Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Freesat – it may have launched today, but don’t go looking for a set-top box in Belfast!

Freesat logo

So freesat launched today. Whoopee doo.

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.

Freesat website wobbles on the morning of their launch

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 in Belfast didn't have freesat boxes in stock today

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.

Comet's website doesn't have a link yet to order freesat boxes

The Comet website does have a dedicated freesat page, but no actual link to see or order the set-top boxes. 0-2.

Currys have an odd addressing technique

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.

No John Lewis stores in Northern Ireland to check out. Small matter of a judicial review ... or two. But a search on their website isn’t looking too positive. 0-4.

John Lewis website doesn't know about freesat

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.


Stephen Barnes said...

"Denegal" - isn't that where people from Cherry Velley keep their ceravens?

John Self said...

Sterling detective work Alan!

Timothy Belmont said...

Fear not, fellow-bloggers, I have noticed how shops, stores etc mis-spell the Belfast street-name "Donegall".
Of course, it is named after the Chichester family - Marquesses of Donegall - who spelled it this way to distinguish it from the town of Donegal.
I gave up pointing this historical fact to them all years ago.