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Apple Is Tops in Customer Satisfaction: Survey

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Consumers aren't so thrilled with their computer purchases lately, according to a new report by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.

Overall, PC makers dropped 1.3% from last year, coming in with a consumer satisfaction score of 79 -- a C-plus in some grading systems.

But Apple (AAPL - Get Report) came out at the top of the group and managed a one-point increase from last year. Toshiba and Hewlett Packard (HPQ - Get Report) also improved by one point.

Dell (DELL) and Acer got dinged in their annual scores, however.

The 79 rating for the group isn't so bad, said David VanAmburg, ACSI's managing director. ACSI, which offers a ratings benchmark for various consumer products, grades on a curve.

"It doesn't mean manufacturers are making shoddy products," VanAmburg said. "Not at all. It means that when you've created something pretty neat, the next time around, (consumers) are going to expect something better. It's a trend in all high-tech industries, like TVs, smartphones, you name it. There are constantly rising expectations."

Top-satisfying brands in some industries tend to score in the mid 80s, as PepsiCo (PEP) does. Very few reach the 90s. Heinz received a 91 in 2005, and Ford's (F) Lincoln brand hit 90 last year. The lowest, the cable industry, hovers in the 60s.

Around 2,700 consumers were surveyed by the ACSI this spring about recent computer purchases and asked to rate a variety of factors on a scale of 1 to 100. Visual appeal scored the highest, at 86. Call center satisfaction was the lowest, at 70.

Apple, which consumers ranked as the most satisfying computer company, managed an 87. Second-place HP came in at 80. Dell dropped 2 points to 79, Toshiba increased a point to 78 and Acer, which owns brands like Gateway, fell 2 points to 77. Other computer and device brands, including Lenovo, Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle, Samsung and ASUS, were lumped into the "All Others" group, which fell 4 points from last year to 76.

The falling numbers likely reflect a mediocre welcome to the past year's big computing events. Consumers gave a lackluster reception to Microsoft's (MSFT) new Windows 8 operating system.
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