I will have to say Kayako - especially since Cerby made significant changes to their system. However - cerby has a great free option.
Kayako support so far has been exceptable on my end. I get a response in less than a day and if you provide all the right info up front - they will most likely have it solved soon. It can be slow - but worth it.
Wish you the best.
And Auracle is great but ugly on ticket view. Looks alot like perldesk.
Have used it for a long while. Very solid and very feature rich! Support is next another story. WOW it is awesome. I would try their free limited version and see how you like it. Let them know you are trying to see about getting the full version. You will not be sorry.....
We have been using Kayako for more then a year now, I should say it is Fantastic never had any problem with it. As far as there support is concerned I am not really aware of that because we never needed their support till now. We had some small issues which we got it fixed with some help from their forum.
But I can say for Live Chat you should not miss having a look at PhpLive its very promising especially at that price.
Horrible misconceptions? HA! - I said it looks like it and of course that is my opinion. My reason for saying that is the simple response and ticket view screen. Very plain. Just my opinion. I have heard great things about Auracle - it just doesn't fit my style.
But like you said - everyone has their own preferences. Thank goodness right?