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Consumer Reports Rates CE Retailers

When it comes to selling desktop computers, manufacturers and direct marketers have the edge over stores. That’s the word from Consumer Reports — or rather, 26,000 of its readers who responded to the magazine’s 2002 annual questionnaire.

Their biggest gripes with brick-and-mortar: finding helpful and knowledgeable floor people, and dealers’ limited product selection. Not surprisingly, low- or no-service discounters Costco, Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart tied for last place on those counts, although Sears ranked only slightly higher and scored poorly on pricing. Fry’s also got a failing grade for sales help, but was judged “good” on price and selection.

Leading the pack on all counts was Circuit City and Micro Center, although the highest satisfaction scores went directly to Apple, Dell, IBM, Gateway and PC/Mac Mall.