When Tech Support Fails: Three Alternatives to Call Centers

Calling tech support has always been a last resort in my book. But according to a new research report, an astounding 72% of American households confess to relying upon technical support to "fix every technical problem they experience" with new household gadgets!

Parks Associates, a marketing and analysis research firm, also found U.S. households are setting up their on their own more often, which may be contributing to increased calls to tech support. In the last year:


  • 81% of households set up a new tablet

  • 72% set up a smartphone

  • 60% set up a new home network


Despite the fact that so many people are able to tackle the set up of their new devices on their own, a large percentage still rely on tech support for help. Which raises the question — where is the best place to turn for help if you don't enjoy long wait times and hold music?

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If you can't bring yourself to call tech support next time you are setting up a new device, try:

1. A Smarter Google Search: This infographic from Hack College is one of the best resources I've found to date on how to use Google more efficiently. For example, instead of asking Google a question like: "How do I change my networking settings?," type in the answer you hope to find. For example: "Network settings for Playstation 3".

2. Ask your network: You'd be surprised how many of your friends on Facebook and Twitter may have had the same problems in the past. Put it out there and the answer may come in no time.

3. Get to know the message boards: If you use a certain piece of software on a regular basis or recently bought a new computer from a particular brand, you may be surprised to find that there are message boards out there for the express purpose of discussing said product or service. Take a look around, sign up and visit regularly. Often times, you can find the answer more quickly this way than by calling tech support.

If you want to read the full report on tech support usage in the U.S., you can find it here.

(Images: Shutterstock and Elizabeth Giorgi)

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Liz is a writer and filmmaker from Minneapolis. She was nominated for a Webby and won an Emmy for Science of Watchmen, a documentary short about the physics in the comic book movie. She’s a tech obsessive, verified nerd and total Anglophile.

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