The freesat website had a few wobbles this morning, whether due to a surge in traffic or problems switching from the pre-launch content to the new look.
Initially there are just four high street retailers selling set-top boxes and arranging dish installation (if necessary) with an approved list of installers. So could Argos, Comet, Currys or John Lewis match the hype with the goods?
Time for some lunchtime mystery shopping. (Don’t hold your breath!)
Argos had the four set-top boxes listed (out of stock) on their website. Asking a member of staff in the city centre store if they had any freesat boxes in stock got a lost look.
“Freesat? What’s that?”
Helpfully, she went off to ask, rang someone, found the info on their public website, and checked the warehouse delivery dates for the catalogue numbers. She was surprised that there hadn’t been any kind of staff briefing yet about the launch. Set-top boxes should be in the warehouse by 11 May, and in the Belfast store a couple of days later. 0-1.
The nearest Comet store to Belfast is in Ayr, Scotland! A little too far away to go at lunchtime.
Wandering into the Belfast branch of Currys in Donegal Arcade, Castle Place (not quite how the Currys Store Finder describes the address!) and asking a staff member standing near the TV area about freesat confirmed that they’d no freesat boxes on display.
They did have a big delivery of stock this morning, but it hadn’t been unpacked yet so they didn’t know if there was any freesat gear. Might not. Should check back later in the afternoon (which I didn’t).
Oh, and searching the Currys website for “freesat” doesn’t bring up any freesat set-top boxes amongst the 50 or so nearest matches. 0-3.
So on the day of the launch, with the fanfare of publicity still ringing in consumers’ ears, there’s not a huge amount of freesat brand awareness in the four retailers shops or websites. And certainly no chance of actually getting your hands on a set-top box in Belfast.
Update - 9 May - one box now available in Currys / 14 May - and more in Argos.