Independent Computer Tech Support Services Trump Manufacturers' According to Consumer Reports

June issue also features a review of Windows Vista & laptop & desktop

Ratings



May 08, 2007, 01:00 ET from Consumer Reports

    YONKERS, N.Y., May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Independent computer
 tech support trumps manufacturer tech support according to a new survey
 from the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The results, which are
 featured in the June issue, reveal that independent tech support services
 affiliated with major retail chains such as Best Buys' Geek Squad and
 Circuit City's Firedog, solved 84 percent of users' problems with
 Windows-based PCs. Windows PC manufacturers' tech support was only able to
 solve 59 percent of problems.
     Consumer Reports surveyed more than 23,000 computer users to rate both
 independent and manufacturer computer tech support for the first time.
 Other findings include:
     --  Sixty-nine percent of users who contacted any type of independent
         support were highly satisfied versus 42 percent of those who used
         manufacturers support.
 
     --  More than half the survey respondents who used independent services
         spent $100 or more.
 
     --  Apple and Lenovo (IBM), with service contracts, both solved 80 percent
         of problems and stood head and shoulders above other manufacturers.
 
     --  Free manufacturer support succeeded only 53 percent of the time.
     When consumers should hire a geek
     Consumer Reports identified situations which may require professional
 attention to fix computer problems and which type of tech support provider
 (independent or manufacturer) was better at helping solve the problem.
     --  The source of the problem isn't obvious.  If the problem doesn't
         clearly lie with the original setup, an independent is more likely to
         solve it.
 
     --  A virus or spyware might be to blame.  Independents were more likely
         to make diagnoses for this problem doing so for 25 percent of the
         calls compared to manufacturer tech support that unearthed the
         culprits for only 8 percent.
 
     --  No-hassle phone service.  Only 12 percent of users reported problems
         with independents' phone support compared with 58 percent of those who
         phone manufacturers.  Phoning costs less than in-home service.
 
                            When not to hire a geek
     --  Protect the warranty.  If a computer is still under warranty, make
         sure using another service won't void it.
     The report also features a run-down of the best-known independent
 services and a how-to-choose-guide. Also included are some tips consumers
 can use to get the most out of manufacturer tech support. CR reveals the
 best way to reach Apple, Compaq/HP, Gateway, Dell, Lenovo/IBM, Sony, and
 Toshiba.
     Apple users were equally satisfied overall, whether they used phone,
 Web site, e-mail or chat for contacting the company. Because phone support
 is free for only 90 days, CR suggests that consumers consider buying a
 three-year AppleCare Plan.
     For Consumer Reports Take on Windows Vista
     Overall, Consumer Reports found that Windows Vista is an improvement
 over XP, but it has a few rough edges. For consumers who are happy with
 their existing computer running Windows XP, CR doesn't think there is
 reason enough to upgrade.
     Vista's user interface has more eye appeal than XP's and CR liked its
 improved search function, onscreen gadgets (similar to Mac widgets), and
 parental controls. Consumer Reports tests found that Vista generally ran a
 bit slower than XP on comparably equipped computers, but not so slow that
 the difference would be noticeable when running a word processor or Web
 browser.
     To run Vista optimally, CR advises purchasing a new computer or
 upgrading an existing computer with at least 1GB of memory. However,
 consumers choosing to upgrade should make sure the software they already
 use is Vista-compatible. Security applications from an old computer, such
 as antivirus and antispy software will probably need to be updated to the
 latest version as well as multimedia applications such as Roxio Easy CD
 Creator and DivX.
     Running Microsoft's online Vista Upgrade Advisor will help consumers
 decide what programs and software should be updated and will also determine
 if an existing printer, scanner and/or other peripherals will work with a
 new PC equipped with Vista. CR recommends checking the Web sites of
 respective peripheral manufacturers for Vista-compatible drivers.
     Laptop & Desktop Ratings
     Consumer Reports rated 11 laptops and eight desktop computers. For
 laptops, ergonomics was the most important Ratings factor. The Apple
 Macbook Pro 15-inch, $2,000, topped the Ratings for ergonomics and was
 deemed a Quick Pick for features and long battery life.
     The Toshiba Satellite A135-S4427, $900, and Acer Aspire AS5610-4537,
 $850, which CR says are best values, were very good overall, and among the
 lightest Windows laptops, with very good ergonomics and battery life.
     For desktops, CR ranks them by test results and features. The Dell
 Dimension E521, $655, a CR Best Buy ranked high in the Ratings and offers a
 lot for the money, including a comfortable keyboard, optical mouse and
 quiet operation.
     The full report, which features complete laptop and desktop Ratings, is
 available in the June 2007 issue of Consumer Reports, which is available
 wherever magazines are sold and portions of the story are available for
 free online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org.
     JUNE 2007
     The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it
 may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R)
 is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit
 organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe
 marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect
 themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To
 maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no
 outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the
 interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of
 our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few
 noncommercial grants.
 
 

SOURCE Consumer Reports
    YONKERS, N.Y., May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Independent computer
 tech support trumps manufacturer tech support according to a new survey
 from the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The results, which are
 featured in the June issue, reveal that independent tech support services
 affiliated with major retail chains such as Best Buys' Geek Squad and
 Circuit City's Firedog, solved 84 percent of users' problems with
 Windows-based PCs. Windows PC manufacturers' tech support was only able to
 solve 59 percent of problems.
     Consumer Reports surveyed more than 23,000 computer users to rate both
 independent and manufacturer computer tech support for the first time.
 Other findings include:
     --  Sixty-nine percent of users who contacted any type of independent
         support were highly satisfied versus 42 percent of those who used
         manufacturers support.
 
     --  More than half the survey respondents who used independent services
         spent $100 or more.
 
     --  Apple and Lenovo (IBM), with service contracts, both solved 80 percent
         of problems and stood head and shoulders above other manufacturers.
 
     --  Free manufacturer support succeeded only 53 percent of the time.
     When consumers should hire a geek
     Consumer Reports identified situations which may require professional
 attention to fix computer problems and which type of tech support provider
 (independent or manufacturer) was better at helping solve the problem.
     --  The source of the problem isn't obvious.  If the problem doesn't
         clearly lie with the original setup, an independent is more likely to
         solve it.
 
     --  A virus or spyware might be to blame.  Independents were more likely
         to make diagnoses for this problem doing so for 25 percent of the
         calls compared to manufacturer tech support that unearthed the
         culprits for only 8 percent.
 
     --  No-hassle phone service.  Only 12 percent of users reported problems
         with independents' phone support compared with 58 percent of those who
         phone manufacturers.  Phoning costs less than in-home service.
 
                            When not to hire a geek
     --  Protect the warranty.  If a computer is still under warranty, make
         sure using another service won't void it.
     The report also features a run-down of the best-known independent
 services and a how-to-choose-guide. Also included are some tips consumers
 can use to get the most out of manufacturer tech support. CR reveals the
 best way to reach Apple, Compaq/HP, Gateway, Dell, Lenovo/IBM, Sony, and
 Toshiba.
     Apple users were equally satisfied overall, whether they used phone,
 Web site, e-mail or chat for contacting the company. Because phone support
 is free for only 90 days, CR suggests that consumers consider buying a
 three-year AppleCare Plan.
     For Consumer Reports Take on Windows Vista
     Overall, Consumer Reports found that Windows Vista is an improvement
 over XP, but it has a few rough edges. For consumers who are happy with
 their existing computer running Windows XP, CR doesn't think there is
 reason enough to upgrade.
     Vista's user interface has more eye appeal than XP's and CR liked its
 improved search function, onscreen gadgets (similar to Mac widgets), and
 parental controls. Consumer Reports tests found that Vista generally ran a
 bit slower than XP on comparably equipped computers, but not so slow that
 the difference would be noticeable when running a word processor or Web
 browser.
     To run Vista optimally, CR advises purchasing a new computer or
 upgrading an existing computer with at least 1GB of memory. However,
 consumers choosing to upgrade should make sure the software they already
 use is Vista-compatible. Security applications from an old computer, such
 as antivirus and antispy software will probably need to be updated to the
 latest version as well as multimedia applications such as Roxio Easy CD
 Creator and DivX.
     Running Microsoft's online Vista Upgrade Advisor will help consumers
 decide what programs and software should be updated and will also determine
 if an existing printer, scanner and/or other peripherals will work with a
 new PC equipped with Vista. CR recommends checking the Web sites of
 respective peripheral manufacturers for Vista-compatible drivers.
     Laptop & Desktop Ratings
     Consumer Reports rated 11 laptops and eight desktop computers. For
 laptops, ergonomics was the most important Ratings factor. The Apple
 Macbook Pro 15-inch, $2,000, topped the Ratings for ergonomics and was
 deemed a Quick Pick for features and long battery life.
     The Toshiba Satellite A135-S4427, $900, and Acer Aspire AS5610-4537,
 $850, which CR says are best values, were very good overall, and among the
 lightest Windows laptops, with very good ergonomics and battery life.
     For desktops, CR ranks them by test results and features. The Dell
 Dimension E521, $655, a CR Best Buy ranked high in the Ratings and offers a
 lot for the money, including a comfortable keyboard, optical mouse and
 quiet operation.
     The full report, which features complete laptop and desktop Ratings, is
 available in the June 2007 issue of Consumer Reports, which is available
 wherever magazines are sold and portions of the story are available for
 free online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org.
     JUNE 2007
     The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it
 may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R)
 is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit
 organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe
 marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect
 themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To
 maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no
 outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the
 interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of
 our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few
 noncommercial grants.
 
 SOURCE Consumer Reports