Beware digital TV cowboys

PUBLISHED: 13:11 22 April 2009 | UPDATED: 09:00 18 June 2010

AS the switchover to digital television gets underway in East Devon, with Sidmouth ahead of the field, Consumer Direct and Digital UK warn residents to be on their guard against cowboy contractors looking to make a fast buck.

AS the switchover to digital television gets underway in East Devon, with Sidmouth ahead of the field, Consumer Direct and Digital UK warn residents to be on their guard against cowboy contractors looking to make a fast buck.

The switchover is expected to be completed throughout the South West by August.

In the last 12 months, advice service Consumer Direct has received scores of calls from South West residents who believe they have been targeted by cold-calling rogues offering unnecessary upgrades or charging exorbitant fees.

According to Digital UK, the independent not-for profit organisation leading the switchover, most households will not need a new aerial, but may need a 'set top' box to plug into the television.

Some TVs already have a digital box already inside (often called an Integrated Digital TV or iDTV). More information can be found at www.digitaluk.co.uk or by calling (08456) 50 50 50

Digital UK has teamed up with Consumer Direct to encourage residents who believe they may need a new aerial to use contractors who are 'Registered Digital Installers' (RDIs) and display the digital tick logo - this means they are approved and security-checked with the relevant qualifications and insurance.

A full listing of RDI installers in the West Country can be found at www.rdi-lb.tv. If householders cannot find a local RDI installer, they are advised to look for an installer registered with the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) Plus scheme or the Independent Digital Standards Commission (IDSC).

Consumer Direct and Digital UK have come up with some top tips to follow when upgrading or replacing your aerial:

* Think carefully before agreeing to have work done by an aerial installer who calls without an appointment and fails to show identification.

* Look for an aerial installer carrying the 'digital tick' logo first

* If you can't find one, look for a member of the recognised trade bodies (CAI or IDSC).

* If you do decide to go for an alternative, ask family and friends to recommend installers with a good track record and get written quotations for the work from at least two contractors.

* Before work starts, agree the price, payment arrangements and start/finish dates.

* Don't pay for work upfront.

Clive Kenyon, Consumer Direct South West contact manager said: "Consumer Direct is working with Trading Standards to make sure that vulnerable people do not fall prey to conmen whilst the switchover takes place, and support the work that all the agencies are doing to help and advise people about what they need to do".

Bill Taylor, South West regional manager for Digital UK added: "No one from Digital UK will call at your door, but sadly, there are always people who use clever and persuasive tactics to try to make a fast buck on the back of something new, so people need to be aware."

Further advice and information on all consumer issues is available by calling Consumer Direct on (08454) 04 05 06 or visiting the website at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.


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