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Incompetent tech support still a fact of (PC) life

Apple owners, you're excused from reading further. No such luck for the vast overwhelming majority of man - and woman - kind. If you use a Windows PC and something goes bump in the night, chances are high that you've been left frustrated and a few shekels lighter after going through the process of getting your machine fixed.

Or supposedly fixed.

As our ZDNet colleague Ed Bott points out today in a telling first-person narrative, finding competent PC support these days remains a challenge, especially when the person supposedly doing the repair work may be doing all the wrong thing. What's more, there's no shortage of anecdotes where Joe Expert winds up suggesting useless "upgrades" that only serve to line his pocket while slowing down your computer.

That goes a long way to explain why people treasure their Macs:  the simplicity of the support experience.

"If you buy a Mac, your hardware and your operating system come from the same vendor, which makes support a dead-simple experience," Bott notes. "When something goes wrong, you call Apple. In the worst-case scenario, you haul your hardware into the nearest Apple Store, where a trained support tech can diagnose and repair most problems."

Over the years, then, no surprise when Apple regularly turns up atop customer satisfaction surveys rating computer tech support. So what happens when your formerly fast PC gets turned into a hopeless mess of wires and kludgy software. This tell-all basically, well, tells it all.

The rub is that a potential remedy to the situation exists - at least in theory. Bott notes that given Apple's "limited hardware selection and support for a single OS means, a modest investment in training the personnel who staff its network of "Genius Bars" goes a long way.

"Maybe if Microsoft had a network of retail stores as large as Apple's it could step in and offer this service. For now, though, finding a competent PC support professional is a challenge as big as finding an honest auto mechanic."

One can always hope.

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