What can I do if a repair shop is not returning my computer and phone, both of which are used to run my business and contain sensitive data?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What can I do if a repair shop is not returning my computer and phone, both of which are used to run my business and contain sensitive data?

In September I took my expensive ASUS laptop for a screen replacement to a local computer shop. I run my business from it, and it contains sensitive data. When I took it for repair the computer worked but had lost the touch function because of a crack on the screen. After several failed attempts at replacing the screen, in December they allegedly sent it out to ASUS for further repair, without asking for my permission. In the meantime I have had to buy another computer. It is February and I still do not have the computer. Last week

the owner stopped answering my calls/messages. He said that they do not know when ASUS will finish the work and that I simply have to wait. At the same time I had brought to them my phone for a screen replacement. It is my business phone, unlocked for international use. It has a dual SIM as I need a U.S. number as well as an E.U. number. They tried fixing it but after a month the screen stopped working. They said it needed to be glued back. Now it does not work and they still have it. They gave me an inexpensive replacement phone but I am not able to get the work related E.U. calls. Besides the data and replacement costs this has caused me loss of work. What are my legal options? What can be done to get the computer repair shop to offer a settlement in order to avoid a lawsuit? The owner does not respond to calls.

Asked on February 12, 2019 under Business Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can't get them to offer a settlement without suing them--they have no incentive to settle unless you file a lawsuit, since otherwise, they can continue to do what they are doing. You should file a lawsuit against them for the value of the computer and phone they are withholding from you, and/or to recover any money you paid them for repairs they did not make. If you are concerned about legal costs, sue in small claims court, as your own attorney or "pro se." Again, only a lawsuit can make them pay--which means only a lawsuit puts pressure on them to pay.

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