Is Acer Customer Service Good? 2018 Rating
Acer’s support services were among the best last year, but top-ranking service is hard to maintain, and Acer’s various channels for help didn’t live up to our expectations this year. While live support personnel were always courteous and every avenue for assistance was eventually responsive, the support experience was plagued with incomplete answers and uninformed personnel.
|Acer Tech Support|
|Overall||Web Score||Phone Score||Avg Call Time||Phone Number||Web Support|
|Phone Hours (ET): 24/7|
Acer's support services still boast a useful self-help website -- Acer Answers -- and you can reach support representatives via phone, email, live webchat and even through Facebook and Twitter. Many of these options, including phone service, are available 24/7 during the initial warranty period, and at no point was I pressured to use a paid support service or upsold on subscription services or new hardware.
But despite the numerous venues for support, I ran into some problems. Major issues like the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities were entirely foreign to every representative I asked. What's more, I was repeatedly given poor or inadequate advice on the topic, and in one case was promised assistance that never came.
Web and Social Media Support
Given Acer's strong performance last year, I wanted to see how well it handled my most difficult support question: "How do I protect my laptop from Meltdown and Spectre?"
Unfortunately, Acer Answers – the primary source for finding your own tech-support answers – didn't have much to say on the matter. Simply asking my question as phrased pulled up a forum link where someone else asked a similar question and never got a satisfactory answer.
Adjusting my query to search for just Meltdown, I found a single help article that addressed the new vulnerability. That one article explains a bit about the actual problems and why they pose a security risk, but the guidance on how to protect oneself was lacking in a big way: There are no links to available software updates or patches, just some discussion of which Acer models are affected and whether a patched BIOS version is available. Notably absent are any links to these patches, with no discussion of other updates to firmware or drivers.
If there are patches available from Acer to protect customers from Meltdown and Spectre, I was unable to find them using the provided support tool.
Acer's web chat opens with an estimated wait time, which told me the average wait for a representative was 2 minutes and 56 seconds. I had to wait only 15 seconds before Oscar C. got on the line to help me find answers to my questions. He kicked things off by confirming my laptop model (an Acer Swift 3) and serial number, and then gathering my name and phone number.
Oscar did his best to be helpful, but directed me to an article on Acer’s site that addresses a different Intel security flaw. The article did offer me firmware and driver patches for a similar-sounding Intel Management Engine issue, but not for the specific issues of Meltdown and Spectre I had asked about. This confusion might be understandable, since I didn’t catch the confusion myself until doing further research several days later, but one would hope that Acer’s own support personnel could share solutions to the issues you ask about.
When I asked a follow-up question about some of the information on the site – what the difference was between the listed links to firmware and the driver updates – he couldn't tell me which was which. He did tell me that I needed to install both, so I suppose I would have ended up properly protected (though not from the vulnerabilities I had asked about), if not very well-informed. He took a full 10 minutes to find an answer to this question.
Next, I decided to try Acer's social media channels to see if they could offer answers to this same question. I also asked a simple support question through Facebook, to the AcerUSA account. I submitted my question at 1:42pm on a weekday, asking how to enable Cortana and set it to respond to the “Hey Cortana” trigger phrase. I sent the question through Facebook Messenger.
I got a response after more than an hour (1:09), which gave me a link to Acer’s support pages, directing me to a general search for Cortana. The results page did offer articles addressing my problem, but I was left to my own devices to figure out which was which.
Reaching out to Acer through Twitter was an exercise in frustration. My question was simple, asking how to turn the keyboard backlight on and off for my Acer Swift 3 laptop. I made sure to specify my model of laptop in order to reduce any confusion about the answer. I sent my question to the @AcerAmerica account shortly before 12:00 MST, expecting a quick, succinct response within a few minutes.
I didn’t get a response for nearly four hours, and the response I got was barely helpful: A handful of links to the Acer Support site -- the language selection page, not the main help page -- along with a separate link for Chromebook assistance (which my Windows laptop didn’t need) and a link to the “Contact Acer” page to reach support via phone or live chat. At no point did they offer any solution for my problem, despite the solution being a simple keyboard shortcut.
Every phone call to customer support puts you through to an automated answering system before forwarding you on to a human support rep. Before moving you along to the help process, the system asks you to enter a 12-digit SNID, a unique identifier for the laptop or other device. After your initial call to the support line, the system will recognize your phone number and ask if you're calling about the same device, shortening the process by a few moments.
Afterward, the system asks you to speak a short phrase to explain your problem. The automated system is usually pretty quick at diagnosing what sort of problem you want to get help with, narrowing down the issue from a voice prompt to issues of hardware, software, devices and other options. This process usually takes only a minute or two.
In my first call, I spoke to a woman named Amber. I asked her for guidance in enabling Cortana on my Acer laptop, and how I could make Cortana respond to the "Hey Cortana" voice prompt. The rep misunderstood me at first, and thought I wanted to disable the function. Thankfully, she gave me an opportunity to clarify.
After about 5 minutes on hold, Amber returned. She then walked me through a Windows shortcut to open Cortana, and then showed me where the settings could be found to link Cortana to my Windows account. Although this did let me access Cortana, it did not necessarily answer my question about enabling the feature long term, or enabling the "Hey Cortana" voice prompt.
The entire call lasted 12 minutes and 42 seconds.
For my second call, I asked for help turning the backlight on my keyboard on and off. While this is a simple problem, Acer's use of dedicated function keys labeled only with small (sometimes inscrutable) icons makes it a reasonable concern for any customer. The representative I spoke to had a strong accent, and I think she said her name was Katya, but it was somewhat difficult to understand her.
After telling her my question and verifying my 12-digit SNID, she put me on hold for 2 minutes. Then she walked me through the dedicated function keys of the laptop, showing me how to use the Function key and F9 to toggle the keyboard backlight on and off. It was quick and simple, and was done within a span of about a minute. The whole call took 6:56.
My third and final call to phone support was made around 9 o'clock in the evening on a weekday. I posed the most difficult question on this call, asking how to protect my laptop from the recently discovered Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. I expected this call to last longer than others and to be more involved, simply due to the nature of the request and what I knew about the solution. I was prepared for that, but it seems the support system was not.
The automated system couldn't figure out what I was referring to by Spectre and Meltdown. No matter how many times I said "I want to protect my laptop from Spectre and Meltdown," it would ask me to confirm entirely unrelated requests. "Did you say, 'I'm having trouble connecting to the internet?'" No, I did not. "Is this a problem with your keyboard, mouse or webcam?" Nope.
After several incorrect attempts to figure out what I needed, it kicked me over to a live person.
When I got a human on the line, it wasn't much better. My customer-service rep, Junior, did his best to be helpful, but he clearly had no idea what Spectre and Meltdown were. I got put on hold for the usual "2 minutes," but my hold time stretched well past the 2-minute mark. Six minutes later, he came back on the line.
When he returned, he at least had some idea of what I was talking about, but he struggled to explain the need for software and BIOS updates. In the end, he said he would email me instructions for solving my problem.
He took my email address, and then the line went silent. At 12 minutes and 31 seconds into the call, I got cut off, effectively ending the call a bit prematurely. In other phone- support experiences I've had, service reps called back to re-establish contact or confirm that the call has ended. In this case, I waited for several minutes and received no call.
More important, I never received an email, even though I had provided my email address, and multiple helpful articles can be found on Acer's customer-support pages.
Acer protects the majority of its laptops and tablets with a standard one-year warranty, but some products -- such as Acer's Predator gaming products or TravelMate business laptops -- may come with a two- or three-year warranty instead. So make sure you check what the warranty period is for your own product before writing off a 13-month-old product.
Whenever I called support services for my test laptop (which I had not purchased myself), I was asked for a purchase date, which I was unable to provide. Offering up that it was a gift to me, the reps consistently determined that the laptop was under warranty, with one rep helpfully telling me how many months I had left on my warranty coverage. You can also look up this information online through Acer's website to determine whether your device is still covered.
Extended warranties can also be purchased to stretch the coverage an additional one, two or three years. For my Swift 3 laptop, a one-year extension costs $59.99, a two-year plan sells for $89.99 and a three-year plan goesfor $129.99.
You can also get this coverage with an additional accident-protection plan: a two-year warranty with accident-protection plan costs $139.99, while a three-year plan with added accident protection costs $189.99. Be sure to scroll through all of your warranty options when buying an extended plan, since they aren't presented in a straightforward order.
Ultimately, Acer's tech-support options flip-flopped between helpful and frustratingly useless. Granted, we did approach them with some difficult questions, but given that Spectre and Meltdown are some of the biggest security holes known, it should stand to reason that tech- support personnel would at least have heard of these problems and be able to find the related support materials for these sorts of questions. Instead, we got reps who fumbled answers when presented with the topic; who were inconsistent in supplying support materials in response, and, in one case, who failed completely to follow through in providing help.