Even if you didn’t shamelessly hint to family and friends about a specific gadget gift you’d love to unwrap this holiday, chances are good you found something techy under the tree this year.
From tablets and e-readers to smartwatches and activity trackers to mobile phones and smart home gear, tech was one of the — if not the — hottest gifts of 2021. But what if you can’t figure out how to use your new toy? You’re not alone.
After all, it’s not like we grew up with these gizmos. So chances are good that you’ll have questions, or even challenges, as you familiarize yourself with these devices and what they can do.
How you go about getting technical help could vary greatly, based on what the issue is, how tech-savvy you are and what you can afford. With this in mind, here’s a look at a few options for getting help, even if it’s an evening, weekend or holiday. Some are free.
Look to the manufacturer for support
When you pay for a product or buy one as a gift, part of the cost goes toward customer service and technical support. So don’t be afraid to use it.
The same goes if you’re paying for a service, such as your internet provider, mobile phone carrier or cable TV company. They, too, are obligated to help you. Even if a warranty period has expired, I’ve found many companies will still try to assist.
To get help, go to the company’s website — apple.com and hp.com are two examples — and look for the tech support area, or do a web search for “[product name] tech support.” But make sure you're reaching the actual company, because scammers are everywhere.
To communicate with them, use the method you’re most comfortable with. Be prepared to wait for days if you choose email, and you may wait hours during high-volume times for your phone call to get to the top of a queue. But if you look for a Live Chat tab or something similar, it will open a text-based chat window so you can correspond with someone on the other end in real time. At first that might be a computer-controlled chatbot, but a human should come online at some point.
If you're having a problem with a product you just received, make sure you have a gift receipt, in case you need to return it to the store. Also be sure to register your device with the company if that’s an option.