updated 11:55 am EDT, Thu August 6, 2009
Apple Tops Tech Sup Ranks
Apple has maintained a decisive lead in technical support rankings for 2009, according to a new Laptop study. Of ten major companies tested, only Apple managed an "A" grade for its help, earning it across both its ability to solve problems on calls and online; it also kept hold times to under five minutes and located its support only in North America. The company is further helped by having a dedicated retail network that can address questions in person, the magazine adds.
No other PC builder matched Apple's score, although Lenovo and Sony came closest with "B+" scores. ASUS, Fujitsu, Gateway and Toshiba all scored either "B" (for Toshiba) or "B-" for minor issues such as long hold times, small errors in support or poor websites that were balanced by good phone support. With the exception of ASUS, these typically also outsourced their support to India or the Philippines and potentially had poor call quality or other communication problems as a result.
Of the group, however, it was the largest PC builders -- Acer, Dell and HP -- that fared the poorest and were handed "C-" grades. These often included significant mistakes, such as Acer and HP representatives claiming an in-warranty notebook no longer qualified and often having serious communication problems with the outsourced support. Dell's support had the worst score. While its online support was good, its phone support was far worse with a confusing menu system, very long hold times, and in one support case reaching three separate agents before receiving help despite the agent not finding the relevant warranty.
The discrepancies in the level of support aren't immediately explained but appear to affect companies that focus the most on selling low-priced systems, as the lowest three all have full-sized notebook lineups that start below $400. Prices this low typically come with small profit margins or are even considered "loss leaders" that are compensated for either through cuts to support or through profits from higher-end systems.