Home' LAPTOP Magazine : August 2011 Contents Laptop | august 2011
2011 Tech SupporT
Apple has topped our Tech Support Showdown ratings
for the past few years, but the company isn’t resting
on its laurels. The MacBook maker has rolled out a
helpful new Express Lane feature that identifies the user’s
issue before connecting to a tech nician. Apple still only
offers phone help for the first 90 days, unless you fork over
cash for the three-year AppleCare protection plan ($249 for
13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook, and MacBook Air; $349 for
15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros). However, the wealth of helpful
information on Apple’s support site minimizes the chances
that you’ll ever need to call the company.
Since Apple has a unique OS, we changed one of our
questions slightly. Like with other brands, we asked how
to establish a kid-friendly user profile. For the software-
specific question, we asked how to trim the ends of a clip in
iMovie ’11. A nd we modified the touchpad-related question
by asking, “What can I do with three and four fingers using
the trackpad, and how can I enable pinch-to-zoom?”
Web & Social Networking
Finding answers to our questions on Apple’s support site
involved navigating simple drill-down menus to select our
device. The process has changed slightly since last year:
After you select your product, the site takes you to a general
support page about your laptop. We found correct answers
to two of our questions in less than two minutes.
This year, Apple replaced its Online Support Assistant
with a new ser vice called Express Lane (expresslane.apple.
com). Using this service entails entering your machine’s
serial number and then narrowing down your issue through
a series of menus. At every step, suggested help articles
appear on the right side of the page. If your issue isn’t solved
by one of these articles, you are given the option of having
Apple call you now, call you later, or for you to call Apple at
a scheduled time.
We made our first Apple call to Sonja in Austin at 5 p.m.
EST on a Wednesday. We first asked about using multitouch
gestures on the trackpad. She cordially directed us to
the Trackpad section under System Preferences and had
us check off the gestures we
wanted to use.
During our second call with
Andrew in Sacramento at 7 p.m.
on a Friday, we asked for help in
trimming a video. He directed
us to iMovie’s help file, where
he told us to search for “trim.”
The first help topic was entitled
“ Trim unwanted frames from a
video clip.” He patiently stayed
on the phone while we trimmed
frames, and explained that this
was as precise a cut as the
We took Apple up on its
offer to call us immediately
for our third question. Within
roughly two minutes of select-
ing and confirmingthis option
at 12:30 p.m . on a Wed nesday,
we received a call. We were
on hold for less than a minute before Crystal answered
with an upbeat and friendly voice. Crystal was already
familiar with our case, thanks to the information we had
entered into Express Lane. She put us on hold for 2 to 3
minutes, and apologized for the wait when she came back
on the line
Crystal correctly explained how to set up a managed
account. However, then things got a little confusing. Crystal
repeatedly directed us to the “Login Items” button to control
what programs could be used by our child. She erroneously
said that it was at the top of our child’s account window. When
we finally suggested the “Parental Controls” button at the
bottom of the page, she seemed confused, but said to try it.
We read off the titles of tabs on the parental control screen
and Crystal confirmed that we could block programs from
there. However, she brought up the missing Login Items
button again, insisting this would also allow a parent to
designate kid-friendly programs.
The Login Items menu is only available when you’re
logged into that specific user’s account and determines
which programs will automatically open upon user login.
It took us about a minute to find this answer via a Google
search for “login items managed account,” which led us to
an Apple support discussion page.
Overall, Apple’s tech support is still the best in the business.
The glut of information on any manufacturer’s support site is
usually overwhelming, which makes the elegant organiza-
tion of Apple’s massive knowledge
base all the more impressive. A nd
while it took us a while to get the right
answer on one of our phone calls,
Apple’s reps were a lways friendly,
knowledgeable, and patient.
Apple’s new Express
Lane service speeds
you through support
options and lets you
schedule a call with
6 a.m.— 6
p.m. PSt, 7
days a week
< 1 minute
mAximum: 6 minutes
CALL LENgth: 10 minutes
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