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It’s hard to believe but another year has passed.  To say 2016 served up some surprises is understating the obvious.  With the Brexit vote, Trump election and our nearly hung parliament, 2017 promises to be unpredictable.  As the old Chinese curse says, “may you live in interesting times”.

We’ll wind up the year with a look at your consumer rights when buying online, our Christmas trading hours and some new year changes here at PPS.

New name, new logo, improved service options

As Professional PC Support approaches a quarter of a century in age, we thought it was time to give it a name that reflected not only its roots but also what everyone calls us anyway.  To that end we are officially rebranding in the new year as “PPS”.  We have a new logo but the same reliable services you’ve come to expect.

Some of our more astute readers may have already noticed some of the changes in the logos of our tools.  Our remote management agent is no longer an orange P, rather a miniaturised version of the new logo.  Our invoices and other communications have also changed recently.

Let me know what you think of it.

 

Free Ransomware Decryption

Coming soon to a screen near you is a new variant of CryptoLocker.  You may recall that this is a virus that spreads via email pretending to be a bill, greeting card, traffic fine etc.  Once infected all your data files are encrypted and you have to pay for the decryption key.  We always advise never opening attachments unless you know the source of the email but now we’re even qualifying that advice – read on.

Kaspersky Labs has reported a variant that gives you the option of infecting two other machines and getting them to pay up to get the decryption key.  You are provided with a link to email your friends and if you get two to cough up the ransom you get your files decrypted for free.  There is even an explanation that they are only doing this to provide food and medicine to war torn Syria and apologise for having to take this action to survive.

I’m sure there will be a small percentage of ruthless people that might take advantage of the offer.  Sure, they’d be breaking the law and, I suspect, permanently terminating the friendship but …

 

Buying Online

I know I covered this a few issues ago but a recent press release from Consumer Affairs reminded me that many people are still unaware of their rights.

If you buy from an Australian web site then you are fully protected by Australian Consumer Law.  ACL dictates that sellers must be honest and accurate with their descriptions, goods are of a quality fit for purpose and complaints need to be rectified.

Of course if you buy from an overseas web site then you are accepting the laws in that country, most of which will not be as consumer friendly as ours.

It gets a little murkier when you buy from an overseas website that looks like it’s Australian but it’s not.  I recently ordered some printing online only to discover the credit card was debited in The Netherlands.  I went back to their website and there was no hint that this was anything but an Australian company, even in the fine print.

Buying online can save you significantly, albeit with some risk.  Faulty goods, missing parcels, quality disputes and simple order errors are much harder to fix.  Paying with credit card or a payment service like PayPal will offer some protections.

My advice is look very closely at the reviews of the seller.  Anything with a horror story should be avoided, even if there are plenty of happy customers.

And now the government is getting in on the act asking even overseas sellers to collect GST.  The likes of Ebay and Amazon should fall in line pretty quickly as they already collect sales taxes for other countries.  How they are going to enforce it with the smaller retailers is still unclear.

Christmas Operations

As always, whilst many of our clients take a break over the Christmas New Year period, not everyone does.  We will be open throughout with the exception of the normal public holidays.  During that time we will be making sure all our monitoring and maintenance is completed to schedule.

What should you do to prep your business for the Christmas break?  Here are a few things that are often missed:

  • Depending on your business, either have voicemail or divert your phones. VoIP systems make this extremely easy with the ability to automatically turn the diversions on and off based on time and date.  Setting it up now will save coming back to the office because you were in a rush to get out on Christmas eve.
  • Alternatively change the ring pattern or auto attendant to reflect the temporary staffing levels.
  • Set your out of office in Outlook to remind people you’re taking a break. Again, you can schedule it so it comes on and goes off when it’s supposed to.
  • Don’t forget your voicemail – even on your mobile.
  • Make sure there is something on your website telling people what your Christmas opening hours are.

We wish all our customers, suppliers and business partners a great Christmas.
That’s it for this month.  Thanks for making it this far.  If there’s a topic you’d like to have covered next month, drop me a line.  Feel free to forward this email to anyone in your contacts that you think might be interested.  If you’re reading this because someone forwarded it to you, cut out the middle man by asking me to put you on the list.