Apple, Dell and Sony are the brands of computer Which? readers are most likely to recommend to a friend.
But the now defunct Time and Tiny, which went bust earlier this year, left their owners unimpressed because the machines were unreliable, and the companies gave poor sales advice and sub-standard support.
Our survey of more than 15,000 readers found about three in ten Time computers bought this year have already needed a repair. This compares with only around one in ten computers bought from Apple, Dell, Sony, Hewlett-Packard and Packard Bell.
But despite the good reliability of these brands, only Apple was rated highly for customer support. Dell and Sony were not so popular, with fewer than one in five owners rating their support as very good.
Independents impress customers
Local independent stores scored highly for fixing problems; 57 per cent of people rated the support service as ‘very good’ while Mastercare, the customer care service from the Dixons group, limped behind with just 12 per cent.
For overall service when buying a computer, local independents topped the table again; almost half their customers described service as ‘very good’, while just over one in ten of specialist computer retailer PC World’s customers said the same.
Which? Editor Malcolm Coles said:’Anybody whose shiny new computer has promptly broken down once they got it home will understand how frustrating it is and the inconvenience it causes.
‘It adds insult to injury if you have to run up your phone bill calling an expensive helpline to fix the problem. If only the big help centres would take the lead from smaller, independent stores and offer their customers better service.
‘Well done to Apple, Dell and Sony for keeping their customers happy by making computers they can rely on.’