Update on Mar 26: Razer informed us there's been no change to their phone support hours, which is 9am to 6pm PST. We previously reported there was a three-hour availability reduction, which is incorrect. However, due to reduced staffing, call times may be higher.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced Google to shut its doors on customers seeking telephone support. Help seekers must rely on the tech giant's online chat or social media support platforms (i.e. Facebook and Twitter). We investigated to see if other brands are taking similar measures.
Every year, Laptop Mag goes undercover to investigate the quality of tech support services offered by 11 laptop brands -- Google included -- in an annual report called Tech Support Showdown. While the Laptop Mag team was working on Tech Support Showdown 2020, we realized that Google has paused its phone support due to the company's coronavirus-affected workforce.
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"Due to recent current events, phone support is not available at this time. Please reach out to our team through online chat (select “Contact Us” at the top of any support article), Twitter Direct Message, or Facebook Messenger," Google wrote on its Pixelbook help page.
This led us to ask, "Are the other laptop brands following suit?" The short answer is: sort of.
As of this writing, Google is the only brand that has fully shutdown its telephone tech support, but other brands -- namely Samsung, HP and Asus -- were transparent about their reduction in hours due to COVID-19.
"Samsung is working to support you and keep our staff safe. Because of this, our phone hours of operation have changed to 9 AM - 6 PM EST, 7 days a week," Samsung wrote on its Contact Us page. Last we checked, Samsung had 24/7 phone support.
Visiting HP's Customer Support page begets a pop up that announces a similar message. HP's phone support hours are currently Monday through Friday, 8am - 8pm EST and Saturday, 9am - 8pm EST. HP previously had a longer phone-support availability slot for all seven days of the week. The page encouraged HP customers to use its digital solutions for faster service.
Asus also updated its hours, stating, "With the recent developments across the globe, our support via telephone may be reduced or you may experience longer than usual hold times." We discovered that Asus shaved 5 hours off its weekday phone-support availability and two hours from their Saturday slot. They're usually open on Sundays, too, but for now, COVID-19 has impeded this.
On Razer's website, the laptop manufacturer announced that COVID-19 may affect some of its services, but did not specify which offerings would suffer setbacks. A Razer spokesperson clarified its website's statement in an e-mail to Laptop Mag: "The [Razer phone support] team has informed me that the hours are exactly the same and have not been reduced, however call times are expected to be higher due to reduced staffing."
Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Huawei, Lenovo and MSI did not explicitly state that their tech-support phone services were affected by COVID-19. We double-checked to see if we could speak to a customer service agent via telephone, and all six brands were operating despite the effects of coronavirus on the global workforce.