UK TV buyers ‘confused by retailers’

A study conducted with 10 of the UK’s leading high street retailers has found that consumers are being left confused when shopping for TVs, as a result of retailers who don’t fully understand the new era of TV technology. A mystery shopper exercise, conducted by digital TV expert ANT, found retailers guilty of misinforming consumers when asked about HD and connected TVs.

British households now have an average of six digital devices. This trend for connectivity has infiltrated the living room, with connected televisions providing consumers with access to traditional broadcast content along with the addition of new Web-based services that would usually be associated with online browsing. These include on-demand TV services such as iPlayer, YouTube and Love Film.

Despite this trend, staff at only half of the stores ANT visited were aware that their shops sold connected televisions, meaning consumers could be missing out on new developments because shop representatives haven’t received sufficient product training. The study also found confusion amongst shop staff over exactly what kind of experience a connected TV would deliver to users. While they often listed popular online services such as Facebook and Twitter only one retail assistant explained that the web connection did not mean total internet browsing capability.

A third of shops visited, despite actively promoting bargain deals on TVs, had no staff members available to advise customers on the benefits of the different types of TV technologies or the type of device that would best suit their needs.

“The results from the mystery shopper study provide a snapshot of the reality facing consumers today when investing in television technology,” said Simon Woodward, CEO at ANT. “Typically the average TV will last for around seven years. Technology is changing all the time, so when people are making decisions about what to buy, it needs to be an informed purchase.”

He continued: “Inaccurate advice from shop staff is fuelling consumer confusion. Retailers need to understand the type of features that are important to different customers. Watching TV is traditionally a communal experience so while social media brands such as Twitter and Facebook may be recognisable to many we need to ask ourselves how these services fit into the shared TV experience with all the family, and the implications these growing personalised services could have on the experience of just tuning in, sitting back and watching TV.”

The study also looked at staff knowledge of receiving HD content via Freeview, which has been heavily promoted by retailers in the past 12 months. When asked whether an HD television with built-in Freeview would deliver Freeview HD, not one member of staff identified that in order to take advantage of this the viewer must live in a HD-enabled area. Customers living outside an enabled area will not be able to access Freeview HD.

“There is a certain level of culpability that needs to be addressed here, in order to ensure that consumers are getting what they pay for when it comes to investing in TV technology. Broadcast is going through a period of evolution right now, with new technologies and services entering the market all the time. It is the responsibility of these trusted retailers to ensure that staff are effectively trained, in order to support customers with knowledgeable insight as they turn to them for help when deciding what to buy. It’s an exciting time for television – and consumers need to ensure they do their research to get the best of what technology has to offer.”

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