MSI Tech Support Rating
Known for making gaming laptops, MSI's grade in last year's Tech Support Showdown was less than stellar. The brand squeaked by with a lousy score of 71.25, but wowed us with its very speedy phone support.
MSI started life as a manufacturer of video cards, motherboards and other computer parts, and those roots are very apparent in the company's approach to tech support. There's an unspoken expectation of computer literacy from its customers, and many of the excellent tutorials and FAQs in the online support section use terminology that isn't for newbies.
MSI currently provides support online and over the phone. The brand backs each device with a 1-year warranty, and there’s an option to extend it by 3 months by registering your product online. However, the support we received was barely passable.
We used the MSI WS60 to find answers to three questions. We asked how to activate Hey Cortana and how to reverse scrolling direction on the touchpad, as we did with all the PC manufacturers. Then we asked how to adjust the fan speed on our MSI.
Web and Social Support
MSI doesn’t make the best first impression with its online support. You're required to fill out a tedious questionnaire before you can even register the device you own. Questions include why you purchased your device and how much you'd want to spend on a computer. The latter query didn't make too much sense as I was attempting to register an MSI WS60 I already had in my possession.
Nevertheless, the promise of "faster customer service" included with registration and the extended warranty seemed intriguing. Once I'd finished registering the product, I got hit with yet another questionnaire that was so curious about my purchasing habits I was muttering "calm down" to myself. Two questionnaires with 10-plus questions each seems a little extreme for something as simple as product registration.
The "faster customer service" didn't even materialize. I submitted a request for help adjusting the fan speeds on my device and still hadn't received a response 48 hours later. That's distressing because that's the only way to get one-on-one customer service online. There is no direct email or chat function. In a world of instant gratification, MSI’s substandard online service is glaring.
Following the link for Facebook support led me to nothing more than a reskinned version of the primary MSI support page. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I reached out to the brand via Twitter. Although it isn't advertised as an avenue of support, I did get a detailed solution to my question regarding activating "Hey Cortana" on a Windows 10 device within 7 hours.
I didn't experience any disappointment in the area of "do-it-yourself" tech support. MSI features a robust series of FAQs, instructional videos and active forums. The company seems to be catering to the enthusiasts who have no problem firing off some command line or digging into the guts of the computers they own. Some of the best help to be found from MSI is on its forums, where helpful MSI fans will pop in almost immediately to supply solutions to any computer problem you might have.
It’s also a much less vitriolic place than other computer forums. The MSI staff and fans seem to intermingle with a kind of utopic gregariousness and are all eager to help one another and any errant MSI owner who stumbles in.
And they will stumble. I had to click on three different "Forums" labels on three different pages before I was taken to the actual forums. It's a shame that one of MSI's best support features is so well hidden.
My relationship with MSI phone support didn't start off as well as I hoped. MSI offers phone support for only 12 hours each day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. And yet my first two calls — at 9:09 a.m. and 9:20 a.m. — went unanswered. The first call resulted in a message asking me to call back during business hours. The second call featured a minute-and-a-half spiel about MSI's business hours and how much they care for me as a customer. The actual menu came at the very end of the message, but when I pressed "1" to speak to a representative I was stuck listening to a phone ringing. After a minute and a half of that I hung up.
MORE: Best MSI Laptops
Call number three was the charm. Once again, I sat through the minute-and-a-half spiel, but this time I was immediately connected with a lovely young man who didn't give me a name. I asked him why saying "Hey Cortana" didn’t produce results on my computer. He immediately had his suspicions but first politely guided me through the steps necessary to see what version of Windows I had on my device. He then informed me that my device had shipped with the Cortana-less Window 7 and offered to check and see if my device was eligible for support from MSI’s Windows 10 staff — who would guide me through the process of upgrading and getting Cortana running. From dial tone to solution (including the minute-and-a-half message), it took just 3 minutes and 58 seconds.
I called the next day at 9:34 a.m. ET in the hopes that MSI would teach me how to set up reverse scrolling on my MSI laptop's touchpad. I wisely figured out that pressing "1" during the minute-and-a-half message let me skip it entirely, and I was quickly connected to Sid, who sounded a little confused by my request and maybe a little sleepy (the call center is in California, where it was just 6:34 a.m.). Yet Sid was also very patient, and once he understood the problem, he solved it in just 3 minutes and 18 seconds.
My final call was with Michael at 11:59 a.m. ET. I was put on hold for 4 minutes before I was connected with him. I'd called to find out how to adjust the fan speeds on my laptop. After looking up my model type, the MSI rep explained to me that my system was the rare MSI device that lacked fan control. I then asked him how to control the lights on my keyboard, and his response was immediate and helpful. All in all, the call took 8 minutes to be completed.
MSI has always been a company that caters to enthusiasts, and its focused tech support really reflects that. The active user who can dig into his or her computer or scroll through MSI's forums will have a satisfactory experience. And once you get them on the phone, MSI's phone technicians are courteous, easy to understand and helpful. Yet a more casual computer user will need more than 12 hours of tech support and forums where there's no guarantee of a response and they’ll be frustrated by the complete lack of live chat. If you're not certain of the difference between the RAM and the hard drive on your computer, than this brand might not be for you.