First, make sure you know exactly what kind of support you're entitled to. Check your warranty — does it cover hardware? On-site help? Diagnostics?
Then, be organized when it comes to your personal information and your computer problem. Make a list of your computer's basics — the date purchased, the serial number, the basic specs, any programs you've installed, etc.
And plot out an accurate and thorough map of the problem before you speak with anyone. What happened? When did the problem start? Be specific.
Figure out the best way to reach your computer company's support center. Some are better by phone, some by e-mail. Consumer Reports rated the major computer companies for support access and here are the results:
Phone, e-mail and Web are all equally responsive when it comes to Apple.
Online chat is the way to go — HP will respond to chat messages instantly. If you need more help, the phone service is your next bet.
Dell is accessible both by phone and online chat.
You'll have better luck calling than going through the Web site.
The phone is the way to go.
Again, calling will get you better results.
Go through support on the company's Web site.
By Marshall Loeb