Half of Tech Users Can’t Get Their !$@#% Devices to Work


Most of us have been plagued with a blue screen of death, a laptop that refuses to connect to a home wireless network, or a cell phone that just doesn’t feel like making calls.

About 48 percent of technology users have encountered such problems with their devices in the last year, according to a Sunday report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. How do they deal with these technological meltdowns? Most turn to customer support or just tinker with the devices themselves.

Of the more than 2,000 people surveyed last year by Pew, about 38 percent of them said they contacted customer support for help with a bad Internet connection, computer, or cell phone, while 28 percent fixed the problem on their own.

About 15 percent asked friends or family for assistance, 2 percent found help online, and another 15 percent could not fix the problem at all.

What technology caused the most headaches?

Internet connections. About 44 percent of home Internet users reported having their Web connection fail in the last year.

“Broadband may be trickier to fix than dial-up without help from customer support,” according to the report. About 49 percent of broadband customers had to contact customer support when they had a problem, versus 27 percent of dial-up customers.

Also causing problems were computers, with 28 percent of respondents reporting a malfunction in the last year, followed by 21 percent of cell phone users, 2 percent of people with PDA’s like the BlackBerry, and 3 percent of those with MP3 players like the Apple iPod.

People who encountered computer trouble were most likely to fix it themselves, with about 29 percent contacting customer support. Internet and cell phone troubles were not as easy to troubleshoot, with 45 percent and 43 percent of people turning to user support, respectively.

Friends and family were most likely to help with computer and Internet problems, but cell phone problems were not as easily resolved. About 23 percent of people with cell phone issues could not fix the problem at all. About 19 percent of computer issues were unresolved, while only 7 percent of Internet connection issues could not be fixed.

Men were more likely than women to fix their computers themselves, but women were more likely than men to ask friends and family for help, according to Pew.

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