In the past six months, the Dutch Consumentenbond (Consumers Association) received almost 300 reports of apps disappearing from smart TVs that are less than five years old. The Association contacted the manufacturers to draw attention to this problem.
In recent years, the Consumers’ Association has received dozens of complaints via its community, Klachtenkompas (Complaints Compass), social media and telephone about apps that are disappearing from smart TVs. That is why in March 2018 the Consumers’ Association launched the hotline ‘Apps on smart TVs must continue to work’.
Many complaints received at the hotline concern relatively new televisions from three to five years old. Almost half of the complaints are about the NPO app tom the public broadcasters. In June last year, the NPO announced that it would stop supporting smart TVs from before 2014, as a result of which the app on these TVs would no longer work.
Furthermore, 20% complained about the disappearance of the YouTube app from their TV. Most complaints concern Samsung TVs (63%), the company with by far the largest market share for smart TVs. In addition, there are many complaints about Philips (21%), Sony (6%) and LG (5%).
Bart Combée, managing director Consumentenbond, commented: “For devices connected to the internet, it is essential that safety and functionality are guaranteed for a reasonable period of time. Consumers consciously buy a TV on which they can use apps and pay for it. Surely it is unacceptable that after three years the smart-TV part of the TV will no longer work properly. We will raise this problem with manufacturers and push for solutions. Consumers who recognize the problem of apps that disappear from their smart-tv, can still place their complaint at the hotline.”
The Association expects three actions from manufacturers:1) Measures to keep apps and software on smart-TVs working for the duration of their use, for example by making agreements with app-makers; 2) Promise that important apps on smart TVs will continue to work for at least 6 years. In other cases, consumers will receive an alternative solution or compensation; and 3) Offer compensation to consumers who are now victims, for example in the form of a free media player to continue using apps.
In their defence, manufacturers of the TV sets claim that the apps are the responsibility of the broadcasters, who decide to update their apps or not. In many cases, increased security measures make such updates mandatory.