Shoppers pushed to take Freesat install

Customers at high street stores are incorrectly being told they can only buy Freesat equipment if they also pay for an arranged installation.

Receivers are meant to be available on a standalone basis, allowing millions of people who already have a satellite dish to take home a set-top box, connect it and watch Freesat.

However, several Digital Spy forum members have reported that staff, mainly at branches of Currys, refusing to sell unless they pay extra for an engineer to install it.

Because the TV channels carried on Freesat's electronic programme guide originate from the same satellites that most consumer satellite dishes - including those fitted to receive Sky - already point to, Freesat services can be received by nearly all dishes in the UK simply by connecting a new set top box.

Some forum members have had to argue with staff before they are eventually sold a standalone box, while others have been told that dishes fitted for Sky will not work with Freesat.

Currys charges £100 for an installation including satellite equipment or £80 for an "assist installation" where an engineer will "check (the customer's) existing dish and cabling, install the Freesat box, configure the settings and give the customer a demonstration".

"I was not allowed to buy a Freesat box without installation in the Currys shop in Victoria last week," said London-based DS forum member ChrisD66. "The assistant manager was willing to do it as he understood it would work with my existing Sky dish, but he was overruled by the manager."

Incorrect information being given in stores will add to confusion among customers over the range of products available, and the difference between Freesat and non-subscription terrestrial service Freeview.

Another forum member, Bill6299, said: "I've been told at Currys that I have to have them install the Humax receiver. Also, another Currys here in West London told me that the only way that I could have HD would be to buy one of their Freeview TVs, where the BBC transmit five HD channels. So I went to Comet and bought one there and it is fine."

No HD channels are carried on Freeview and, though there are plans for four in the future, they will not be viewable on any equipment currently in shops.

Markynotts, from Nottingham, said: "The Currys salesman tried to tell me that only an authorised Sky engineer could install the Freesat box and that I was not allowed to touch the connection between my Sky box and the satellite dish at all.

"I replied by saying that Sky have nothing to do with the BBC's Freesat service and that I didn't need a dish, just the receiver. But he still refused to sell me the box."

A spokesman for DSG, which owns Currys and as well as other outlets, said it was not store policy to encourage installations.

"Customers looking to purchase Freesat boxes, which are available from Currys and stores, can do so without any installation services attached whatsoever," he said.