Apple and Hewlett Packard “made the grade” in a tech support test conducted by
magazine, a new personal technology monthly from the editors of
magazine. In the May issue, Apple would have received a perfect score if ON editors received “a clear answer on the monitor issue,” referring to a question on how work could be divided between two monitors.
HP also got a near-perfect score. But it lost points for a “first sour experience” when the technical rep spoke in too-technical terms, according to ON editors. Gateway took the “Good Citizenship Award” for friendliest service, “speaking with techno-certainty not techno-snobbery,” according to ON’s Wilson Rothman.
In their test, ON used new laptops from Apple, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sony and Toshiba. ON asked two questions about getting started with a new computer. A third dealt with an easy-to-fix software glitch planted by ON. An ON reporter called the help lines at three different points in the day, during peak and off-peak hours and rated the companies based on “average hold time, length of phone call and quality of service.”
ON editors had “one great experience” with Compaq’s tech support, but otherwise experienced “long holds and lack of results.” Dell lacked efficiency. ON editors were “frustrated” after having been kept on the phone for over an hour “for an eight minute fix.” Toshiba “just made the grade, thanks to short wait times and the monitor help.” And IBM was given the honor of the “ideal tech support call.”
“Despite all the training and market research, and the hundreds of millions of dollars that computer manufacturers pour into tech support annually, we still encountered the endless hold, representatives who used intimidating gobbledygook and most important, problems that remained unsolved.”