PC Advisor & ConsumerWatch

  ChewyDewy 08:57 17 Feb 03
Locked

I would like to propose to PC Advisor to put each of the top 10 PC manufacturing companies to the test on their after sales and servicing.

Every month we see reviews on the latest technology comparing numerous products but it has been a long long time since I can remember a magazine performing an objective and unbiased review on what happens when a consumer has problems with their PC.

For example:
How easy to contact technical support
Standard of quality on PC purchased
etc.
etc.

  Goldcroft 09:37 17 Feb 03

What a good idea ChewyDewy. I believe that TV progs and the Consumer Association does the same thing with cars which are rated for faults, breakdowns etc in a set period of ownership.

I would also like to see more effort into testing out running costs of printers in reviews. With a set of replacement ink cartridges costing sometimes more than the printer surely this is essential.

  PCA ed 10:11 17 Feb 03

The CA is a charity and receives money from the government; ditto the beeb (I assume you're referring to watchdog)in the form of tv licences.

But if people are happy to pay another £40 a month for PCA, I'll happily employ an army of researchers, in the same way the CA and BBC do, to make all the calls and spend 3 months working with every PC we test (except the PCs wil be out of date then, which is the problem the CA has).

Seriously guys, I'd love to run reviews of customer service, but I don't know of any media organisation that can do this monthly without heavy subsidy.

PCA does it anually in the customer satisfaction survey click here

  PCA ed 10:15 17 Feb 03

sorry folks, that should have been
click here

  Theonewhowatchesoveryou 11:39 17 Feb 03

PCA ed.

should'nt that be 2 n's in anually??

  Stuartli 11:52 17 Feb 03

The Consumer Association is absolutely and completely independent and has been since being formed in 1957; it buys the products it tests, including such items as cars, in the same way as any normal customer and even negotiates discounts if it can.

There is no Government support; I cannot understand how you have made this assumption.

It takes no advertisements or accepts products for testing (unlike the Press).

You are right about the BBC in that it is a public service, but I occasionally think that it goes way over the top with some of its Watchdog items.

  ChewyDewy 12:29 17 Feb 03

I would not and do not expect any magazine to perform a manufacturer review every month. BUT with all the PCs that are received from manufacturers how many work out of the box? How difficult would it be to quantify any problems concerning the PCs received for review?

A number of years ago, a PC magazine using individuals (I cannot remember which one) 'purchased' a number of PCs to identify the quality of after sales service. I remember Gateway and Dell as being at least two manufacturers involved.

The individuals, on the magazines behalf, contacted the various companies technical support and then rated them. I found this very useful and purchased my Dell on this basis. A decision I didn't regret as I needed their help because of a faulty graphics card.

Any survey is only as good as the questions posed and one question I saw missing was...

"How long did you wait on the telephone before it was answered?"

etc., etc.

  Yorkie_Dave 12:33 17 Feb 03

Use the Internet Also for shopping (esp Computer Hardware & Software) to make sure that we are getting a right deal, The VAT etc that we are paying is going to the right place... Also keep a eye on these companys that keep opening and closing with the same people involved...

And Finaly... Make sure that a Company that wins a award is fit the next month to have the award

Regards YorkieDave

  Goldcroft 12:35 17 Feb 03

Stuartli is right about the CA and the PCA editor is wrong. As far as the BBC goes, I was thinking more about Top Gear which does such reliability comparisons occasionally based on returns from its viewers.

I understand the PCA editor's point about checking every machine, but surely there is a way, via its readers and independent engineers, of conducting such a survey (say quarterly) on reliability and customer service. After all, customer service does not vary much from model to model, but is part of a company's overall policy.

I really don't want to be unfair to any editor, but I am a journalistic realist and suspect that it might not be too easy to castigate an advertiser who takes 10 to 20 pages per issue. Certainly there was such a problem on a local newspaper I worked for many years ago when it was common knowledge that it was the manager/advertising manager who often took precedence over the editor on editorial matters where a large advertiser was concerned.

  PCA ed 14:56 17 Feb 03

Stuartli - the CA is a not-for-profit organisation; it doesn't pay corporate tax. I'd call that a pretty BIG government subsidy. It has 78 researchers in the UK alone, and hundreds if you count it's pan-European affiliates.

Yes it buys the products it tests. But is currently in a quandry about the fact that the PCs it tests are off sale before it can publish the results. I know this because I'm in touch regularly with the editors of the reports.

PCA tests machines that are about to come on sale. If you want reviews of stuff that's 6 months old, PCA is not the mag to read.

and btw - <annually> - if you're going to start correcting typos or grammar on this forum you'll have your work cut for you.

Chewydewy - <e individuals, on the magazines behalf, contacted the various companies technical support and then rated them.>
That's the basis of the customer satisfaction survey, but we suvey thousands of customers not just a few, so it's more statistically accurate.

Last year's survey was over 80 questions long and took 30min to complete. People moaned, so we cut it down. Some questions had to go.

Goldcroft - customer service varies wildly from customer to customer. No company sets out with the strategy of bad customer service it would go out of business if it did. I talk to dozens of companies and thousands of customers in the course of a year, so I think I've got a pretty good idea.

Ad sales and reviews are entirely separate. How many times do I have to say that here? If you think we give advertisers an easy ride in reviews, ask the people who send us the machines - Mesh, Evesham, Higrade, Multivision, Dell, PC World, Time. Ask them if they think they get an easy ride in Consumerwatch, or from these forums.

Customer support and service is a very subjective issue. There is a large human element involved and herein lie some of the problems. When dealing with a company with a less than exemplary reputation, you can receive help from someone prepared to go that extra mile on your behalf. You can also get the opposite from a supposedly reputable company. You can never predict how the human element will effect the equation. As to build quality, some of the above would also apply. Computers are one of the least consumer friendly items available, addin the myriad variations of hardware/software its a wonder they work as well as they do.

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