August 14, 2006 9:00 PM PDT

PC users can't get no satisfaction

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U.S. consumers were more satisfied with their PCs during the last year than they have been in more than a decade, but they're still happier with their car dealers than their computer suppliers.

A study released Tuesday by the University of Michigan shows that overall satisfaction increased by 4.1 percent on Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index to a rating of 77, the highest achieved by the industry since 1994. But customers still rate PCs lower than several other consumer product categories, including cars and appliances.

"The thing with customer service is to make sure you don't need it," said Claes Fornell, a professor at the University of Michigan and the head of the ACSI. Even though servicing a car or dishwasher can induce the same kinds of headaches as PC technical support does, car and appliance makers have done a better job of simplifying their products and reducing the amount of maintenance needed to keep their products going, while PC users continue to flood help lines when faced with complicated problems, he said.

Apple Computer led the pack among computer individual vendors with a rating of 83, a 2.5 percent improvement over last year's score. Dell, under siege all year for its customer service problems, rebounded from 2005, improving its score by 5.4 percent to 78.

Dell is going "back to basics" to try to win customers over again, Fornell said. The company led the ACSI's PC company rankings for several years until around 2004, when Apple passed it. The ACSI measured consumer opinion during the second quarter, when Dell was just starting to roll out new programs designed to improve its support, and it will be interesting to see if the moves pay off in next year's results, he said.

The ACSI also rated e-business companies such as Google, Yahoo and AOL. Google has a strong lead over all other search engines with a score of 81. That was actually down a little bit from last year, but no other search provider made a run at Google during 2006. Google is the most widely used search engine, followed by Yahoo and MSN, according to comScore Networks.

Yahoo fell four points to 76 after challenging Google's lead last year. Fornell thought that Yahoo's breadth of online products might be too confusing for consumers and advertisers. "Yahoo tries to be perhaps too many things, it's not quite as focused as Google."

Yahoo took issue with the index's conclusions, saying that other metrics point to increased satisfaction among its users. "Yahoo is the only major Internet company to have its average time spent per user increase every quarter over the past year...In addition, total unique visitors, page views, minutes spent and average usage days per visitor on the Yahoo home page have all increased since we launched our new design (according to comScore)," the company said in a statement.

AOL continued to improve its ratings after it was ranked very poorly in 2000, the first year Michigan ranked this category. "It was lower than the IRS" (Internal Revenue Service) that year, Fornell joked. AOL is now tied with MSN on the consumer satisfaction ratings with a score of 74, behind Google and Yahoo.

See more CNET content tagged:
ComScore, satisfaction, Yahoo! Inc., Michigan, America Online Inc.


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Satisfied - No HP Customer Service Needed
>"The thing with customer service is to make sure you don't need it,"<

My 2002 HP desktop computer has been 100% problem free, so I haven't had to deal with customer service.

I try to buy higher-end computers, in the hope that they contain higher quality components, that are less likely to fail.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
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A better way
If you want to buy a "higher quality" computer build your own. As a PC Admin I am aware of the scam by the PC manufacturers that the best computers are built by PC manufacturers or that you will get better service.

A PC snaps together like a tinker toy.

You got lucky a HP has a little better rep than some. However buying a PC from a PC maker is like buying a Yugo car thinking and paying for a luxery car. You have done so because they marketed it that way.

You mention that hope they contain higher quality compontents that are less likely to fail.

Try to get actual specs from a PC maker. You can't. Take the hard drive. All you know is that they put a 60GB Hard Drive in it. You can't get the brand name at the time of purchase because they don't know what it is yet.

They then will market it as "we build you PC after you order it". This is the last thing you want because they will base that on the cheapest they can find in the period you order it.

This is why when you call customer service the first thing they do is get the serial number. With all the different hardware they get they can't possibly give you decent service on the mix and match parts they sold you.

PC's shouldn't be considered a unit. The parts should be. We are not used to buying this way. Combined with the myth that name brand PCs are better, the PC makers have got use right where they want use.

In conclusion. Your not buying a toaster. If you buy from a major PC maker without knowing what is under the hood, your like the little old lady that the car dealer unloads the problem car on. Only every car in the lot is a problem car.

With so many people buying name brand PCs, no one knows any difference.
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
Link Flag
HP not totally clean
I have a 2005 hp and while I'm very satisfied with the hardware and have had no hardware problems, and find it a noticeable improvement over the noisy-fan boxes of 5 years ago, the software continues to be a problem. HP chose to load a lot of third party software whose only purpose seems to be to enable them to take payoffs to fatten the profit margin on the pc, and many of these programs are either unremovable or are actually integrated into the os/updating regime and cause problems. Software is now the problem for pc's: manufacturers need to make a stand and insist that software which is to be included on their pc's will meet some reasonable standards, such as not popping up constant subscription notices and being totally removable, as well as not enabling spyware. While this always brings up the problem of Microsoft as the third party to the transaction, Windows is not usually the culprit. Norton, Roxio, AOL, and a few other smug big players need to be brought to heel...
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
Link Flag
Posted by FIBO239 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Somebody missed the joke!
There's always one, isn't there?
Posted by Hoser McMoose (182 comments )
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freakin' doofus
It's a line from a VERY famous song by a VERY famous band called The Rolling Stones ... perhaps you've heard of them?

Oh, and you **** people off with the ALL CAPS style of writing, so you might wanna learn how to use your Caps Lock key. Here's a good place to get started:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>


Posted by Computer Mang (1 comment )
Link Flag
That is from the rolling Stones.

It is also a joke.

You also need to lighten up on the caps.
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Link Flag

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