'Consumer Reports': Apple tech support is aces

Apple's retail stores help the company quickly solve problems and satisfy customers far more often than the competition, according to the magazine.

Apple has the best technical support in the PC industry, according to the most recent issue of Consumer Reports.

An Apple customer gets some help at the Genius Bar inside a store in New York City. Caroline McCarthy/CNET News.com

The venerable magazine surveyed its readers to gather their experiences with technical support for personal computing, and Apple's organization far outpaced its rivals in the PC industry. Readers assigned the company a score of 83 for its notebook technical support, which translates to "very satisfied" on Consumer Reports' rating scale. You have to be a Consumer Reports subscriber if you want to access the articles and graphs on its Web site.

Lenovo and Dell ranked second and third, respectively, with scores of 66 and 60, or "fairly well satisfied." Hewlett-Packard, the current leader in the PC market , received the lowest score and the worst rating for its technical support staffers. Apple also led the desktop technical support pack with a score of 81, trailed by Dell and Gateway with scores below 60.

Apple has also ranked well on the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index, a yearly measure of consumer taste in various brands. The company solves problems quickly, especially for customers who take their Mac to one of the company's retail stores for service. But if you don't live near an Apple Store, the company offers the shortest amount of free telephone support of any of the PC companies.

When it comes to the number of problems that appear, Apple's record wasn't as stellar. The company was ranked last in the number of defects that cropped up in its notebooks between 2003 and 2007, although the margin of error in that survey meant that all the surveyed manufacturers essentially tied with defects found in between 20 percent and 23 percent of their notebooks.

But Apple did much better in desktops, leading the pack with the fewest defects reported between 2003 and 2007. And since customers respond well to companies that can quickly fix the inevitable problems that crop up in PCs and consumer electronics, Apple's surging Mac sales might have something to do with its support.

About the author

    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.

     

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