Is Fear Driving the Increase in Remote PC Help?

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by Jacqueline Emigh

Almost half of all computer owners would rather have their PCs serviced remotely than allow “a stranger into their homes,” according to survey results released over a newswire. PC users might want to take this and other findings of the study with at least a grain of salt, however.

In addition, 73 percent of respondents are spending money on preventive computer care and 31 percent are “spending more on their technology than they’re putting away in savings,” say results of the survey, conducted among 1000 PC owners with broadband connections, aged 21 to 55.

Yet while the research was carried out by independent survey firm Kelton Research, it was commissioned by, one of many players in the growing arena of online tech support.

In a statement issued over Marketwatch, contended that the survey findings supply “the strongest evidence yet that remote technology support has gained acceptance,” and also that Americans are now “taking steps to ensure their computers are in good working order.”

Results of the Kelton study “indicate a margin of error of +/1 31 percent at a 95 percent confidence level,” also according to

Do the findings make sense?

Regardless of these assurances, though, some of the results don’t appear to make common sense. Survey findings can be full of holes for a number of reasons, and the study represents an example of how this can happen.

For one thing, bias seems to have crept into the results due to how the questions were phrased. After all, there are many more support options out there for users than the two alternatives of remote support and letting “strangers into their homes.”

Users can also bring their PCs to repair shops or ship their computers out to get them fixed, for instance. When troubles turn out to be hardware- based, one of those approaches might be necessary, anyway.

Beyond that, the survey doesn’t seem to clearly distinguish between free and fee-based tech support, phone versus chat versus remote desktop support, or support from vendors as opposed to outside companies specializing in PC help, for example.

Credibility undermined?

The results might well be right on target in their suggestion of an overall rise in acceptance of various remote help solutions. The online support industry does seem to be booming, in spite of – or maybe even because of – today’s economy.

The many other players in this general space range from start-ups such as and to online arms of well established outfits such as BestBuy’s GeekSquad.

Yet the overall credibility of the Support-com-sponsored study gets undermined by other results that seem bizarre. In another questionable finding, for example, only 46 percent — a minority of those polled — want to “ensure that the person on the other end of the phone can understand their problem and can effectively communicate what they need to do to fix it.”

So, then, are the majority of PC users actually satisfied with talking to call center people who are technically clueless, or who possess only rudimentary language skills?




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