/ 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.

Comments
Dean says:
29 May 2015

I spent £2600 on a Panasonic smart 3D VT30 Neo plasma set about 2 years ago now and was so delighted by having the Youtube app which I use quite frequently, one of the reasons I bought it in the first place aswell as being a great quality set. Now I am fuming that I have lost Youtube on the TV also my top of the range Panasonic smart Blu Ray player absolute con. Furious is not the word.

Tim says:
29 May 2015
rachel says:
1 June 2015

We bought a Samsung TV for just under £700 in April with the idea of having a smart TV and use of apps. We only did so to avoid having an ongoing subscription service with BT.

Unfortunately the apps such as iplayer, netflicks etc, Samsung have still not managed to get licenced use for 2015 and so we can’t use them on this so called smart TV.

I really like the new TV but it was sold to us with the idea that these functions are available and John Lewis have said they will accept a return, but what’s the point if all these technology companies are so flaky with guaranteeing service of licenced channels.

I really wanted to get away from having a second box to provide the above services hence expensive purchase, but it seems that it is a con – If I pay my TV licence fee it should allow me at least to use the BBC iplayer services on the TV and I should not have to go through companies such as Sky, Now TV, Virgin, BT to get what I have already paid a licence fee for.

sean says:
7 July 2015

I too bought a samsung smart UHD TV at the end of June 2015. BBC player and BBC sport do not work even though the app downloaded – and is shown on their smart hub. Apps were shown on the shop display models and assistants assured they were functioning. Very disappointed and at the very best this is misleading – I suspect the retailers know these apps don’t work?

Ahmad says:
8 June 2015

The YouTube App also disappeared from my parents’ Samsung TV a few weeks ago, but when checking yesterday, it’s now back and it looks like the App’s been updated as it looks different now. Have Samsung done the obvious and updated the App and released it to everyone now?

Will says:
15 June 2015

Bought a 43″ Samsung UE43J5600 Smart TV last week. Curry’s tell me that Samsung are the only ones with ITV player. However when I got it home I find that ITV player is not in the list of Apps and the BBCi player App just says sorry service not available. Samsung say they should have these working soon!!! What do I do, wait and hope or return the set as not “as described, fit for purpose or of a satisfactory quality”?

John says:
15 June 2015

Ahmad. Take it back as missold and not suitable for use for which it was sold. Spend the money on a decent non smart tv and buy an add on streamer for £50 or so. Far more flexible,

I am about to try to return a Panasonic plasma i bought 3 years back which was sold to me on the basis of its ability to view youtube. it was bought from a panasonic shop. Has anybody any relevant experience on treading this route?

Anita says:
15 June 2015

Below is my previous post from January. Now I have lost not only You Tube but also Channel 5 on demand app and BBC News app stopped working now altogether. Despite phoning Sony customer centre several times it’s not working. Surely they must have the licence? from BBC since BBC iplayer is working ok. I am absolutely furious!
Total waste of money!!

‘I have sony 32″ bravia smart tv which I bought from Amazon in march 2012. I still have iPlayer working (wonder now how long for) but BBC news app stopped working a few weeks back, icon still there on screen but “app not found”.
Posted 26 January 2015 at 8:35 pm’

mike jones says:
5 September 2016

Same Sony TV but iplayer not available since start of September. Suspect it is related to the new BBC rules re license. Bought it from costco with 5 year warranty As no terrestrial reception in our location , iplayer is vital. Will have words with Costco.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

ck says:
3 July 2015

More of the same ……….My panasonic blue ray player with i/net capability. Bought to get to you tube on tv ( even though its generally poorish quality display , poor sound its provided without specific charge unlike BBC , Sky, etc and serves its purpose – thank you google ) Works ok until recently then no you tube service. I agree this obsolescence game must be stopped by consumer protection similar to that which requires suppliers to keep parts available for 7 years. What is the EU doing ? Outmaneuvered as usual what a surprise.

VL says:
7 July 2015

Sony Bravia TV bought from John Lewis 2 1/2 years ago, now not able to play any of the channels for which I bought it. I realised that Sony didn’t have a licence for ITV player, but other main catch-up channels were available, so happy enough and naively wondered if ITV might join in time. Never assumed all the others would disappear instead.

Brig O Lea says:
10 July 2015

Bought a new 2015 Samsung TV last week, couldn’t switch it on faulty remote. Got it working with phone app. 10 days for replacement remote! Got it working with phone app. Then connected Samsung D3 hdd , on Usb 3.0 port on TV TV couldn’t see it , Samsung didn’t know, promised to phone back, still waiting. TV could see home network through USB port! Connected HDD to sub 2.0 port and D3 drive appeared and network drives disappeared! Usb 3.0 port and sub drive seemed logical but hey ho obviously not.
New Samsung remote arrived and hey ho BBC I player doesn’t work , Samsung working on it but unable to estimate date! Just take money and customer has to wait! Samsung site advertises Iplayer available and itv player available after May. Wonder what other features won’t work as I explore with my remote.
Very disappointed in Samsung and retailer ( John Lewis who had to contact Samsung to find this out. TV going back

dave says:
20 July 2015

after having 2 smart tvs 1 lg and 1 hitachi i have come to the concullsion that the smart functions on tvs are usually only good for about a year and i have given up using them. if you buy a raspberry pi 2 £35 and with minimal fidling around you can get this setup gives you pretty much every function you have on the smart tv but with one great thing it stays up to date with latest codecs etc 🙂 and plays everything check osmc website there you can get a free media centre which does everything and is easy to install

I just bought a Samsung 32″ Smart TV. Not such a smart move. There is no BBC iPlayer support. I can’t seem to find which TV manufacturer has got a good track record in supporting these apps.

David says:
10 October 2015

We bought a great panasonic smart tv earlier this year but we’ve never got amazon prime to work. Did a load of research re amazon prime on other Tvs and came up with a Samsung. Amazon prime works brilliantly, but no iplayer. No idea what to get instead. So infuriating.

George says:
26 July 2015

“I can’t seem to find which TV manufacturer has got a good track record in supporting these apps”

David, I don’t think there is one. All the manufacturers treat their smart tv customers with contempt. Best thing if you want smart is make sure the set has enough hdmi and possibly usb sockets and get an add on like a Roku stick and other similar devices mentioned in this blog.

Don’t touch smart, they all turn dumb PDQ.

Perplexed says:
26 July 2015

Have two Panasonic viera tv’s and have lost the apps on both, not a happy bunny!!!!
I feel very let down as they were part of the package (or so I thought). Very unfair.

I to have a panasonic smart tv purchased in on 27/7/2015. It had two apps for BBC Iplayer available. The normal one plus a test one. The normal did not work but the test did. Now just a few weeks the test vanished and the normal app still does not work.

Sorting out my pc, I want to reinstall the drivers for my Samsung DVD player.

Samsung have a page dedicated to the player but no drivers. Someone has even posted to the page asking for the drivers but no response from Samsung.

So I have a choice of downloading them from what could be a dodgy website or buying a new DVD player.

If manufacturers won’t support their products, why can’t they work with download sites to provide a reliable download service? They could easily put links on their websites to tell you where you can safely download drivers and support manuals.

If I do buy another DVD player, it won’t be Samsung.

Alfa,

Most modern OSes have built-in DVD drivers but the software to decrypt and play commercial pre-recorded DVDs is restricted proprietary software. Hence Samsung may not be allowed to provide copies of it for free.

You might try installing a free copy of VLC media player to see if that includes the codecs you need.

Thanks Derek, but my problem is that the player won’t read some disks. I will reseat the device and try and delete and reinstall drivers from my pc before buying another one but I have suspected the device to be faulty for a while.

Downloading the latest drivers would have been something to try if they had been available.

Hi alfa,

If you can read some discs but not others of the same type, that could be a hardware fault. For simple mechanical and optical devices, the things that CD and DVD drives can do really are amazing but that also means they can easily go wrong.

A while ago I had an old secondhand Toshiba laptop on which Windows 7 would not recognize the DVD drive at all; it kept insisting was a problem with the device driver.

Installing a new system disc with a dual boot configuration of both Vista and LXLE confirmed that the problem was a software one inside that particular Windows 7 build. Swopping the old W7 disc into another Toshiba laptop then reproduced the problem there…

Hi Derek,

I have run the MS Fix CD/DVD drive diagnostic several times with different discs and it appears that I can’t read certain media types. The player is at least 5 years old and seems to be able to read older DVDs ok. The discs I want to read are ok on a newer laptop. Seems I am not alone with these problems.

Looks like a new drive…….

I blame all this on Which? abandoning support for IE9 😥 or maybe I should be thanking them for making me update my PC……….. 😕

SSDs were on the expensive side when I bought the PC and I was assured I would only need a 40GB drive to run Win7. I was sceptical and should have known better but went ahead anyway.

The last time I did any MS updates was when Service Pack 1 failed due to lack of space 😳
and I couldn’t upgrade Internet Explorer without installing SP1.

So I finally got round to installing the 240GB SSD 😀

So I did all the Windows Updates and now have IE11.

While I was at it, I thought I would install a newer version of MS Office. So uninstalled the old one then discovered the DVD drive would not read the disc.

So I bought a new DVD drive, then discovered I didn’t have a spare sata cable. Put the PC back together again, switched on the PSU and it went pop and died 👿

So I bought a new PSU, installed that today and phew, it works 😎

I was then able to install Office and I now have a fully working PC again 😀

And all because Which? have abandoned support for IE9 in their new look convos !!!!!

Hi Alfa, thanks for letting me know about that. We haven’t launched yet and should be supporting IE9. Only 1.8% of our visitors use IE9, but we plan to support it. Sorry for any problems it caused!

Hi Patrick,

You did me a favour really as I have been putting off updating my PC for a long time. I was getting rather fed up of web pages not displaying properly and I have had the larger SSD for some time.

I just didn’t figure needing a new optical drive and PSU at the same time !!!

Also discovered afterwards the PSU is still under warranty so will be chasing that up !!!

Jayne says:
31 July 2015

My comment seems to have disappeared as well. Just like to say there are no guarantees with the manufacturers when you buy a new smart tv, they can take away the apps whenever they feel like.
Sony, or any other make of TV’s will not give you an answer on how long the apps will be on there for.
It seems you have to buy a new TV every 2 years???? That cannot be right?? something or someone needs to do something. Don’t we have consumer rights here?? Sale of Goods Act.
J robinson

Jayne says:
31 July 2015

email me when new comments are added

Mike Smyth says:
12 August 2015

I was less than impressed when Sony decided to remove the Youtube app from my KDL-32ex503
Now I have noticed that BBCi Player will not load . Sony support are not at all helpful . I am convinced that their instructions to fix this issue were to send me on a wild goose chase . (Contact your service provider and ask them to turn off the firewall settings .) Virgin Media tell me this is not the problem . The BBC Iplayer people advised me to go into Settings and let them know some technical information . Despite telling them that BBC iPlayer will not load . Next step was to phone John Lewis as my TV is still under warranty . They are unaware of any issues with Sony Bravia TV,s regarding BBC iPlayer and say this problem is not covered under warranty . None of the above are helpful . They are just passing the buck . So much for Customer Service .

John says:
17 August 2015

People are talking a lot about not being covered under the warranty as if this was relevant. I was sold my Panasonic on the basis of it being able to view youtube. There was no mention of the possibility of this facility being withdrawn at a later date, therefor this must come under sale of goods act, it was a service I purchased, there was no limitation stated on that service at the time. I will be attempting to return my TV despite it being 3 years old on this basis. Would be good to here what success others have had.

Lucky4Holly says:
27 August 2015

I am really disappointed that my Vizio smart tv suddenly stopped having Youtube. It looks like it is there but it is useless. I watched all of my educational videos for school on that tv in my room. Depressing!

I have a panasonic vierra smart tv which had various apps including Facebook which has now disappeared & won’t reinstall as it’s no longer available! We also have trouble using the web browser & can’t stream movies full stop! It’s a joke, a very expensive joke!