PC Makers Can't Even Fix Their Own Machines, survey finds

Server destroyed by fire (photo: topato / flickr)Leading PC manufacturers are often unable to resolve problems with the computers they make, according to new research. They were defeated by more than 40 percent of user problems with Windows PCs, US investigators found.

Customers also say they're tearing their hair out over manufacturers' phone support hassles and delays, and that paid technical support is often little better than free service.

In fact, PC owners are significantly more likely to get their problems solved by a third party repair service, such as the Best Buy Geek Squad, than by the original vendor. These findings emerged in a recent user survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center in the US.

Paying for support may not help

On average, PC vendors such as HP, Gateway, Dell, Sony, and Toshiba failed to resolve 41 percent of technical support problems. There was surprisingly little difference between paid and unpaid support, with the latter seeing a 47 percent failure rate.

Geek Squad and similar services were only confounded by 16 percent of issues, but customers apparently paid more, with over half paying over $100, they said.

Apple and Lenovo lead

Apple and Lenovo are 'head and shoulders above other manufacturers' in their paid customer support, the researchers found. Both companies dealt with about 80 percent of issues successfully. Lenovo bought IBM's worldwide PC sales operation last year. As a result, the majority of the company's US support infrastructure was in fact originally established by IBM.

More details at Consumer Reports. The full results of the survey will be published in Consumer Reports magazine's June issue, which is not available online.