9 December 2011
Pay TV packages and other television services are not always what the advertisements or the vendors say. Besides, the faults that occur are not always corrected as required.
Consumers have more and more choice when it comes to television programmes and platforms. In addition to traditional channels, viewers can subscribe to pay TV packages or opt for broadband television providing a broadband connection and a host of TV services. One can also pick specific programmes or films.
The diversity means that it is increasingly difficult for consumers to get an idea of the alternatives and their compatibility. The situation is made even more confusing when the information provided by the advertisements and vendors is misleading or incomplete.
It may even happen that the equipment and services the consumers are charged for are quite different from those promised. For example, the price demanded for the pay TV package may be much higher than the price originally given.
Moreover, not all vendors know enough about the products they sell. Even though television services are marketed by telephone and are available at such outlets as household appliance stores, shopping centres and kiosks, the sales staff are not always familiar with the content of the services and the restrictions concerning them. Even though television services may be difficult products for the sales staff, they must know their own obligations. The vendor must explain to the customer what the service includes and what it costs.
Occasionally, service providers also make changes to the contents of the service during the subscription period. They may drop the channel or the sports that was originally used for making the package attractive and that had prompted customers to select it.
Poor customer service has made the problems worse. Even though customers have been forced to queue at chargeable helplines, the faults have not been corrected or it has taken a long time to correct them. It has also proved difficult to terminate the subscription.
In order to improve the situation, the Finnish Consumer Agency and the Cooperation Organisation of Finnish Radio and Television Operators (RYT) have agreed on cooperation in the sector. A buyer’s guide to pay TV, viewable on the website of Kuluttaja magazine, provides consumers with advice in the selection of television services.