More complaints over sales of set-top boxes

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am

The Consumer Council has seen an increase in the number of complaints of dishonest tactics used in the sale of TV set-top boxes - devices that enable older television sets to receive and decode digital television signals.

In the first five months of this year, the council received 194 complaints about TV set-top boxes compared with 250 cases for all of last year. Of the 194 cases, 155 were related to dishonest or misleading sales practices.

Council chief executive Connie Lau Yin-hing reminded the public to be wary of door-to-door salesmen peddling digital TV set-top boxes.

Some salesmen took advantage of people's lack of knowledge about digital terrestrial TV and used misleading or false information to persuade them to buy their products.

'Sometimes they falsely identify themselves as sales agents appointed by the government or claim they were hired by the owners' association of the housing estate to install high-definition TV reception facilities for the building,' Ms Lau said.

'Then, they make claims, like, 'Your TV set has a snowing problem and needs a set-top box' or 'You will not be able to see the free-to-air channels without a set-top box', to convince people to buy one.'

Sometimes consumers were told that they would be able to cancel their credit card payment for the set-top box within a certain period if they wanted to, but when they tried the hotline number provided it did not work, she said.

'Elderly people, housewives and students living in public housing estates, and blocks with relatively lax security are often the target.'

The council said the complaints involved six to seven set-top box manufacturers, but it refused to name them.

'We call on customers to be cautious about door-to-door salesmen promoting set-top boxes.'

A survey by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau showed that about one-third of the city's households watched high-definition television programmes in March.