Everyone has at least one horror story...
...but that fact is, most computers today are remarkably reliable.
In general, the only thing that's likely to make a computer crash spontaneously is a hardware malfunction. Anything with moving parts or with components that heat up when in use can (and eventually will) fail. For most of us, we've replaced the computer for other reasons long before that point of failure. Still, I've had an audio board go bad and have had hard drives crash; Dell performed flawlessly. One of the cameras on my iPhone lost the ability to focus; Apple couldn't have been better about it.
I suspect that many if not most of the problems that lead to a call to tech support result from software problems. Unlike cases where a computer has a piece of defective hardware and a problem is inevitable (and which usually shows up rather early in the computer's life), many software-related difficulties can be avoided, or at least corrected, without having to call for outside help.
First of all, be mindful of every occasion on which you install new software on your machine. By this I mean make sure your work is all saved and backed up, and, for good measure, if you're working in Windows, create a "restore" point before you make a major installation. (The system does this automatically most times, but I'd rather do it myself and be sure.) That way, if something goes wrong, you can usually undo the latest installation, and at least get back to where you started. (Read the Windows help entries for Restore.)
In the Windows control panel section there's a Add or Remove programs utility, plus there's a terrific uninstall utility called "Revo," which I heard about from Cnet, and which is even more thorough than the application that's native to Windows.
Learn how to force a program that freezes to quit. Each operating system has it's own procedure. Learn yours.
Only install one program at a time. This way, if something causes a crash, you won't have to guess which it was. If you've isolated the problem to something on the software side, consider calling (or e-mailing) the software folks. I've found most of them to be pretty good, even when I'm using a "free" edition.
Before you send out an SOS, be sure to re-boot your computer. Amazingly, that seems to solve many software-related problems. I've noticed that sometimes I need to go through two re-boot cycles before everything settles down. Make at least a mental note of how your computer boots
up normally. How long does it take, what steps does it go through, how long does
each of these take, etc.This way you can see whether it's acting more or less normally.
Whether your problem is hardware or software related, if you're going to call for support, try to jot down an account of exactly what you did before the problem arose, and what indications you got that there was a problem. (Jot it down so you won't forget during the long wait for a real person to answer, or in case you have to repeat the story to a more senior or specialized tech.)
If you're fortunate enough to get a well-trained service rep (and I've had great luck with Dell and Apple), make sure you understand the questions you're being asked and the steps you're being told to follow. I know that when I try to help friends, sometimes I'll say "push the so-and-so button and tell me what happens," to which I get the reply "nothing happened." Sometimes nothing really happens, but sometime the screen goes blank, it changes color, the keyboard freezes, or whatever. Yes, the problem wasn't solved, but something happened, and every something can be a useful clue as to the underlying problem.
With e-mail responses, make sure the tech actually understood your problem. I think sometimes they just scan incoming help requests for key words and send back a pre-written script response based on that. If that helps, fine, but if it's clear that no one actually read your question, refrain from being nasty about it, and ask again. (It's amazing how something that seems so clear to you when you write it can be legitimately misinterpreted by someone else.)
In sum, the best way to deal with tech support is not to have to deal with them at all. If you do have to make the call (and save the fone number on a piece of paper somewhere; if it's only in the Contacts List on an inoperable computer it won't help you), try to use it as a lesson about some aspect of computer operations -- a lesson you might apply in the future to avoid having to make yet another call.