PC World Magazine: Dell's Service & Support Tumbles, Apple's Best

PC World magazine has issued a report on service from PC manufacturers, and two things will be of interest to Mac Observers. The first is that #1 PC vendor in terms of revenue and units, Dell Computer, took what PC World described as a "tumble" in the ratings. The second is that Apple was rated the best PC vendor in terms of service and support. The bad news for PC customers everywhere was that service is declining across all of the PC companies as hold times have increased and results have decreased. Apple hasnit been included in past versions of this report, and by definition isnit technically included in that assessment. From the introduction of the report:

Our most recent survey of 29,593 subscribers reveals growing frustration with computer service. Last year, PC World readers told us they were unhappy with technical support. This yearis survey shows little--if any--improvement. Dell, for example, tumbled in service overall--especially in hold times. The other big news: Apple rated higher than any other computer maker.

Overall, just half the people reported hold times of 5 minutes or less; fewer people said their problems were resolved within five days; and in a new measure, only 53 percent said their problem was resolved the first time they called tech support.

The report is filled with incidents of computer support personnel telling people to wipe their hard drives, but a part of the report labeled "Silver Lining," says:

While satisfaction is down overall, there are glimmers of hope. For example, Appleis desktops and IBMis notebooks were rated Good in both computer reliability and service.

Finally, Apple gets another mention in the "Report Card" section:

Report Card: The Best and the Rest
Not a single PC company earned an Outstanding score in this yearis survey, but Big Blue received high marks for both its desktop and its notebook computers. Apple took the top spot in the desktop category, while ABS and Dell were both rated Good overall. Dell did decline on several reliability and service measures, especially in the notebook category (see scores), even though the company retained its Good bottom-line rating. HP and Sony desktops slipped from Good to Fair. On the bright side, discount PC maker Emachines improved its rating to Fair--up from last yearis Poor rating.

The magazine also included a chart with a variety of categories, and ratings for those categories. We broke the very wide chart that was designed for the print magazine into two sections for ease of viewing in a browser. Note that this is an abridged version of the chart that shows 3 of the top 4 rated companies, with the 4th being ABS. Check out the methodology included in the report for more information on these ratings.

CompanyBottom-line scoreOverall
reliability score
service score
Percent of PCs
with problems
per year
on arrival
Dead on arrivalComponent failure

CompanySatisfaction with reliabilityShort hold timeQuick resolutionNo resolutionKnowledgeable tech supportSincere effort by tech supportSatisfaction with serviceComments
AppleFairGoodGoodOutstandingOutstandingOut-standingGoodCustomers are very impressed with Appleis technicians.
IBMFairFairFairGoodGoodGoodFairPCs are solid, but Big Blue gets only lukewarm satisfaction ratings.
DellGoodPoorFairFairGoodGoodFairService tumbles; expect to wait on hold a while.

You can find the full report at PC Worldis Web site.