"Won't you please, please help me."
Little did the Beatles know when they recorded those words more than 40 years ago, how appropriate they'd be today for consumers calling tech-support desks.
But indeed, nearly half of the consumers who contact a computer company's free-tech support line don't get their problems solved. That's what Consumer Reports found in a just published survey (pay required) of more than 20,000 subscribers with computer trouble. Only 55 percent of those surveyed got the help they needed and had their problems solved. That's probably not a big surprise to many of you.
"Free manufacturer support was dismal," with two exceptions: Apple's support for desktops and laptops and IBM for its support on its Lenovo laptops. Apple solved 76 percent of the survey respondent's problems; IBM, 64 percent. By contrast, Compaq had the worst free tech support program, solving just 38 percent of problems and keeping customers waiting a long time.
The magazine also said the extended fee-based warranty plans that are offered by many companies may not be worth the cost. "According to our survey, they didn't reduce many of the hassles people experienced with free support, though they did solve slightly more problems." Again, the exceptions were for IBM's Lenovo because the company solved 75 percent of users' problems and Apple because its free support is only for 90 days.
The other good news: Respondents said they have much better luck at independent support services, which resolved 90 percent of the problems.
And one more thing: Before going on phone-hold forever and being frustrated, consider asking your friends and family. "More than 60 percent of those who turned to family and friends after free support failed had their computer problem fixed," the magazine reported.
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