Retailers and helplines have come in for harsh criticism from 'Which?' magazine after it collected the experiences of UK home computer users.
The survey found that 20 per cent of new buyers have major problems setting up their PC purchases, and 40 per cent experience diffulties during their first year of ownership.
And customers seeking help were often directed to support desks at the end of premium rate phone numbers, ensuring they could easily end up paying #30 per hour.
Retailers fared little better. Black marks were awarded to Dixons, Currys, Comet and PC World - most users surveyed said they would not buy computer equipment from these stores again. Only John Lewis and independent retailers won much in the way of positive feedback.
Instead, the clear result of the survey was that users generally have a better experience buying direct. Manufacturers Dan, Dell, Gateway and Apple were all highly rated by users for reliability - most buyers of these companies' machines said they would go to them again.
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