updated 11:45 pm EDT, Mon April 29, 2013
Mac maker far surpasses rivals, even bests its own previous score
While after-sale support is not always a priority factor in most consumers' tech buying decisions, tales of Apple's superior customer support are legendary. On Monday, Consumer Reports reinforced Apple's stellar service reputation with yet another top ranking as America's best computer tech support vendor. Apple has been the top-ranked support provider overall for at least the last 10 years, and even managed to improve its 2012 score in this year's survey.
The race, as is usually the case, wasn't even close. Apple scored an overall 86 out of 100 on the survey, which is taken from Consumer Reports subscribers in January regarding new technology purchases over the last 12 months. It had scored 78 in the 2012 survey. Either score would have been more than enough to beat the next nearest competitor, China's Lenovo, which earned a 63 ranking, meaning "fairly satisfied."
The dramatic jump in Apple's reliability score may also reflect not just after-sales service but a lower chance of running into any problems that require support. The company's MacBook and iMac lines are very well-regarded in this area, and the company has repeatedly been singled out by J.D. Power and Associates for top quality rankings in mobile devices, winning its ninth consecutive semi-annual survey for smartphones last month, and fourth consecutive semi-annual tablet award.
When it came to solving user problems (which may or may not be hardware-related), Apple again trounced the competition with a score of 82, compared to the next-best score of 78 for the broad category of "white-box shops" that built custom PCs to order. The next mainstream competitor was Dell with a score of just 61.
Apple was also the only major computer maker to score positively in the areas of phone support and online support, garnering "Better" rankings where no other company managed anything but the lowest category rating, "fair." Apple won again in the category of in-store support as well; Consumer Reports said the company was able to solve 88 percent of the problems brought to it, compared to 73 percent for the next-best competitor, Staples' EasyTech. Generic custom PC builders (as a category) solved 71 percent of problems, while Best Buy's Geek Squad scored a 70 percent rating.