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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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Fujitsu

Fujitsu Tech Support Results
Hold Time Minimum<1 minute
Hold Time Maximum3
Average Call Length12
Phone Grade 2010C+
Web Grade 2010D+
Overall Grade 2010C
Overall Grade 2009B-
Overall Grade 2008D+

800-838-5487
www.fujitsu.com/us/support

Fujitsu's support site wasn't of much use to us. Although Fujitsu claims to have beefed up its FAQs, the list of topics for our particular notebook were a motley bunch; they didn't contain answers to any of the three questions we ultimately asked, which addressed  such non-catastrophes as making a computer boot faster or last longer on a charge. You can't even properly search the tech support site, as the search bar encompasses everything--not just Fujitsu's tech support section. That, more than anything, makes the site particularly user-unfriendly. However, the company has made looking up warranty information on the site easier.

Getting through the introductory message for Fujitsu's phone support took 38 seconds, and upon calling in the mid-afternoon we only had to wait 4 seconds before speaking with Earl in the Philippines. During our 13-minute call he spent 2 minutes taking down our serial number, part number, name, address, e-mail address, and phone number, noting where we purchased the machine. In answer to our question about making our LifeBook P3010 boot faster, he swiftly directed us to msconfig, where one can stop ancillary programs from running at startup.

The problem is, Earl initially instructed us to disable everything not branded with Fujitsu, meaning if we took his advice literally we would have disabled key components of our notebook, such as the graphics card and touchpad. When we ran down the list, though, asking if we could delete those components, he quickly warned us not to. After we disabled non-critical programs and restarted the computer, he put us on hold for more than 3 minutes, only to say we were finished a moment later.

Our second call to tech support, placed in the evening, lasted 14 minutes (we held 40 seconds before speaking with Regina in the Philippines). After 3 minutes of doling out our information, we were put on hold for another 2 minutes. It wasn't until 11 minutes into the call that she suggested we create a HomeGroup, which is, in fact, the only native way to wirelessly share files with other Windows 7 laptops on the same network. Even then, she didn't make it clear how HomeGroup users could see each others' files.

In our final phone call, placed at 2:15 p.m. (EST), Fred from the Philippines picked up after 7 seconds and similarly took almost 3 minutes to record our system and contact info. When we asked how to maximize our netbook's battery life, he helpfully directed us toward power options in the Control Panel.

The tone of our call changed over the next 7 minutes, however. The Fujitsu rep grew increasingly exasperated as we tried to explain that we weren't sure what adjustments to make within the Power Settings menu. Getting him to walk through each of the (non-advanced) settings and either agree with the default or make recommendations was like pulling teeth. Moreover, like other Fujitsu representatives we spoke with, he repeatedly asked us to describe what we saw on-screen; we feel he should have told us what to look for.

While Fujitsu's technical support team provided mostly accurate information and, with one exception, friendly service, we might award the brand a higher rating if it would reduce or outright cut all of the scripted information-taking that begins each call. Better yet, make it possible for users to search the technical support site using keywords, even helping one another in forums. Finally, we suggest that the technicians have Windows 7 running in front of them so that they can describe what the user should be seeing instead of asking them to paint a picture.

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