Who delivers the best tech support?

LOS ANGELES Computer tech support is getting better, but not by much. Even so, Consumer Reports' National Research Center surveyed thousands of computer owners and found the best and the worst tech support.

One 14-year-old we talked to has been fixing computers for his family and neighbors for years.

"It's kind of annoying. Every single time anyone has a problem, they won't even try it by themselves. They'll just automatically go to you for help," said the boy, who did not give his name.

If you don't have a tech wiz in your family, Consumer Reports can help. Its National Research Center surveyed 10,000 owners of computers about their experience with tech support.

"Our survey found the worst ways to get tech support were from their manufacturers' Web sites and e-mail support," said Rosalind Tordesillas from Consumer Reports.

Tech support in general wasn't very helpful.

"In our survey, manufacturer's tech support solved the problem only about 60 percent of the time," said Tordesillas.

Compaq and HP's tech support was generally worse. The best by far was from Apple, although it's only free for 90 days. For laptops, Lenovo's tech support was also quite good.

"With most companies, you can pay extra for 'premium' plans that extend both tech support and the repair warranty. But we found they're usually not worth it," said Tordesillas.

However, the survey did find an exception to this. With Dell and Gateway, the Premium Priority Service was a lot better than their regular tech support.

That said, requests for help won't slow down anytime soon for the tech-savvy teen we spoke too.


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