OAP ‘panic’ at digital TV letter

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A SCARBOROUGH retailer has raised concerns that a letter sent to over 75s about the digital switchover is causing panic and confusion.

Louise Snell, manager of Walkers Euronics Centre in St Thomas Street, said that when the letter from the BBC’s Switchover Help Scheme came out, every other call was from some one who had received it and was unsure about what they had to do.

She said: “There’s just too much information on it - it’s very confusing.

“We’ve never had so many people phoning or calling into the shop about something.”

Mrs Snell added that she was worried the letter could encourage people to get something they don’t even need.

As well as offering a basic option of a freeview box with installation and aftercare for £40, the letter also gives other choices including a Panasonic 37” freesat HD LCD screen TV for £892.

Mrs Snell said: “The fact that there is a direct debit form with the letter has worried and upset a lot of people.

“They are just concerned about it all and don’t know what to do.”

Scarborough viewers will join the digital switchover on August 3 next year, as the country ends programming screened through analogue transmission.

The move will be carried out by Digital UK in two phases, with the Oliver’s Mount transmitter set to turn off BBC Two coverage on August 3, followed by a bar on the remaining analogue channels on August 17.

Switchover Help Scheme regional manager Emma Speed said: “Run by the BBC, the Switchover Help Scheme has helped hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people to switch to digital TV.

“People are eligible if they are aged 75 or over, get or could get certain disability benefits, are registered blind or partially sighted or have lived in a care home for more than six months. We send everyone eligible an information pack in the run-up to switchover, explaining the help on offer, and this is what people in Scarborough have received.

“First we tell them about the standard option, which is an easy-to use Freeview set top box, an approved installer to supply and install it and a 12 month aftercare service including a free helpline, installation and aftercare.

“This is everything they need to keep watching TV after switchover, and is available for a one-off cost of £40, or free to eligible people who are also on income-related benefits.

“For eligible people who would like a choice, we include a longer guide with a range of options including integrated televisions, digital recording equipment or Freesat, some at higher cost.

“We know this is a lot of information at once, so we have worked hard to make the information pack as simple as possible to understand, at the same time as telling people everything they need to know to decide whether the Help Scheme is for them.

“We also urge people to ring our friendly, patient information line so that we can talk them through what’s available and help them decide.

“The pack includes a form for people to apply, and people can choose to pay by card or by cheque.

“As with many service and retail providers, we can process card details for customers, either from the form or given to us over the telephone.

“We take customer privacy and security very seriously. All our staff have been security checked, and eligible people can be assured that our service is legitimate and as safe as it can be.”