StarSat silent amidst ongoing flood of complaints

2014-01-09 14:32
Cape Town – A growing number of upset and despondent StarSat subscribers are outraged and angry about what they call a lack of service and help from the pay-TV operator, bad TV signal quality, broken promises, and "non-existent" call centre customer service.

The flood of complaints started following the pay-TV operator On Digital Media's (ODM) and Chinese backer StarTimes' switch from TopTV to the new name of StarSat at the end of 2013, together with the switch of transmission of its channels from Germany to Beijing just before Christmas forcing subscribers with black screens to reset their decoders.

From just before Christmas complaints from exasperated StarSat subscribers have been flooding in, with new complaints on a daily basis in 2014, many fearing a StarSat meltdown.

StarSat subscribers are wondering why they have to struggle so much to try and reach the call centre with many saying they've simply given up, wondering why their decoders are not working, and what the cause of the new technical troubles at the Woodmead based pay-TV operator are.

Since the change from the TopTV brand name to StarSat at the end of 2013, Channel24 has heard from an ongoing number of StarSat subscribers complaining bitterly about a growing list of problems.

StarSat, and its public relations company Magna Carta, haven't responded publicly to a media enquiry made on Monday 6 January seeking comment or any explanations for why StarSat subscribers are not getting their TV channels, why they have to reset their decoders, or what StarSat wants to say to subscribers.

Ongoing StarSat service complaints

StarSat didn't respond as to why there is suddenly so many complaints about non-existent and bad customer service, what is happening with the pay-TV service, why there is the daily complaints regarding the call centre, why StarSat call centre operators are not able to answer questions, and the long waiting time.

Since late December some StarSat subscribers who wanted to upgrade to the imported new StarSat decoders from China said that they're not working.

StarSat subscribers are wondering why the company promised the channels of eKasi+, eAfrica+ and eMovies+ as part of the new channels bouquet only for the company to quietly backtrack and these channels from its list in December.

StarSat also lost the TLC channel from Discovery Networks International (DNI) which came as a huge shock to StarSat subscribers.

StarSat subscribers are also upset about the bad transmission quality of certain channels, complaining that some channels – such as the new Nat Geo Gold channel and Star Movies channels – suffer from ongoing bad sound and degrading video pixelation problems.

StarSat subscribers are also complaining that they've lost all or some of their TV channels on existing decoders and don't know how, or are struggling, to get it back. That's after ODM switched its satellite transponder uplinking of channels from Germany to Beijing at the end of 2013. It caused an unexpected blackout and loss of transmission for a few hours which caught ODM by surprise.

StarSat's Christmas day present to subscribers, many without internet access, was the on-screen message: "Clients who are unable to view certain or all channels, should refer to the StarSat website or Facebook. If the solution provided does not solve the issue, please call the contact centre."

'Poor viewing since StarSat took over'

Channel24 called StarSat's call centre numerous times the past two weeks. While a caller has to wait to get to a speaking call centre operator, StarSat continuously loops the recorded message, "if you TV screen is currently black, please reset your decoder" with details on what subscribers have to do with their decoders to receive TV channels again.

There's been no explanation from StarSat of why the uplinking switch-over wasn't handled smoothly, why the loss of transmission occured, or why StarSat subscribers, weeks later, are still struggling so much to get their channels restored.

Prepaid StarSat subscriber Bevan Bailey is just one of many who told Channel24 on Wednesday of the "consumer distress" because StarSat "doesn't have the audacity to even reply to customers' complaints on their Facebook page or telephonically. They're just not helpful or have a line of communication open".

Nigel Roets is disappointed with the "broadcasting and sound" of StarSat channels. "The majority of all the channels freeze for a split second for approximately every 5 to 10 minutes and the sound quality is very poor especially with the movie channels and this is happening all the time. This has been going on since December and if this is not sorted out soon I will have no choice but to cancel my subscription."

Sanjay Prasad from Johannesburg says StarSat's "channels are freezing and the shows are not corresponding with the guide times and some channels remain blank the whole day due to signal problems".

"We are paying for a service which is now proving to be totally unsatisfactory and frustrating to the viewer and StarSat has no plan to credit us for this wasted service.”

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