The Great Big Digital TV Switchover Rip Off!

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30/11/2007 Update (at end)

The Big Digital TV Switch Over Rip Off!

With Digital TV storming ahead and Analogue Shutdown getting closer and closer the pressure to upgrade your television equipment increases with every passing day. After all, no one wants to end up without their regular fix of " Eastenders", " House" or " The Bill" do they?

Depending on how many televisions, VCRs etc. you have analogue switch off could cost as little as £20 or £30 or it could cost you hundreds or thousands of pounds.

The majority of people, particularly the elderly, simply have no idea about Digital TV or the analogue switch off. So, what will they do when they see the adverts on the TV and get worrying letters through the post?

They will go to someone who knows about it; their local TV shop or, possibly, one of the big high street chains. Sadly, this is where the Big Rip Off comes in...

Industry Rip Off

I am a technically competent person with a good understanding of audio visual and home entertainment equipment. I am new to Freeview but have done a lot of research, I needed a Set Top Box with RF loop through and an RF modulator because I wanted to inject Channel Five into the house UHF distribution system.

I new exactly what I wanted and as a couple of models from Thomson and Humax met my requirements I paid my local TV specialist a visit to check out the prices. It was an eye opening experience.

I asked them some very specific questions about the RF loop through and RF modulator capabilities of these STBs. The answers they gave were at best misleading and at worst bare faced lies! Fortunately, I recognised them at such. From my previous dealings with them I knew they weren't incompetent and as they were referring to manufacturer's data sheets they must be lying.

I had lost all faith in their ability to give me a correct or truthful answer but I asked them several more leading questions because I wanted to know why they would be lying to me.

It was then, almost by accident, I discovered the truth.

I happened to overhear a side conversation between the retailer and his colleague. One of them mentioned a Trade Conference they had attended recently and the conversation turned to tactics. The message was pure and simple; "Digital TV Good / Set Top Box Bad". They had been told "Whenever a customer comes in looking for a FreeView box sell them a Digital TV instead". I'm sure they said something about incentives and rewards.

So, if you are unfortunate enough to go to a television shop to ask their advice about Freeview looking for a nice cheap STB [may be £20 or £30] you could end up with a Digital TV costing £300, £400, £500 or a lot more.


If you have any elderly or vunerable relatives who haven't got a clue about technology please don't let them be ripped off by the Digital TV industry. Help them out.
  • Buy them a basic, easy to use, Set Top Box.
  • Install it for them, (don't forget the VCR).
  • Show them how to change channels.
  • Show them how to record TV programmes.
  • Above all, be patient!

My Worst Fears

I strongly suspect, as switch off becomes imminent, the elderly will be targetted by unscrupulous individuals going from door to door offering to " Convert You To Digital TV, Right Now, No Problems Lady, Only a Ton".

And, for your ton [£100] - possibly a lot more - they will install a second hand box of dubious quality (probably an old On Digital box [maybe £10 cost] with limited compatibilty with current Digital TV). Five minutes work and they're out of the door, never to be seen again; no receipt, no guarantee and certainly no money back when (not if) it fails.

A nice little earner as Arthur Daley might have said...

Please don't let someone you love, or care for, fall for this sort of scam.


Despite the ever increasing availablity of set top boxes it appears the practice of pushing Digital Televisions onto people who don't need them and know any better is, sadly, still thriving. I recently witnessed someone shamelessly telling a pensioner couple their five year old 26" television set would be a useless pile of junk in just over a year and they would have to buy a brand new digital television for about £450 when a £14.99 set top box would have suited them perfectly.

Would you like to bet that salesman was on commission?
And that it spolit his day when they left the store "decided to look elsewhere" after I pointed out he was ripping them off?

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