No one likes to call tech support and it?s safe to say that those who are willing to spend time to rank support services are not doing so to praise them. So with a grain of salt in hand?

A recent Consumer Reports survey revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the tech support services of major computer manufactures.

The 10,000 respondent survey measured tech support services according to ability to solve the problem, length of call, and knowledge of support staff.

With exception of Apple, which received over 80 points out of 100 in both laptops and PCs, most manufacturers struggled to garner scores above 60 points.

The report noted that 40 percent of notebooks and 30 percent of personal computers require repair or replacement within three to four years after purchase.

The survey measured laptops and PCs separately and Apple led all companies with scores of 83 and 81, respectively. Far behind in second place was

Lenovo, who scored 66 points and was trailed by Dell, Toshiba, and Gateway with scores of 60, 55, and 54.

Consumer satisfaction was even lower among PC users, as no other vendor surpassed 56 points.

The one glaring negative for Apple?s tech support was the brief 90-day availability of its telephone tech support.

Apple received high scores from its brick and mortar tech support, which was able to solve product issues 90 percent of the time. However, this may have less to do with the capabilities of Apple?s in-store tech support staff, than the advantages of on-site repair. A 2007 Consumer Reports survey found that that retailer-supplied tech support such as Best Buy?s Geek Squad were found to be more helpful than manufacturer supplied telephone and online support. Just don’t hire them to .

Although costs are a major concern for manufacturers, post purchase support should be seen as an opportunity to secure replacements purchases and foster customer loyalty.

Its a sad truth that the $39 inkjet printer you bought at Wal-Mart will likely last longer than the $1,000 notebook you scored online. While the average life span of an inkjet printer is 5 years, many laser printers are used for as long as 10 to 15 years. As consumers are mowing through computers every 3 years, the challenge for many in the peripherals industry is to ensure that they constantly update the drivers for all of their long lasting equipment.