The steadily decreasing cost of laptops and PCs is almost universally considered a good thing. But, if you talk to people who have show-stopping technical problems with their inexpensive computers, you realize that customer support is one of the places where costs have been cut.
As the article in today's USA Today indicates, the off-shore consumer-level customer support infrastructure is showing signs of extreme stress. The widely-adopted cost minimization approach is buckling under the collective weight of virus and spyware problems, inexpensive components, and feature bloat. This has resulted in a decrease in reported customer satisfaction levels.
The article provides a number of anecdotes from real customers, including people who were dissatified with the support they received from Dell and Sony. It also includes the results of the annual support survey done by PC Magazine.
Toward the end, it talks about options that are available to consumers who are willing to pay for a solution to their problem. These include H-P Total Care Owner Services and GeekSquad, a service of BestBuy. I believe that these are good options for many people, if they think about the value of their time and the loss of productivity that they experience from home technical problems. [ via Slashdot ]