updated 05:30 pm EST, Wed March 10, 2010
Apple beats Dell, Lenovo by 36 percent or more
Consumer Reports today gave Apple a major lead in its rankings for both desktop and notebook technical support [subscription required]. Among more than 7,000 readers, Apple's help scored 87 and 86 points in each category and was much higher-rated than any other computer manufacturer. Lenovo came closest in notebooks with just 63 points, while Dell fell far behind in desktops with a 55-point score.
Most other PC builders sat in this middle tier. In desktops, HP and Compaq shared a combined 53 points, while in notebooks Lenovo was followed by Toshiba (60), Dell (56) and HP/Compaq (53). Acer and its sub-brands eMachines as well as Gateway were all distant last places at 39 in both categories.
The study addresses both the ability of support representatives to actually solve problems but also hold times on the phone and other more subjective factors, such as the ability of staff to speak clearly and know their subjects and the experience of online help. Although Lenovo and Toshiba scored above average in some categories, Apple was the only one of the four to score significantly above average and did so in every aspect of both desktop and notebook support.
Editors at the magazine didn't attempt to explain the reasons behind the wide gap, although Apple is one of the few companies to decline outsourcing any of its North American support to a country where English is not the primary language. It also has the advantage a generally upscale choice of materials, such as aluminum bodies instead of plastic, and has a simpler range that reduces the number of models that its technicians need to understand.