Phone hold time: Based on the average time a product's owners waited on hold to speak to a phone support representative.
Average phone service rating: Based on a cumulative score derived from product owners' ratings of several aspects of their experience in phoning the company's technical support service. Among the factors considered were whether the information was easy to understand, and whether the support rep spoke clearly and knowledgeably.
Problem was never resolved: Based on the percentage of survey respondents who said the problem remained after they contacted the company's support service.
Service experience: Based on a cumulative score derived from product owners' responses to a series of questions focusing on 11 specific aspects of their experience with the company's service department.
We polled roughly 45,000 PCWorld.com readers who responded to e-mail messages. We used methods of statistical analysis to determine which companies were significantly better or worse than the average, based on all responses about a certain product type. Because our survey sample is heavily weighted toward generally tech-savvy readers, it may not be representative of the general population, which may have different expectations and experiences with technology products.