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Tech Support Showdown 2010

Your notebook is only as good as the help you receive when something goes wrong.


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Samsung

SamsungĀ Tech Support Results
Hold Time Minimum<1 minute
Hold Time Maximum>1
Average Call Length10
Phone Grade 2010B+
Web Grade 2010D-
Overall Grade 2010C
Overall Grade 2009*B
Overall Grade 2008N/A

800-726-7864
www.samsung.com/us/support

On Samsung's support page customers can find or request service, search for support questions by product, or drill down queries by product category. The main section of each page is a tabbed area that separates support into downloads, FAQs, how-to guides, troubleshooting, and more. After we clicked on the computing product category, context windows led us to choose our product type and model number, bringing up a page specific to our notebook.

Though we found the downloads tab useful, searching for answers to our support queries in the FAQs tab was frustrating and ultimately didn't result in any solutions. That's because even though we searched from within a notebook-specific page, the search engine delivered results for all of Samsung's products: notebooks, ovens, phones, refrigerators, etc. Searching for solutions to a slow boot time returned FAQs for "Dryer Control Panel And Functions" and "What To Do If Your Ice Maker Is Not Working Properly." Getting more specific, there were no results for the term HomeGroup, and only results pertaining to Windows Vista when we searched for "file sharing".

The how-to guides section was more useful, with entries clearly tailored for notebooks--but not always our specific model. For instance, there were several Windows XP or Vista guides even though the laptop page we were on was for a Windows 7 machine. We were unable, however, to find the answer to any of our support questions in six pages of how-tos.

Samsung doesn't have a live chat feature in its support area, but there are chances for customers to ask questions in real time. The Samsung Product Support TV (SPSTV) area hosts a live video stream on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. (EST) where users can ask questions live about featured products. SPSTV covers a wide range of devices, from camcorders to dryers to notebooks. Users can also watch previously aired shows online. Though this isn't as useful as live web support, and there are currently very few episodes pertaining to notebooks, it does provide some live help for consumers.

Phone support was a completely different story. Similar to the last time we tested Samsung, we were through the phone tree and talking to a real person in under a minute the first two times we called. During an afternoon chat, Douglas in South Carolina was happy to help us get our notebook booting faster. He offered multiple suggestions, including eliminating unnecessary startup items and deleting files in the Temp folder. He stayed on the line with us as the computer rebooted and provided a transaction number in case we needed to call back. Overall, the call took just 6 minutes.

We called later in the week at 9:33 p.m. (EST), just half an hour before phone support closed for the day. We asked Jason, also in South Carolina, how to share files between multiple computers with Windows 7. He didn't seem to know about HomeGroup, and instead walked us through sharing our C drive with other computers on the network--a more complex process. He also admitted this was the first time he'd had to walk a customer through these steps, and was clearly reading from a step-by-step guide on his own computer. Still, he was patient, courteous, and friendly throughout the process.

Our last call was at 2 p.m. on a weekday, and it didn't go as well. After a wait of 8 minutes and 30 seconds, Charlie informed us that his system was running very slow, and he seemed very out of sorts. While he waited for the information pertaining to our phone number to come up, he attempted to help us change our power options. However, the rep struck us as surly the entire time, and seemed unwilling to walk us through anything but the most basic of steps. When we asked if "sleep" was the same thing as "hibernate," he incorrectly told us that it was. Even with the 8-plus-minute hold time, the call lasted less than 13 minutes.

At the beginning of each call the representatives asked us for several bits of personal information--such as our street address, e-mail, and phone number--that they didn't need in order to verify the warranty. For the most part, they remained polite even when we chose not to provide this information.

Despite the mediocre help provided on our third call, overall we were pleased with Samsung's phone tech support. The line was always clear, the representatives knowledgeable and friendly, and wait times minimal. However, the web support needs a major overhaul.

* 2009 testing was performed in January 2010

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