Last year, Toshiba netted a C+ rating, the same grade it has earned the last two years, due to its inconsistent phone help. While the manufacturer has a clean, revamped support website for 2013, we ran into many of the same problems that caused Toshiba to score so low last time.
The company uses the same @ToshibaUS_Help account from last year and maintains a Facebook account, which was more active for us this year than it was in 2012. Toshiba continues to offer 90 days of complimentary help.
For our testing, we used a Toshiba Satellite S55t and asked how to set up multiple user accounts, how to attach Bluetooth speakers and how to disable touch-clicking on our device’s touchpad.
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Toshiba has a refreshed support website, which we found clean and easy to navigate. An entry bar for your product’s serial number is placed front and center, and there are dedicated tabs for Product Support, Drivers & Software, Community Forums and Repair & Parts.
While Toshiba has a wealth of How-To videos and articles, only a handful of videos and documents were featured on the main page, with no option to specifically search How-Tos. Eventually, we found answers regarding how to make multiple user accounts and change our touchpad settings, but searching for “Bluetooth speakers” yielded a variety of unclear threads from the community forums.
Toshiba’s Virtual Help Desk has the appearance of a live-chat window, but it simply provides automated answers to Toshiba-related questions. The interface wasn’t very helpful; the bot told us to call Toshiba when we asked how to set up multiple user accounts and the Help Desk had no answer at all when we asked about Bluetooth speakers.
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The company does offer a bona fide live chat service. Our chat with customer service representative Errin was brief and friendly, though the representative didn’t help us directly. As soon as we asked how to set up multiple user accounts on our Satellite, Errin told us to download an instruction manual from Toshiba’s support site or contact the company over the phone. She asked if we needed anything else before logging off and ending our 5-minute conversation.
We tweeted Toshiba about setting up multiple user accounts, and the company responded promptly with basic instructions within an hour. The company answered our Facebook comments about connecting Bluetooth speakers in roughly 2 hours, giving us detailed instructions on which menus to navigate in order to get our product working.
However, on Facebook, we noticed a variety of angry customer comments that mentioned getting no response from the manufacturer. Toshiba claims to have answered 4,500 help requests on both Twitter and Facebook during the past year.
Toshiba has both 1-800 and priority access phone numbers, both of which required us to navigate a somewhat lengthy tree of options to find the specific department for our issue. Toshiba’s premium support options start at $69 per issue, while virus or malware removal will run you $99. The company’s Premium Support Bundle Costs $159, which can be used for three incidents during the course of a year.
On our first call at 5 p.m., we spoke with customer service representative Eko in the Philippines, where all of Toshiba’s technicians are located. When we asked Eko how to set up multiple user accounts, he told us that he needed a Toshiba Laptop Expert to answer the question, and put us on hold for 2 minutes before transferring us to another representative.
Shelly then told us we needed to upgrade to Toshiba Premium Support so that she could access our computer remotely and help solve our problem. We declined politely, but Shelly spent about 2 minutes aggressively trying to push the upgrade on us, outlining the various benefits of the service. We said no a second time, and the representative offered to give us a two-week price of $69 that we could upgrade to a yearlong plan later on. Once again, we declined and Shelly gave up, ironically asking us to rate Toshiba’s phone service before we disconnected after a long 20-minute call.
We made a second call at 11:30 a.m. in hopes of finding out how to connect a pair of Bluetooth speakers to our notebook. We waited a staggering 30 minutes before a Toshiba rep even picked up the phone. When we finally spoke with customer service representative Sam and asked our question, he directed us to our computer’s Device Manager, where we found our Bluetooth accessory. Our time on the phone was brief, but the call’s unforgivable wait time resulted in a total of 40 minutes on the phone.
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For our final call, we asked customer service representative Ariana how to disable touchpad clicking. Ariana told us to check our Satellite’s settings menu, but seemed unsure where to go next. She then asked for our product’s info and put us on hold. Finally, Ariana returned and offered to find the option for us via remote access, which we found to be a complex solution for a relatively simple issue. Interestingly, Ariana didn’t say that remote access required premium support. We were on the phone for 11 minutes.
Toshiba gave prompt, helpful answers across its social media channels, and we were able to find answers to 2 out of our 3 questions on the company’s support site. However, the live chat option wasn’t helpful in our testing. Phone support was much worse. While every phone representative was friendly, we were on hold for far too long during all of our calls and only got a solid answer once. Even more frustrating was how aggressive one team member was in trying to sell us premium service. Toshiba has a solid support website with useful resources, but our personal interactions with the brand were consistently unsatisfying.