Here's our Hardware Tip for.. January 19, 2001
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Service And Support Tips--Part 4 of 6
Another alternative to phone-based technical support is real-time online chat support. Some companies now offer the ability to chat live with a technician rather than talk over the phone.

The plus side of chat support is speed--for the moment, anyway. You often don't wait as long for chat support as for phone support (probably because most users still rely on the latter, crowding the phone lines).

The down side of chat support is the list of items you need to make it work. First, you must have a Web connection (as I mentioned in the last tip, your hardware problem might limit your Internet access).

You might also need a chat software plug-in module for your browser, depending on what type of chat mechanism your hardware vendor uses. You should find all the details on the vendor's company Web site.

Finally, you'll have an easier time if you're a fast typist. If you hunt and peck at the keyboard, inability to communicate quickly with a Web-based technician may frustrate you.

Remember, if you don't find satisfaction with chat support, you can always go back to the phone.