Tech Support Showdown 2015: Who Wins, Who Loses

  • MORE

Sure, searching Google and YouTube is often helpful for finding answers to your technical problems. But your laptop manufacturer offers tech support, and you should be able to count on it for accurate answers. Based on our extensive undercover testing online and over the phone, Apple emerged as the clear winner for the second time in a row. Microsoft, a newcomer to our Tech Support Showdown with its Surface line, was an impressive runner-up.

We take a comprehensive approach to rating the 10 major laptop brands. Do the support teams know their stuff? Are they pushy about selling you something? Does it take forever to get an answer? If talking on the phone isn't your thing, there's the company website and the possibility of live chat. Most brands will even give you help over Facebook or Twitter, although you shouldn't always expect a timely response.

This year, we noted a general trend toward online-only or online-focused support and away from traditional phone service. In fact, in some cases, the only way to get an answer (or, in some cases, a correct answer) to a question was to go online. Plus, Windows 10 upgrades seem to have thrown some companies for a loop, causing hiccups in the support we received from more than one company.  

Who Wins, Who Loses?

1st Place: Apple

Once again, we found that Apple offers the best tech support in the business. The company's knowledgeable and energetic representatives offered quick and accurate help via prescheduled phone calls as well as live chat. The comprehensive online support pages for specific devices further point to why Apple earned the highest rating. Jumping in on the social front would be helpful, but overall, the company's help is second to none.

2nd Place: Microsoft

Other Windows PC makers could learn a thing or two from Microsoft and the way it offers support for the Surface line. While it was clear that the company prefers customers to seek answers online rather than over the phone, the representatives we interacted with were quick, friendly and accurate. Now, if the callback program improves its time management, the company may give Apple a real run for its money.

3rd Place: Samsung

While the pool of laptop tech support resources is shrinking, Samsung still beats many of its competitors in terms of depth and breadth. Calls were relatively quick and accurate, and the live chat system was very helpful. Plus, the company has even created its own loyalty-style program that translates to a tiered tech support system.

How We Tested

The Laptop Mag staff doesn't conduct its undercover testing with the goal of stumping a brand; we simply want to gauge the customer experience for ourselves. Armed with three questions (two general and one specific to the brand), we looked for quick and friendly assistance through various channels, as well as a breadth of knowledge.

We sought answers to "How do I set up Hey Cortana," and "How do I change the direction of scrolling on my touchpad?" Then, we tried to find an answer to a question uniquely tailored to each brand. For example, we asked Samsung how to use SideSync software to transfer files from a phone to a laptop over Wi-Fi. For Apple we asked the same touchpad question, but followed up with managing photos in iCloud Photo Library and silencing a single tab in Safari while letting audio play in another. We explored each company's website for answers to these questions, looking for ease of navigation and live chat options. If brands offered any other Web-based help, we tried that, too. We also conducted three phone calls at various times of the day.

MORE: The Best Laptops for Every Need

Because asking for help is inherently social, we also turned to Facebook and Twitter to seek assistance. While it is true that neither service is part of a company's warranty coverage, the average consumer has started to expect some level of attention through these channels.

Online support is quickly becoming the way to get assistance, with page views on company support sites and forums outweighing the frequency of phone calls. As such, we weighted our grades to favor online and social forms of support (60 out of 100 possible points) more heavily than phone support (40 out of 100 possible points).

Does your experience with your laptop brand line up with our experience? Do you have a tech support horror story to tell? Sound off in the comments, or message us on Twitter @laptopmag.

Tech Support Showdown

Add a comment
  • Amanda Fairchild Says:

    Need laptop only for emails, perusing web and some word processing. Will laptop with 2 GB suffice?
    Thank you.

  • Wayne Hughes Says:

    Great Article; The information provided about tech support will definitely help me decide on my next PC. Now if you could just tell us what portion of the tech support was US based that would be great.

  • Joss W. Says:

    DELL is 7th, but are so bad they shouldn't have made the list!

  • vijaya sunkara Says:

    Can you please let me know when a similar tech support review report for 2016 will be available?

  • Iqbal quresh Says:

    I m searching for a good budget laptop.. i wil b a loght user nt much work. As m college student i may play some games though nt often. Please suggest me 1 asap. I hv to order in 1/2 days. N lastly, which 1 is bettr between AMD A8 processor n intel core i3(5th gen)?

  • John R. Says:

    I've personally dealt with HP, Apple, and Dell...and a few others no longer in the market. I have to say I fully agree that Apple is hands-down the best I've ever dealt with!

  • Pushpendra sharma Says:

    Hi, i want to buy a laptop in range of 20000 to 25000. Please any body can suggest which is best laptop in this price . I am not known about its features plz suggest which company which model will good in this price . Only my normal personal use.

  • Jim Beaman Says:

    I ordered & received a Dell lap top for my wife for Christmas. The box came sealed, so I figured everything was ok. When she opened the box Christmas morning There was no power cord supplied with the lap top! What do you do about that?

  • HeyBuddy UpYours Says:

    Why is it that MSI has a 5 minute phone wait time ranked 10th, yet other companies have much longer waits, such as Dell ranked 7th at 40 minutes, Lenogo ranked 5th at 27 minutes, & HP ranked 4th at 33:18. Is our time valued so little that we must dig through forums & websites in hopes to figure out what's wrong with our computer, assuming it even works when we need it? LaptopMag, you need to get your priorities in order.

  • kevon Says:

    I don't think this website is a creditable source for reviews and guiding customers in purchasing a laptop that is durable and supportive. I have read the review and it is bias these reviews seem to dislike some manufacture. And we as the backbone (users)this website need to ensure that a stop is put to this situation

  • Paul v Says:

    I wish I had read your article before I bought a Toshiba laptop. Can't get internet connected so can not access online tututorials. Phone support barely speak English and still not able to resolve issue.

  • Rukidding Says:

    LOL That's rigged for sure, seems someone wanted a free apple mac!

  • joyce howard Says:

    my desktop is less than 2 yr,s old , it stoped working. ipurchased a recovery usb as advised it did not budge, tech support could not help,

  • Anna Attkisson, Laptop Mag & Tom's Guide Managing Editor Says:

    We make 3 separate calls at different times of day.

  • Jessica Fritsche Says:

    I was wondering how many times you call each company to get these averages. Thanks!

Back to top