Freesat Fiasco

  dms_05 18 Oct 09
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For those of you thinking of buying a Freesat receiver you should read about the fiasco surrounding a forced update of the firmware on Goodmans, Grundig and Alba boxes that has resulted in many of them becoming bricked. After 5 days many users are still unable to access the service click here

  dms_05 20 Oct 09

Apparently after 6 days the Harvard group which owns Bush/Grundig/Alba has admitted the receivers are completely bricked and cannot be revived over air so people are left without any means to watch TV until they replace the STB. As one comment said:

"ilroberts Says:
October 19th, 2009 at 2:47 pm

As far as I’m concerned Freesat has shown that it is an immature platform – if this kind of problem occured with Sky there would be uproar and a fix would be available in a few hours.

I’m not going to switch freesat boxes, I’m going to switch to Sky and get decent support, it will be worth the money!"

If you have a problem you can call freesat, the number is 0845 313 0051

  Stuartli 20 Oct 09

It's nothing to do with Freesat (jointly owned by the BBC and ITV) - the problem lies with the set top boxes manufacturer (as far as I'm aware the brands mentioned use the same basic design) and an STB software update.

That's why it's best to stick to top names such as Humax and Panasonic when purchasing equipment.

  oresome 20 Oct 09

The situation described does raise some interesting consumer issues.

If the product is rendered useless by a failed attempt to upgrade the firmware that's outside the control of the consumer, who's then responsible for repairing it?

Assuming the consumer can excercise control over updates and declines them, will the product continue to function as it did when purchased without the upgrade?

If you're an average consumer and not a geek, how would you know why your product had failed?

  dms_05 20 Oct 09

Stuartli - it actually has a lot to do with Freesat. First Freesat authorised and approved the Bush/Goodmans/Alba designs and granted the use of the Freesat logo. In fact Harvard were one of the manufacturers of choice for Freesat at the launch of the services. Secondly it reflects very badly on an retail product when a software update is so badly handled it renders the Freesat service unusable. The BBC/ITV Freesat company approved a major supplier who have managed to completely stop tens of thousands of 'average' customers accessing the Freesat service. I think that is about as bad as you can get especially as the response from Freesat and Harvard has been very slow.

  Stuartli 20 Oct 09

Some manufacturers were given preferential treatment to offer the necessary equipment for several months at the onset of Freesat.

You'll notice, as I pointed out earlier, that quality manufacturers such as Humax and Panasonic don't/didn't have such problems.

  dms_05 23 Oct 09

10 days on and still no fix. I feel really sorry for those who bought early from about the only makes easily available on the High Street.

  Stuartli 23 Oct 09

Just to put the record straight, Sky has had various problems with its boxes over a number of years.

  D@ve 23 Oct 09

I agree with Stuartli. The set top box manufacturers, i.e. the Harvard group, are to blame here, not Freesat.

  dms_05 23 Oct 09

Stuarti - indeed Sky have had some problems like recently with Pace HD STB's. In this case the STB's were working but had a construction problem and Sky simply replaced them all.

I'm not suggesting the problem doesn't concern Harvard just that Harvard were a preferred supplier appointed by Freesat and initially were the major supplier to the market place so there will be lots of STB's out of warranty and not now working.

I hope Harvard sort the problem out soon for the sake of the STB owners.

  Stuartli 23 Oct 09

My best mate, who used to own and run an independent audio/visual/appliances retail outlet, retired more than two years ago.

He was experiencing quite a number of complaints from customers, who had signed up for Sky through him, about the company's set top boxes on a regular basis over a number of years before his retirement.

I would presume that the BBC and ITV, keen to ensure that Freesat was successful from the start, chose Harvard as a preferred supplier for a period to ensure that the newly developed equipment was available from the start of the service.

Personally I wouldn't go out of my way to seek out any of the brands involved...:-)

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