it if your system is more than a few years old.

      It's sad, but the days of spending $3000 just to get a half-decent desktop system are over. Wipe your data (or destroy the hard drive) and throw it in the recycle bin. Your money is better spent upgrading and buying you

    • by Caged (24585)

      I agree, having a tax break on repairing old PC's wont make one iota of difference when the labour incurred in performing even the standard virus removal/updates/windows repair totals about a quarter the cost of a new netbook or atom-based brand name PC.

      In my experience I would say in 70% of cases if a major hardware component for a job >2years old - eg mainboard - then its' a total loss leaving the technical bay with a dead PC that will never be claimed (a nominal fee owing for inspecting the machine) b

  • If you search the Number 10 website for 'Repair' [number10.gov.uk], it does not show up (prove me wrong, someone!)

  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:26AM (#31581416)

    In this context, "Proposed" means someone's set up an online petition to ask the government to do something.

    Seeing as there's a government-sponsored website where you can set up petitions asking for literally anything, this doesn't really mean a great deal. Some petitions which have been submitted include:

    Force TV newsreaders to wear their underpants on their head. [number10.gov.uk]

    Stop treating Charles Darwin with any form of respect [number10.gov.uk]

    Introduce suitability tests for all supporters of Tottenham Hotspur who want to work with children [number10.gov.uk]

    • Force TV newsreaders to wear their underpants on their head.

      The best part was the rationale for rejecting this petition:

      It was outside the remit or powers of the Prime Minister and Government

      But if it wasn't!..

    • Oh don't you have to simply love those guys from that island...

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      In all fairness to the second proposal, Darwin has never shown *me* any form of respect--so why should I reciprocate? Of course he has been dead for some time, but a lot of people use that excuse then, don't they?
  • Does this include scams like PC world's "IT Repair" or "Tune up" service's which costs 15 GBP a month and is basically a virus scan?

  • by RMH101 (636144) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:55AM (#31581592)
    Why not apply it to cars, too? Removing tax from car repairs would make a big difference to the environment (less new cars wasting resources, older cars kept in good condition and polluting less, less stuff going to landfill) and also encourage skilled workers.
    Oh wait. Last year the UK government brought in the scrappage scheme that incentivised you to scrap your car for up to £2000 off the price of a brand new one, which has led to a huge number of perfectly adequate, working and environmental-impact-ammortised cars getting crushed, and loads of energy wasted in building, shipping and selling new cars - on the grounds that it'd help the economy.
    • we have the same thing in holland, and it disgusts me..

      The first car to use this subsidy was a 12 year old honda civic, the kind that would have been PERFECT for a single mom / low wage family / recent graduate to drive for years without high costs. I wept inside when i read that news headline, that car could have lived on for a decade fullfilling its purpose, and providing less wealthy people with a good means of transport. Instead it was taken to the crusher.. The stupidity of that case also was, that the

      • by RMH101 (636144)
        I'm a bit of an enthusiast of the Mazda MX5/Eunos/Miata. We've lost loads of future little classics due to the scrappage scheme - perfectly functional cars in excellent condition that went to the crusher so that someone could get a discount they could have negotiated themselves off the price of some new car...
        • i feel your pain, i myself am an Alfa Romeo nut, and i just feel bad when i think of how many perfectly good and future classic Alfa's will be lost to the crusher in these schemes...

          I have a company car as a daily driver, but i also have an old alfa to tinker with, and i will undoubtedly replace it at some point with another model, however, the cars i tend to want to tinker with are also rather likely to get scrapped this way..

          luckily alfisti tend to take good care of their stuff, and most will actually tak

      • Where are my modpoints when I need them? When I was in last year of University, I bought an 11 year old Audi 80. One of the best cars I ever had, reliable and no expensive repairs.

        My current car is 10 years old (bought new 02/2000) and I'm not planning to replace it. I estimate it to be worth around 5000€, given it cost 35000€ new. Sacrifying it to any of the programs would be perfectly wasteful.

        Checking on a second-hand car website (AutoScout24), typical asking price seems to be between 10000

  • I decided to buy an old refurbished server last month, except the RAM I needed is so rare now it costs 4 times as much as the server. If I wanted to fit a graphics card, I'd have to pay over-the-odds to get one suitable. People replace old PC's when they break because new ones are cheaper and faster.
    • by Peet42 (904274)

      Indeed. When you have a 4-year old machine with a dead IDE hard drive and you try to get a replacement you end up buying another potentially faulty used drive on eBay because the only drives anybody has in stock new are SATA. It takes a lot of time and money for little confidence in the final repair.

      The computer industry has a vested interest in continually-changing "standards" which make it less attractive to repair machines and more attractive to buy a replacement.

      • Big UK suppliers (VIP Computers, Ingram Micro) still stock PATA HDD's.

        • by Peet42 (904274)

          They all use the same "just in time" warehouses, so when one is out of stock they all are. Last time I needed a PATA IDE drive everybody had the same "Delivery in 3-5 weeks" estimate.

          • I used to work for SCAN [scan.co.uk] and they have an enormous warehouse and don't sell JIT. I still buy from them because I live within a 15 minute drive, they sell things cheap, and I know the owner.

            They stock PATA drives up to 500MB ; the prices for the capacities are a joke compared to modern drives but they are available.

      • I'm in that situation, want a newer larger drive, but am still on pata/ide. I found they have an adapter for under ten bucks you can get for that purpose, so you can run newer hard drives or optical drives. Just run this in the search box at amazon "pata to sata adapter".

        heh, I pretty much stay on the raw bleeding edge of five year old tech, or even older. Much cheaper that way, still usable with a few minor things. The biggest "must have" aspect I have found is having enough RAM when running modern softwar

      • SATA PCI cards are readily available and not expensive. Just saying... Bought two of them in the supermarket recently.
        • by Peet42 (904274)

          The last time I had this problem it was actually cheaper to get a secondhand motherboard with a SATA interface and swap that out before fitting a SATA drive. (The motherboard only cost me £10, and it took the same processor and memory...)

      • it is 2010, my old athlon XP i bought in 2003 already has two sata ports, my GFs old Pentium 4 has SATA hard drives. I switched to only getting Sata drives in 2005. I really am curious where you found a 2006 machine with NO sata port...

        besides, my fav computershop (actual shop with their own stock), lists 4 different IDE drives on their shelves (and in stock currently, the fifth type isnt), ranging from 80 to 320 GB.

        Ram and VGA cards tend to be a bit more difficult, but if you dont mind paying a bit more pe

        • by Peet42 (904274)

          "I really am curious where you found a 2006 machine with NO sata port..."

          I didn't "find" it, it was brought to me to fix. Presumably because nobody else was willing to look at it. (Actually, as it was the end of last year, technically it was a 2005 machine.,.)

          Even in 2006 it cost extra to buy a motherboard with dual interfaces. The guy who built this machine used the cheapest parts available at the time.

          • hmm, i see, i suppose it would be possible to build a machine in 2005 with no sata, if you went for the cheapest available parts. Stupid practice though.. even when building to a tight budget, i will trade 100 mhz cpu speed for getting at least a half decent mobo. speed doesnt mean anything if the caps blow up in a year..

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jawtheshark (198669) *

      the RAM I needed is so rare now it costs 4 times as much as the server.

      Have you tried Kahlon [kahlon.com]? (Not affiliated, just a happy customer) A few years ago I had a multiprocessor system that required Registred ECC RAM. It could hold a total of 4GB RAM, but only had 1GB. When I wanted to upgrade the system to 4GB (so I needed 3x1GB), the stores in Europe asked around 300€ per stick. At Kahlon, I got three sticks of that price even after the horribly high import taxes. Now, I just checked and I could get

      • Now, I just checked and I could get those same RAM sticks for around 40$ each.

        Actually, it's just 22$.... I looked in the wrong column ("Regular Price" vs "Web Price"... Regular price was 32$, which still is way lower than 40$ ) Next time, I'll cite the website appropriately ;-)

  • I have helped establish two computer drop-ins in the east end (the poor bit) of London using 'old' computers re-installed with Ubuntu (that's the one every seemed to like). In both cases the computer are often over five years old, but for browsing, a little bit of office work or homework and some games, they do just fine. One of the drop-ins has been problem free for two years (though I shouldn't say that aloud, should I?)

    My neighbours change computers because they see the adverts on TV, because versions
  • You want to know why is not cost effective to repair old computers greed, simple. I came to the town I now live in and I had a lot of time while I was getting my company of the ground. So I got a job in one of the high street computer repair shops, not a chain like PC World. I would rather stab myself in the leg with a fork than work at one of those places.

    When I started it was like doing the time warp back to 1995. Every component was the oldest cheapest crappies piece of shit on the market and have a mark

    • by vosester (1163269)

      Having Dyslexia some time make's me laugh, The title was suppose to be "The tax dodging fuck's"

      Take a guess what I been doing with my spare time.

  • Ultimately though it is just hard to resist to buy new hardware when you can afford it.

Whatever is not nailed down is mine. Whatever I can pry up is not nailed down. -- Collis P. Huntingdon, railroad tycoon

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