Readers reported that Apple topped the charts for consumer satisfaction in two of three categories: Best place to buy directly from the manufacturer, and best walk-in store.
Amazon.com took the top honors in the best independent, or non-manufacturer, Web site category.
"Apple definitely is doing something right," said Greg Daugherty, editor at large at the Yonkers, N.Y.-based Consumer Reports. "The highest-rated one of all, in terms of satisfaction, was buying online from Apple. Its retail store also was at the top of the retail category and not far down from the web site in terms of satisfaction."
What was it that pushed Apple to the top in consumers' hearts and wallets? Daugherty says people responding to their survey pointed to both selection and service. Apple employees also are known for being well-informed and helpful. "People are willing to pay a little extra for that," he noted.
Daugherty also said that while an overwhelming majority of people are still driving to walk-in stores, the happiest shoppers are those who do their buying online. Surfing the Net means people can avoid driving through traffic, dealing with holiday-crazed shoppers angling for the last spot in the store parking lot and lunging for the last sale item on the shelf.
Consumer are also far more comfortable shopping online than they were just a few years ago, said Daugherty, who added that people have no qualms about buying pricey and fragile items, like desktops and PCs, online.
In Consumer Reports' direct from the manufacturer category, the best performers are:
Apple came out on top with a score of 93 out of 100; Lenovo with 85; Hewlett-Packard with 84; Dell with 83.
In the magazine's independent (or non-manufacturer) web site category, the highest-ranked sites are:
Amazon squeaked out a win with only a percentage of a point advantage at slightly more than 90;
PC/Mac Connection with 90; Costco, which was noted for making up for a small selection with good prices, got a score of 87; CDW also got an 87.
For walk-in stores, Consumers Reports' top picks are:
Apple, with a rating of 90; Micro Centerat 81;
Dell's kiosk, 81;
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