Staples Virus Removal Fraud

Have you ever wondered how Staples can charge just $90 for a virus removal when a typical scan takes hours and most virus/spyware removals take multiple scans with different applications these days? Even then most tools fail.

I have a really simple explanation. Actual virus removals never happen. Staples outlines below the process to remove viruses and spyware from customers computers and the process fails miserably every single time. So what do Staples techs do in practice? They charge customers a low fee for a virus removal and then upsell when the removal fails. So instead of getting $90 customers get charged $100 for up to 10GB of data to be backed up, $100 for an OS installation, and $30 per software title that needs to be reloaded. Now- that is assuming the customers have made recovery discs. If they haven’t it is another $40. What is worse the non-tech employees are trained to bring computers in for diagnostics- which adds another $70 to the bill. I have no problem charging customers allot for service- but being dishonest about the charges really bugs me. Then they also attempt to sell you the same program (Norton) that didn’t pick up the vriuses in the first place.

Here is the evidence to prove it:


31 Responses to “Staples Virus Removal Fraud”

  1. Staples EZTech Says:

    The idea behind that piece of paper you hold is to prevent the future infections of a machine. I’m not sure where you see … if the removal fails …

    What I see is “…If the computer is heavily infected … customer should perform … system restore…” Of course that is a paraphrased version. I work at a Staples Store in Columbus, and if for some reason if a virus removal doesn’t work, we refund the cost of that and will put it toward a “System Restore” (Here I find it important to note that that is not just using a restore point, it’s a Factory Restore.) or completely refund it all together.

    If you are referring to “2)” Under the Installation guide then, having a good antivirus software often prevents many types of infections viruses what have you. They don’t cover for user error, (though kaspersky tries sometimes- I don’t recommend that for someone who is not computer savvy) but they do a well enough job of keeping the more mundane, and some of the rarer viruses of a machine.

    Until recently the “Virus Removal” service included the installation of an Antivirus Software provided they purchased it.

    If you have other questions or accusations, I’ll try to check this regularly. I realize that not all individuals are not as honest as they should be, but that piece of paper there is not an Upsell, it is a service to help people to not have to bring their computers back in.

    -Staples EZ Tech

  2. ixnotes Says:

    To Staples EZTech: That is garbage. Every single Staples you take it into will give you a slightly different take on the same thing. Some don’t quite follow this outline- but that doesn’t mean it isn’t policy. The policy clearly forces techs to run Norton to remove viruses because that is the tool they were given. Then, when that fails, they are instructed to upsell. There is no money back guarantee here even if some Staples stores managers are doing that. I’ve spoken with enough people who have been informed otherwise.

  3. ixnotes Says:

    What Staples should do is just honestly say they can’t remove viruses and wipe all machines that come in.

  4. Staples EZ Tech Says:

    Whoever you’ve heard the non moneyback guarantee isn’t accurate. If a computer is infected beyond what we can fix, we refund the virus removal and encourage the customer to have a factory restore done. I have Never charged a customer for a service that didn’t fix their computer.

    What I was explaining before are the mechanics of that “policy” which would be currently outdated. No Staples store in the US at this time, 5/12/10 do virus removals anymore. They use an offsite Tech Center to remote access and remove viruses that way.

    I’m not exactly sure where you are located as far as Region goes, but no store to my knowledge has ever charged someone for a service that didn’t work. That is why there is a “Workmanship Guarantee” at the bottom of every work order. Now often we do encourage customers to get a “System Restore” rather than a Virus Removal. Namely because that first option is about $30 cheaper than the $129.99 Virus removal. Much of the cost comes from the backup of data which is $99.99.

    When I first started working there I thought that was highway robbery. But when you look at the demographics of the customers who use EZ Tech Services, many of them have no idea how to do them on their own.

    I have personally worked in Two locations while my EZ Tech Resident, which is the fancy name for the guy who does “most” of the EZ tech work-namely the services that they want someone to have A+ certification for-Has worked in five locations over the last couple of years.
    I guess I can’t speak for stores outside my immediate area, but I know the practices of which you are speaking do not go on here. Specific comments or complaints should be directed to the Oversite. Every Staples has little business cards with phone numbers to the “President’s Office.” And Atypical to most companies those really do reflect on our stores.

    *** Also, before the way of removing viruses changed, (which was very recent) we didn’t use Norton to remove viruses but a host of other removal tools as well. Half the time Norton doesn’t pick anything up.

    -EZ Tech

  5. ixnotes Says:

    To EZTech: You may not have charged anybody. Others have and they were right in doing so. Things do change although this is still a dishonest practice in offering a customers one service, bricking a system, and forcing them into another.

    Remote virus removals are worse than in-store virus removals. Half the time viruses have made remote virus removals impossible since systems can’t even connect to the Internet.

    It was a very standard practice to charge customers for services that didn’t work. I saw it regularly. I still see it. People are charged diagnostics on top of it too often times.

    I don’t think charging people a ton of money is highway robbery. It is a service and the market decides what people will pay. It is however dishonest the way Staples, BestBuy, and others advertise these services.

    Staples changes how it does things every other week. It is completely dysfunctional. Whoever thought $90 was right for the price of a virus removal is a moron. Whoever thought Norton would solve the problem is a moron. Whoever thought outsourcing it would work is a moron.

    Staples had a major problem too when they were doing it in-store too. If they went back to doing it in-store they need a took-kit more like BestBuy that actually is more than off-the-shelf and automated. That stops the problem of tech’s piracy or using unlicensed software and saves time. By that I mean anti-virus software downloaded from the Internet not licensed for commercial use. Then customers need to know that if the removal fails it may result in the disablement of their machine- and to get it back up and running would require the software that came with it, data backup charge, software installation charges, and operating system installation charges, and may not contain all the configuration and customizations that they had done.

  6. ixnotes Says:

    One more thing. Before the new system took effect Staples DID use two different tool kits to remove viruses in-store- it may have been before your time although not that long ago. Within the past year or so- the one was based on software by webroot and the one that they started using after it was based on Norton. In either case it was the only software the techs had available at any one time. So you could be sure they never had a successful virus removal EVER if they didn’t violate licensing. Virus removals fail almost 100% of the time and that is just the fact of the matter the way Staples does them. Staples is incompetent. BestBuy maybe a little less so although not much better.

  7. Staples EZT Says:

    “Virus removals fail almost 100% of the time and that is just the fact of the matter the way Staples does them.”

    That isn’t true! Not for the most part anyways. The NTT tool used by our stores is a crappy tool I agree and almost never works. But I have had it work about 60 to 80% of the time and remove viruses. No it won’t do it to the extent of say Malwarebytes or Super AntiSpyware but it does work to an extent. But most of the time when it does work. It still leaves registry keys and other files in the system which I always go in an delete manually.

    The company does change things I.E. Policies a lot too which I hate. They are still growing as a new Tech Company for the most part. This IS an office Suppy Store so they are new to this even though they been in the game some years now. Hopefully they get things situated better and do it soon.

    I like the company for the most part. But Tech wise it depends on who is working on the actual Tech work and who is running the store. At our store we refund all a customers money if we cannot complete the service. If a person comes in for a virus removal, I will turn on the PC and check to see if I can infact even remove the Virus without causing the system stability issues. If I cannot I recommend a system restore.

    Policy is to cover them and get more sales. That paper is out dated but its not like what we have now is any better. I still do not use the In Store Online Virus Removal as it is stupid. I normally do it myself. Out of the time I have been doing this I never have had a customer complaint about a service to me personally. Prior to me working at my current location I had heard many horror stories.

    Hopefully they fix up the way the Tech Department is run. They are trying but taking a long time with it. 😦

    • ixnotes Says:

      OK- you state that it almost never works and then go on to say it works 60-80% of the time. You are just full of BS and anybody reading here can see that. I can see right through you. It will pick up a harmless cookie if you get lucky enough. Yea- I’ll agree with that. I don’t consider that working. Clearly you consider that working though if you are going to say it works 60-80% of the time. But that assumes you are also running it on systems that aren’t infected with viruses and spyware. A cookie is not a virus or malicious application even if it can be used to track you. This is going beyond absurd. Malware bytes and other programs don’t work either. They are better than Norton in that they pick up actual viruses and spyware at least though. They too fail to successfully remove all viruses and spyware. The fact is the whole security industry is a fraud. You can’t fight viruses and spyware by going after the programs you have to fight it by patching the vulnerabilities that let them in. The flawed operating system design is the problem and the code itself. That is primarily Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, Microsoft’s Outlook, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, MS Windows Media Player, Java, and a handful of other programs that people use need to be patched frequently as soon as vulnerabilities are discovered. Not whenever Microsoft gets around to it and then on patch Tuesday… followed by who knows when the actual patch will slowly be distributed through MS updates to users. Not to mention Microsoft hasn’t developed a single system to manage updates. So every application has to be updated manually.

      How exactly do you “see if [you] can infact even remove the virus without causing system stability issues”. You won’t know until you try it. So- no you just remove it and if the system fails then the user is told they need a system restore. That is just how it works. Unless you are going to suggest that you can base it on appearances. Then i’ll know you are a complete moron. I’ll give you the credit of the doubt. You probably are pretty darn smart… Eventually you’ll admit it to yourself. You just can’t do it yet. It is a fraud. Don’t worry. We’re all done our time. You’ll move on to better things eventually. No shame in defrauding people. We all got to do it to a degree to make a buck in life. It just sucks to be you in a position where you have little control. Sure- you can avoid virus removals to an extent. But other associates are still going to sell them who don’t know better. Wipe & reload is the name of the game. Do it from the start and you’ll have a happy customer. Save you time, them money, and …. next week you’ll see them again. God isn’t MS Windows great? For the company anyway?

  8. Jonathan Says:

    I am going to set a couple things in perspective for those that are interested in truth and facts rather than personal hate, opinion, and warped knowledge. I am not going to try and compare PC knowledge with anyone here . The reason of course is that whether you are a wealth of knowledge or simply a person with a “Tech Friend” you DO NOT have to be an expert by anyones imagination.

    First in regards to the blatant and widespread accusations made by the author. Staples has over 1500 stores in the U.S. and if this magnitude of fraud were occuring at Staples stores you would have the Justice Dept., FBI, SEC and local law enforcement camping out at staples stores and the Corporate office. Instead you have quite the opposite, In my perso

    • ixnotes Says:

      Ok- “Jonathan” the “government” of which you have multiple levels including state and federal have gone after Microsoft, Staples, BestBuy, and numerous others for these and other practices. You don’t seriously think they go after every instance of fraud and abuse do you? Some instances are more clear cut than others, but this is blatant too if you understand what computer security really is rather than what the snake oil salesperson is selling. You get screwed by corporations every day if you haven’t noticed. Microsoft Windows is full of holes and vulnerabilities. Anti-virus companies under the guise of security companies or purporting to offer security and which can’t fix these holes are selling fake products advertising fixes that don’t fix these holes or problems. They don’t have the source code! The entire industry is making money off this and nobody is willing to stand up and say enough is enough- because everybody is making money off it. Microsoft, Staples, the “security” industry (Symantec), and even the Internet service providers by adding “value” to the chain store’s extortionist prices. Microsoft doesn’t fix it’s own products and that’s the problem. Sure- maybe those extortionist prices are fair and reasonable. Staples is offering a service. It’s called educating the masses on how to to protect themselves against viruses and spyware. The problem is that it doesn’t work. Depending on where you look just about everybody is infected too… just a quick glance of an article on wikipedia says 61% for spyware. I’ve ready 84% of users between other types of malware though in more recent studies. When 90% of users are running MS Windows that means there is nobody who is a non-technical user who is NOT infected. And you are going to tell me that anti-virus is not a fraud?

  9. Jonathan Says:

    I don’t know what your motivation is to make the claims that you have against Staples. Perhaps you were a former employee or maybe just a unhappy customer. I have browsed the very proffesional blogspot this is posted on and have come to the conclusion that you are simply trying to stir up response for your blog.

    Another point that must be made for the author is that Staples, along with alomost every other business has a target customer, or specific cust.

    • ixnotes Says:

      Motivation? My motivation is discontent and disgust at the system and people just accepting what is put in front of them. Why do you put up with it? You don’t have to. Have I put forth a single product here? I’m not selling anything. I have no stocks in any competitor of Staples. I don’t hate Staples or anybody that works at Staples. BestBuy is worse than Staples in allot of ways. And I certainly haven’t advertised a single commercial service. No. Not one. So if I have a motivation it certainly isn’t making me any money here. And before anybody says it is GNU/Linux by based on looking at the other blog pages. Yea- GNU/Linux is free, GNU/Linux is free as in freedom- that is. You can get it from a friend, you can change it you know how, you can redistribute it, and so on as long as those people have the same rights and code as you do. You probably will pay for it though in some way if you are an average user though so SOMEBODY is making money off it- but not me. Anyway. I don’t work for Ubuntu- or have stock in it. Ubuntu isn’t publicly traded company. I do use that version though. There are other versions of GNU/Linux and the same thing applies to those other version generally speaking. And BestBuy actually sold/sells Ubuntu so- 🙂 when I say it’s worse in allot of ways you know I mean it. Nothing personal. Just is what it is. They take advantage like everybody else of people. I like that they’re selling it- but I don’t like how they do business either.

  10. Jonathan Says:

    The average customer for tech services in store is usually a slightly above or below average PC user. These customers are usually on the go and either don’t have the no-how, time, or simply the desire to complete these final acts

    • ixnotes Says:

      Nobody said they shouldn’t make money off selling support services at outrageous prices. The market allows that. They are selling services they aren’t able to perform and being dishonest about what they can do. They are also knowingly selling faulty products. Every single tech should know better. If they haven’t figured it out something is wrong. The level of incompetence is amazing. And to have people- maybe one person arguing with me here suggests offence. Don’t you know that those users go home and have systems that are flaky if they aren’t still infected? You have no way of knowing if they are still infected. Once infected you can’t be sure of anything.

    • ixnotes Says:

      You might not fully appreciate the benefits of free software -but learn them you should:

  11. Oz Says:

    OK OK OK …. Its my turn. I am a computer “tech” and I can say first hand Staples services is crap. This is strickly opinion and like I said I did this crap of a service for 2 yrs with this company. It is a Hoax that is why I run my own computer company now. Thanks Staples. That was easy.

    • Speel cheekr Says:


      I hope you get someone else to type out your service invoices as your spelling and grammar are atrocious. But that’s just “strickly” my opinion.

      • ixnotes Says:

        I guess youa are perfect then? It’s the web. Not an English class. Get over yourself and stick to the topic at hand.

  12. Anthony Marcellus Says:

    I am the easy tech expert at a Staples in NYC and I find this quite insulting. The virus removal is not a fraud. Yes it is quite pricey but we do remove the virus. If the system is too heavily infected to remove the normal way we do not charge the customer extra. We will back up the data and re install the OS at no additional cost, with the customer’s permission of course. I can’t speak for the other stores but we are very honest at our store. Yes the Sales Managers do force us to upsell because they are SALES MANAGERS and they think about money but we are also fair. If a service cannot be performed then my customer will receive a full refund. Maybe you should do some more research and spend time at other Staples stores before judging the entire Staples company easy tech department. Oh and by the way the technicians in my department are A+ certified outside the job so they do know what they are doing including myself

    • ixnotes Says:

      The point is the incompetence of the instruction which is given for virus removals. Any half decent tech can see that this process will fail. A+ certification does not make a person a competent tech. If a person sells the above described procedure they are either committing fraud or incompetent.

      It is ingenious to say if a service can’t be performed when you know full well that the service will be performed and fail. The customer on the other hand does not know this until after the service has been performed.

      It’s not a matter of doing research. If your NYC store was following Staple’s protocol at the time (this is an older protocol and the procedure has changed) they were committing fraud.

      Not to worry though. Your competitor isn’t any better.

  13. Woods Says:

    As someone who used to work at staples and left because of these rip offs i laughed at this because the store employees do not remove the viruses anymore. They just connect the computer to the internet and then another company does all the work for them. I left once we were no longer able to do the virus removals our selves. At my store when I worked there a Virus Removal was 129.99 and 95% of the time that was it but of course there can always be other problems than just a virus and then pile on the charges people.

  14. Staples EZ Tech Says:

    Remote removal is a OPTION for the techs at staples. If the tech is unable to fine the time in the day to fully remove all virus on the computer then they have the option to connect it to a remote company for removal. Other than that staples no longer really uses norton. Norton is only used as a check to see if any virus are still picked up after the virus removal. Other than that they use Malware Bytes, Eset, TDSS killer, along with a few others for virus removals. Virus removals are done in store for the most part. This has been the current policy for the past year and a half. Other than that you do have to realize that Staples is a Retail store and the number 1 rule in retail wherever you are is always UPSELL.

    • Staples EZ Tech Says:

      Its all about the DOUGH and if you guys are upset that a company is making money off of other peoples lack of knowledge with computers, than you guys should do something about it. Make your own buisness and try a turn a profit and then you will see what the real world is…

      • ixnotes Says:

        No. It’s not that. It’s that it is fraud to claim your going to remove a virus by means you know won’t remove it (and are likely to infect those who are not infected). Then go and make fraudulent claims about it being impossible to remove in order to ‘upsell’ on a more expensive service. It would have been perfectly fine for them to scan systems for viruses and report back to customers what they found, and then upsell based on facts, if they would like to have it removed. That is not what they were doing though. They took actions that were knowingly infecting or should have been knowing would infect users machines. Training sales people with the absolute minimum to half-destroy peoples PCs rather than hire trained technicians is another issue I have with the company. You can’t pay someone $9 USD and hour and expect them to be technically competent. What they expect is for you to follow a certain procedure which results in money and poor service.

        I’m no die hard socialist. 2nd. I do own a company and it’s not based on defrauding customers. There is a difference. I may not be 100% agreeable with our current system although I’m certainly working within the system in a capitalist manor. My profits though are derived from ethical behavior and go toward funding a lot of respectable organizations which are doing a lot of good. Not to mention my company in and of itself is doing a lot of good.

        Dammed if I’m going to promote it here either.

    • ixnotes Says:

      This post was from 2009. Things have obviously changed although I’m not sure they have changed for the better.

      In any case upsell is a given. What Staples was doing at the time was just fraudulent.

  15. staples ez tech Says:

    I can assure you staples doesn’t infect customer computers. The only up selling staples can do on virus removals are: 149.99- virus removal, 129.99- system restore (for PCs with 700+ virus), and if the customer doesn’t have a antivirus: 40.00 for a AV software or recovery discs for the restore (if needed) The techs for staples are also responsible for the sales floor so, that remote virus removal is still done by staples but by someone not physically in store so that the in store employee can take care of customers on the floor. They don’t install any form of virus

    • ixnotes Says:

      I have no idea how Staples does it today. However I have zero confidence in the people making the decisions on how to run things in the tech department.

      I can confirm that Staples employees were infecting users in the past because of bad Staples policy.

      They released numerous tools through partnerships, and/or other relations, etc which explicitly had Staples branding and resulted in customers systems being infected as a result of incompetence at a higher level. These decisions were not made by low level techs and clearly went straight to the top. The tools were produced by anti-virus vendors and given to techs on USB flash drives. The instructions on how to use the tools and all just made me cringe. The people hired were not technically competent and the tools lacking. Combine the two and it’s a disaster. Taking sales people off the floor to do tech work doesn’t work.

      Your very statement makes me cringe too. ‘700+’ viruses is meaningless. Once your infected all bets are off. One virus or 700+ doesn’t matter. It is whether or not the anti-virus program is able to detect it. The user is no better off if there is just one viurs vs 700+. Then there is the matter of there never being just one virus. Toolkits consist of a multiple of components. Your never infected with just ‘one virus’. And what constitutes a virus? Are you also removing malware? Do you even know the difference. MS Windows is a horrible platform and any recommendation short of wiping it is probably stupid. Even that is a dumb recommendation. Moving platforms is the only good solution- and companies like Staples, HP, Dell, and Microsoft don’t make that easy. However Staples went beyond this, in that they didn’t just recommend wiping, they were infecting users systems first, then advising the customer the system couldn’t be fixed because it was too badly infected.

      The only right way to do this is to have a read-only (but updatable / easily replaceable on a daily/or weekly basis, or read-only network based solution) bootable medium which scans the system for viruses. Then the company wouldn’t be infecting itself or its customers in the process of trying to upsell them on a wipe. Apparently bestbuy has such a live cd tool, though I wouldn’t give bestbuy any credit as far as the competency of there techs go or upper management.

      For better or worse I’m aware of whats been done at both these companies in the not so far off past.

      • Ixnotes is ******* Says:

        How would you know that these practices where going on if you weren’t doing them yourself… Or had some non tech dingleberry you know doing it?

      • ixnotes Says:

        Not every tech follows orders. I did see first hand “techs” doing this (per instruction from above). Just to be clear… I didn’t say I worked for the company. I only said I saw this happening.

  16. ETE Says:

    I’ve been with Staples for over 6 years now and I am the tech supervisor and I can tell you what staples easy tech is saying is correct. You know how often we get people that come back with an infected computer still? About 1-2% of the time. Nothing is 100%. I am huge on privacy and make sure my customer’s data/info is never compromised whether it be from viruses or stuff that staples apparently puts on their customer’s computers. I make sure my techs know where we stand with regard to transparency with our customers. Sure, there are times we can’t work on PCs quick enough because of other tasks (freight, customers on the floor, ect.) but we try to do our best when it comes to getting customer’s PCs clean and virus free. If techs are infecting computers, it is an individual thing, not Staples as a company.

    • ixnotes Says:

      Your best is poor. Staples hiring policies are poor and self-centered. The company hires sales people to be techs and that just doesn’t work. 1-2% is a bogus number for sure. Even the most competent of techs wouldn’t claim that number. If you actually think that 1-2% is anywhere near reality your stupider than I thought. Given the competency of the majority of techs your statements are a load of shit too.

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