"Gadget makers love to sell us on all the things their devices can do, whether it's letting us chat with distant friends at any time or watch movies on our commute. But can anyone fix this stuff when it breaks?
That's a question raised by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which discovered in a survey released Sunday that 15 percent of people who had some piece of technology break down in the previous year were never able to get it repaired.
The figure was even higher for certain products. Almost a quarter of cell phone users said they never managed to get their device fixed. And among those who did resolve an issue, a higher percentage either corrected the problem themselves or sought help from friends or relatives rather than call customer service.
"That 15 percent of technology users are sort of throwing up their hands was surprising for us," said John Horrigan, the author of the study. "You're talking about close to one in four cell phone users and one in five computer users saying, `Hey I can't cope with this any longer, I'm done."
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