by how many calls they clear off the board. Which means that most times, you get people you can't understand (you hang up quickly out of frustration so that call is marked 'cleared' at their end) or they don't understand your problem well enough to tell you how to fix it, or they will tell you that the problem is coming from another source (another program you've installed, etc) that they don't have any control over and can't help.
There are some companies, like ATI, that are really tenacious about getting to the bottom of the problem and helping you resolve it either via emails or telephone, but they are far and few between. Most of them will blame the problem on you or another program, lie outright to you, and very few of them ever admit that it's at their end because their tech support hasn't been trained well enough to know how to fix it or even know that there might be a downloadable patch to fix it.
The best bet for tech support are the internet forums, espcially at CNET since they are all free. You find people who have been in the same position, with the same problems, and have all found other forum members who have the solution. Very tenacious bunch of members who never give up on anybody.
PS....even ISP people will lie to you when you have problems connecting to the net or setting up your email program. They almost always will walk you through the steps of reinstalling your modem and drivers, setting up the dial up networking, setting up the cable/dsl connections, etc. so that you are starting from scratch.....but most times, you will find that the tech people didn't know that the problem was actually at their end with their servers going down temporarily and you have now reset all of your information for nothing. Most times, if you have been able to connect one minute and ten minutes later you can't, it's at their end and not yours. Just wait a little while and try it again, and you will usually find that everything is working again. Remember that large websites nearly always have a webmaster who has to do maintenance on their site to keep it refreshed and updated.....and you may have hit that website during that period of time. Or small websites, like my own, will have a webmaster who is in the middle of uploading new pages to add to the site or fixing something like a dead link on a page......and this will cause a temporary 'outage' of the site during those few minutes. A 'wait and see' mode is your safest bet before you panic and call for tech help when you may not need it.
What's your biggest gripe about tech support?
Disconnected calls (tell us about it)
Being put on hold (tell us about it)
Ridiculously short support hours (tell us about it)
No reply to my e-mail queries (tell us about it)
Can't understand what they're saying (tell us about it)
They don't seem to listen to me (tell us about it)
Simply bad advice (tell us about it)
Other (what is it?)