Householders are warned to be on their guard against doorstep salesmen insisting they need a new TV aerial before the digital switchover in 2009.
Cheshire Trading Standards officers have received several reports of traders cold-calling the elderly and vulnerable who claim their existing aerial will not receive a digital signal and urge them to pay for a replacement.
Digital UK, the not for profit organisation leading the switchover process, says most aerials will work perfectly well with digital TV.
Jo Waters, Granada Regional Manager for Digital UK, said: “There is no such thing as a digital aerial – as long as it is in good condition your current aerial should be able to receive a digital signal after the switchover.
“For the very small percentage of households that do need an aerial upgrade, we advise to only buy from reputable retailers and qualified installers – never from people who turn up without an appointment.”
The digital switchover for the Granada region is scheduled for 4 November 2009.
An aerial test on Teletext page 284 will help viewers to determine whether their aerial will be good enough to receive a digital signal.
Digital UK advises that the installation of a standard new roof aerial for one property should cost no more than £80-£100.
Trading Standards Investigations Manager Andrew Rees said: “We advise householders never to enter into contracts with traders who cold-call.
“Anyone requiring a new aerial should use a local supplier with a good reputation who is prepared to give customers time to think about a quote. Ensure the firm has an address and telephone number which can be verified.
“We recommend obtaining at least two quotes and, if possible, using businesses recommended by family or friends. And crucially, never part with cash up front.”
Digital UK is working in partnership with local charities and volunteers to provide advice and assistance for those who may need a little extra help.
Its Switchover Help Scheme offers assistance and equipment to convert one television for those aged 75 or over, registered blind or partially sighted, on certain disability benefits or living in a care home. Those eligible will be contacted in April-June 2009.
Further information and advice is available from the Digital TV helpline on 0845 6 50 50 50 or via the website http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/
Trading Standards can be contacted on 08454 04 05 06.