/ Technology

Manufacturers abandon support for tech products too quickly

Smart TV

Why should we have to constantly upgrade our technology products just to keep up-to-date? Our latest investigation finds manufacturers failing to maintain the services they were originally marketed to support.

My dad recently bought a new iPad Air to replace his first-generation iPad. He didn’t buy it for the upgraded design and functionality, but rather because the Sky Go streaming app no longer worked on his iPad 1, and he wanted to watch the cricket.

A Sky Go upgrade this spring meant that devices running iOS 5, including my dad’s iPad, were no longer supported. His tablet was only four years old and still in working order, but now it looks like a dusty relic of yesteryear.

Big brands, little commitment

We’ve been inundated with stories like this. People tell us about computers being left stranded without tech support; smartphones forgotten in software updates; and favourite smart TV apps disappearing into thin air.

As far as smart TV’s go, we’ve found manufacturers abandoning support for a host of apps, including BBC iPlayer and Netflix. In some cases manufacturers refuse to guarantee the availability of apps on their smart TVs, acknowledging that they may be removed without notice.

And in response to my Conversation ‘Smart TVs aren’t as smart as you think’, Keith Boothroyd shared his experience of buying a Hitachi smart TV from Argos so that he could use BBC iPlayer. However, he was dismayed when the catch-up TV app disappeared and the TV’s web browser proved useless.

Keith complained to Argos, and managed to secure a full refund on the TV as he could prove that it’s lack of key features meant it was not ‘as described, fit for purpose or of a satisfactory quality’ as outlined under the Sale of Goods Act.

We love our products, but some manufacturers would rather we bought shiny new versions just to keep getting the latest features and services. They’ve got commitment issues, and it’s time for a change.

What do the manufacturers say?

We contacted some of the biggest manufacturers and asked them to commit to ensuring that apps, services and software features that are used to sell a product will remain available for a reasonable product lifecycle. We had mixed responses. Panasonic told us:

‘We are fully supportive of Which?’s position. We are committed to providing our customers with a first-rate experience and work hard with our suppliers to maintain a good service.’

But Samsung told us:

‘Samsung is unable to guarantee the availability of any application on any specific television model. Content providers may remove applications from the Samsung smart TV platform without notice.’

Make your voice heard

You have every right to a reasonable lifespan for the products you buy, and this should extend to support for the services these products are marketed with in the place. A new Consumer Rights Bill, currently being debated in Parliament, will strengthen the consumers’ hand bringing law into the 21st century and making your rights clearer on digital content.

In the meantime, we want to hear your stories and experiences so that we can build a groundswell of support to challenge the manufacturers to do the right thing by all their customers.


“”I have not met many subscribers who see this as an important issue,”. BEUC that represents EU consumer groups, and the EU, see this as an important issue. I don’t know what consumers would think when informed of the real cost of ownership of durable and non-durable products and products that cannot be economically repaired. Perhaps you have seen an authoritative survey that says consumers don’t want durability? Eventually I suspect environmental pressures will lead us in the right direction, but as our principal representative I would like Which? to present much more useful information on products – repairability, durability, likely life, so consumers can be informed. Maybe a super campaign would be useful?

Like my parents I have been keen on durable and repairable products all my adult life. At present I’m listening to Radio 4 on my 1975 Hacker Hunter radio, which still works well. The best way forward is to move towards long guarantees since these allow consumers to buy with confidence that they will not be faced with costly repairs or the cost of replacement providing that they do not abuse products.

In the case of smart TVs, the involvement of third parties make it difficult to be sure how long software will remain available. Internet-enabled TVs would allow users to download alternative software, just like they can for a computer or phone.

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I consulted many of these books in our central library in my younger days. 🙂 Whereas my old radio remains repairable and I could probably source most of the electronic components if needed, that would be much more difficult with a modern design.

I bought a new LG just a few short weeks ago and out of the box the Catchup via the EPG failed to work. I have since found lots of LG owners both new and older have exactly the same issue. It can be made to work by retuning all of the channels each time the set is switched on, but as soon as switched off they disappear. LG’s response has been initially say they cannot reproduce the issue, but they have been more honest with others in agreeing that they have received lots of complaints. Nice set apart from this issue, so I would be reluctant to claim a refund, but….

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I have a 3 year old Samsung smart tv I have contacted Samsung to update my youtube app they have said my tv is too old to update this is not good I wish Ihad not purchase this tv also I have bought a uhd Samsung smart tv will the same happen to the apps on this set this practice of not supporting the reasons why we buy smart tv has got to be sort

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Tom says:
20 March 2017

I too have a 3 year old Samsung that no longer supports the apps I use. When I contacted Samsung they were unconcerned and simply stated they don’t keep their software current.

Sandra says:
3 October 2017

I have a Samsung UE55f8000 tv which I paid £2800 for four years ago it was sold to me as future proof for five years Via something called a smart evolution module which you can plug into the back of the tv, I thought that as my tv is now 4 years old I would get this years module to upgrade my tv, only to find out upon contacting Samsung that they have not made a module for my tv since 2014 and do not intend to do so in the future. I am absolutely fuming as I could have bought a much cheaper tv but wanted to future proof so went for this one. When I contacted Samsung they were unconcerned.

If the retailer has put this in writing, that would form part of the contract and you would have a claim under the Sale of Goods Act. (The Consumer Rights Act replaced it in 2015.) If it was verbal information you might be best just to buy a plug-in box as others have suggested.

It seems that all manufacturers are playing the same game with consumers and it would be good to learn of any manufacturer that does enable their TVs to be kept up to date for at least ten years.

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I was expecting you to fill in the details, Duncan. 🙂 My TV is very dumb and will remain so because I’m happy to watch iPlayer and YouTube on a laptop.

I wish Which? had taken action when the first smart TV stopped working properly. Every TV review should carry a warning so that everyone is aware that their smart TV is unlikely to continue to work properly within a few years.

I would pursue this. As wavechanger said, if this was in writing then it a contract, however a verbal contract is still a contract you just need to be able to backup what your saying as its one word against another. I would look at all the information about future proofing and your TV, also look at how it was advertised in all formats this will support what you are saying. If you purchased from a store it maybe worth asking them about futureproof TVs and what guarantee is offered that future proofing will cover the TV for the time stated. You could also look at other sites that sell your TV to see if (in the more information part maybe) there is any information on this futureproffing and what promises have been made or implied. Hope this helps.

My Hitachi 32HBJ46U (purchased April 2016 £219.99) was working on www button (wired input from modem) a month ago. When I tried it last week the www screen opened with pages of text – a Vestel Smart Portal Agreement that has to be signed in order to access http://www. The agreement T&C’s are several pages long and my “Agree” would seem to enable world-wide snooping in my living room. What should I do? Should Smart TV snooping be controlled by GCHQ instead of a Turkish/Global company?

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We bought a Sony Bravia Smart TV some years ago and were under the impression that we would be able to watch both ITV and BBC Iplayer. When we set it up we were soon to discover that it did not include ITV player. This was most annoying. I would expect to be able to receive iplayer for the life of the television.

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Xeroxwizard says:
10 March 2018

Apps for life? Yer right. I just looked at the menu on my old LG and that is exactly what it says. They never mention this when you are buying the ****ing thing! I am going to look into third party software for my trusty old fat lcd telly. I will probbly brick it then bin it!

I have purchased a Panasonic EX580 from Currys 6 days ago. Yesterday, all apps except Freeview and BBC iPlayer stopped working. Tried everything possible such as restarting and resetting the router but nothing happens. All other devices connected to internet were working fine. A message appearing on TV ; connection to server failed, quoting error number 006. On internet search , it appears that Panasonic re route apps traffic through their servers and they were down. Checked Panasonic Facebook page and realised that other users were having the same problem at that time. I am thinking to return the product but not sure weather this happens only on Panasonic , or other brands as well. If this is a common problem in other brands then there is no point in exchanging the TV of another brand. What is your view?

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Xeroxwizard says:
10 March 2018

I have a LG ‘smart tv’ . Why Roku? Is that a brand. Will Roku last forever?

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My Sky badged Roku box has started to play up after a few years service. It only cost £10 in a sale, no I’m not too bothered by that.

BBC / Panasonic still cannot solve the failure of iPlayer services on the DX series of TVs. It’s been over 6 months and nothing is done. Can Which apply some leverage>

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Sorry for digging this old post up, and I do appreciate the Which position – in part. However Which is a Consumers association and should be following through with pressure on the supply chain in regards to consumer protection. In the case in point I have patently waited for Panasonic / BBC to sort out the issues with the DX series of TVs, of which mine is one and is on the BBC list of approved TVs your reply pointed to. I don’t expect Which to solve the matter technically but their weight in Consumer Law could be used to at least get Panasonic/BBC to admit what the issue is and to advise what is being done to solve it. When you buy a product you expect all features to work for some years – and you expect some support service from the supply chain. At present I fear that Panasonic and the BBC are just taking the view “Only a couple of thousand DX TVs are affected lets lie low and hope the problem will go away”

So why can’t Consumer Law help in getting resolution?

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I bought a Sony Smart TV in December, it was fine at first, by February it was not opening any of the apps, I have followed the instructions, it is connecting to my WiFi and I have searched for upgrades. Not working, feel properly ripped-off. I went on line and sent a message to Sony tech. I have to agree to £22 fee if they fix the problem, needless to say, I am annoyed and very disappointed.

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If I’m not mistaken, Jill’s post is the first that mentions the possibility that the TV can be upgraded. I wonder if manufacturers will offer this service in future. If so, I hope that customers will be told how long their apps will last and what the update fee will be, prior to purchase.

It’s interesting that sat nav manufacturers were charging silly prices for updating maps and now this is available free of charge.

Many TVs have software updates in a menu – and a lot by default check for it in the middle of the night and install it on the hoof.

Thanks Roger. I have no experience but from what I have read, apps stop working and the user is not offered the opportunity to update them.

I can confirm also that software updates get fewer and further between with age of TV set. My Panasonic is now, I think, 6 years old and has not been updated in more than 2 years.

Both my Samsung sets are even older, and although there was an update the other day, it did nothing to fix the dysfunctional Rightmove App. It did remove a few though (which had failed to work some time beforehand)

I notice this thread has been running now for almost 5 years and as yet we don’t seem to be getting any support from Which? Will they ever fight our corner and make these unscrupulous companies accountable for their appalling attitude to consumers? Must we all continue to be test engineers in an ever evolving cycle of recycling? We constantly hear how we must all do our bit to protect the environment but I wonder how many so called ‘SMART’ gadgets have been sent to landfill since this article was first written?

Hi Slinky, I don’t if Which? alone would be capably of ending the common practice for so-called SMART TV’s to rapidly fall out of software support after only 2 or 3 years.

If, however, enough Which? members were to raise this as a priority for Which? to tackle, them I’m sure they’d be happy to allocate more resources to it. It would certainly be interesting to see a few test cases put forward under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.


Post-Brexit, it might even be good to try and think about having a UK standard for software longevity on smart devices.

At the moment, I think devices tend to fall out of being “software maintained”
after all sorts of different timescales, for example:

Cheap Android devices and expensive SMART TV’s are only maintained for about 3 years. After that, updates may not be available, so their smart functionality may become either diminished or even lost completely.

Apple devices seem to be supported for about 6 years.

Windows PC’s seem to be supported for about 10 years.

Currently, I reckon the actual maximum useful life of a PC is about 15 years, before the hardware becomes too slow to be practically useful for any on-line activity.

Dumb appliances, like ordinary TV’s, record players, radios, computer printers, white goods and so on can have much longer service lives.

Currently, as consumers, I think we are all partly to blame for letting manufacturers get away with these limited product lifetimes.

But if we refuse to accept the responsibility for anything that we’ve done, sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.

Hi Slinky – We don’t see you much on Convo these days. Welcome back.

I agree with Derek that consumers should take action against planned obsolescence. We hear of successful class actions in US when consumers have been let down. That’s not very British but could be effective. Ideally it should have been done when smart TVs were launched.

It concerns me that the introduction of smart features to products such as white goods will result in earlier replacement for a variety of reasons including loss of functionality, security risk and pressure to buy the latest products.

I worry that we might only be seeing this as a UK problem and relying on our “local” consumer organisation to try to deal with it.

It is an international problem, with the major companies supplying products to far more consumers than just us and, no doubt, these consumers are just as dissatisfied as we are. We need to enlist the combined weight of all these consumers to make an effective challenge to these bad practices.

I suggest we should be asking Which? to join forces with their European sister organisations, presumably under the BEUC umbrella, and together deal with the issues. It is a problem presumablycommon to us all and should be dealt with on a common basis.

There are other issues I believe ought to also be addressed collectively. Online market places selling products that do not meet or ignore safety regulations such as Amazon and eBay, for one.

We cannot be insular if we are to be effective.

I wonder if anyone has made a claim under the Consumer Rights Act when their TV loses functionality due to an outdated app. I do not have a smart TV so I have not needed to try this.

I’d suggest loss of functionality, unless it was made clear it would be limited at the time of purchase, should be eligible for a claim under the Consumer Rights Act. Lack of “durability” might be the appropriate contract condition to cite that has been broken. The claim would have to be made through the retailer as they are the entity with which the purchaser made the contract when buying goods.

Who, though, would be prepared to assemble the case and take this to court if the retailer refused liability. It is not the single case that needs to be won but a precedent needs to be set. This would allow future such claims to be processed more easily but, more usefully, send a message to retailers that the precedent has been set and affected customers have legitimate claims that are ignored at their (legal) peril.

There are difficulties of course. How long is it reasonable to expect this sort of functionality to last? Does that depend upon the price paid?

I believe test cases like this should be taken up by Which? as a key part of its duty to protect consumers. At present these sorts of issues just drift on, with half-hearted attempts to interest government and the interminable time that would then entail in getting any action.

When a computer or phone reaches the end of the manufacturer’s period of support it has not developed a fault in the normal sense but the manufacturer has ceased to provide support. The government did pay for extended support for Windows XP beyond the well publicised support period but that option has not been made available to consumers in the UK. In the case of mobile phones, which continue to evolve rapidly, I have seen it suggested that it may not be practical for technical reasons to extend support for as long as some people would like.

The EC is trying to introduce an obligation to supply spares for 7 – 10 years for certain household items: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/QANDA_19_5889 It would make sense to do the same for specifying a minimum period for which hardware will be supported and providing this information for prospective purchasers. Microsoft makes the lifecycle of its Windows software easy to find but it’s important that this information is available at the time of purchase.

I suspect that software support fits under the digital rights section of the CRA, though it would be useful to have an expert’s opinion.