5 On Your Side

Group: Some Retailers Mislead Customers About DTV

Posted February 13, 2008 1:43 p.m. EST
Updated February 20, 2008 3:57 p.m. EST

— Beware of what you hear about the upcoming digital television transition. A national consumer group issued that warning after it found that some retailers have been misleading consumers.

The North Carolina chapter of the Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, refers to it as a serious case of "mixed signals."

One year from next week, television will undergo a huge change to digital. People who rely on an outdoor antenna or rabbit ears to watch TV will no longer be able to get a usable signal unless they take action.

After sending secret shoppers to dozens of retail stores, PIRG found sales people across the country who gave out erroneous information about DTV.

In North Carolina, 70 percent of the sales clerks questioned by PIRG’s shoppers gave out wrong information.

“This will cost consumers both time and money,” said Kat Scott with PIRG. “In the worst case scenario, instead of purchasing a basic $40 converter box, consumers may be led to believe that they need to purchase a brand new digital television, which can run upwards of $400.”

Some stores are starting to sell the basic converter boxes that Scott mentioned. The federal government is offering coupons to help pay for the boxes.

The boxes convert digital signals back to the kind of signal that standard televisions can display.

For more information about the coming change, see WRAL's