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article imageConsumer Reports: Apple Ranks No. 1 in Tech Support Survey, HP 'Inferior'

By Chris Hogg     May 6, 2008 in Technology
Apple reminds me of Google in a lot of ways: Both are big corporations driven by profit, but the two companies maintain rosy images in the media and are consistently praised as being "for" the consumer. Apple is now walking further down that path.
Digital Journal -- Apple couldn't ask for better PR: The company has been voted the best company from which to receive tech support according to Consumer Reports. No doubt, Apple works hard for that type of service, but it's yet another love arrow in the company's crowded quiver.
Apple's tech support earned exemplary scores across the board, earning high marks for problem solving, wait time on the phone and knowledge of the staff in both laptop and desktop systems.
The latest survey, featured in the June issue of Consumer Reports, draws on subscriber experiences with 10,000 desktop and laptop computers. According to the survey, tech support only fixed problems for consumers 60 per cent of the time. Apple, on the other hand, earned much higher marks, solving problems 80 per cent of the time. Apple beat out Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony and HP.
Outside of Apple's support, Consumers Reports ranks Lenovo high, Dell and Gateway were given a "significantly better" rating for customers who purchased a paid support plan, while HP and Compaq (an HP brand) reportedly offered "inferior" support.
Ratings and feedback were collected from more than 4,500 laptop owners and about 5,600 desktop computer owners who contacted tech support between Sept. 2006 and Jan. 2008. Consumers were then asked to rate their experience on three criteria: Whether the problem was fixed by the manufacturer's tech support, how long they waited to talk to someone on the phone and how knowledgeable the support staff were.
Apple received the highest ranking of "Better" in all three areas, and it was the only company to receive this feedback for both laptop and desktop categories.
Apple offers free walk-in support at Apple Stores and Consumers Reports says that affected survey results, as problems get fixed 90 per cent of the time when a customer takes a product physically to an Apple Store.
Mac owners do not need a warranty or extended warranty to receive support at Apple's in-store "Genius Bars," but replacement parts do require an out-of-pocket expense. Consumers Reports recommends an extended warranty on buying Mac computers, however, as the free 90-day support is shorter than industry standards.
When it comes to buying support plans or extended warranties in general, Consumers Reports says they are not worth it, as most computer repairs cost about the same as the plan. Consumers Reports only recommends purchasing a warranty in the following cases:
1. For laptops that travel a lot. If the laptop will be especially vulnerable physically, say if it will often be used on the go, consider a plan for repair reasons that will cover accidental damage. Many plans do that while most factory warranties specifically exclude coverage resulting from accidents or misuse.
2. When buying a Mac. CR has long said it's worth considering an extended plan for Macs due to Apple's very brief tech support which runs out 90 days after purchase, although unlimited support is available in its stores. While CR's survey showed Apple's track record for solving problems among consumers without paid plans was already a standout, it was even better than for support with a plan.
3. For certain PCs. Consumers who anticipate the need for continued hand-holding past the free tech support period with a Dell or Gateway PC should consider buying an extended plan, according to CR. These companies were significantly better at problem-solving for consumers with paid plans as opposed to the standard support offered with the purchase of a PC.
The least effective way to get tech support, says Consumer Reports was through manufacturer websites and via email.
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