Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Gadget problems divide the sexes

man and woman
17% women and 9% men had nothing discernibly wrong with their appliances.

Men and women have different approaches to dealing with technology problems, according to a gadget helpline.

The service found that 64% of its male callers and 24% of its female callers had not read the instruction manual before ringing up.

12% of male and 7% of female customers simply needed to plug in or turn on their appliance.

The company, Gadget Helpline, surveyed 75,000 calls received between 25 September and 23 October 2009.

The helpline has 120,000 subscribers in the UK, most of whom are over the age of 35. The average age of helpline staff is 21.

Women spent 32% longer on the phone to their helpers than men - but 66% of the helpline staff preferred speaking to them, the survey found.

"There is evidence of a gender divide in technology, although a lot of it comes down to interpretation," Joanna Bawa, chartered psychologist and editor of the Usability News website, told the BBC.

In general terms men treat technology as something to be understood and conquered while women are more motivated by appliances that benefit them, she added.

Sync stress

The helpline's busiest times are Monday mornings and Boxing day, said founder and chief executive Crispin Thomas.

Getting gadgets to communicate with each other was the subject of a large number of requests for help.

"Syncing one gadget with another causes problems," he said.

Newly released products also seem to cause teething problems - many of Mr Thomas' customers had difficulty setting up their Blu-Ray players in 2008 when they first became mass market.

He does not believe that appliances are becoming more complicated, but thinks that they are expected to do a lot more.

"Generally speaking, in a production run, 5% of appliances will contain a manufacturing fault," he added.

"But 15% - 20% get taken back to the shop for return."

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