Retailer calls rivals' bluff on "HDMI scam"

5 Jul 2011
HDMI cable

Kogan will give its £4 cable to John Lewis and Currys' customers for free

Upstart retailer Kogan is threatening to shame retailers who attempt to sell expensive HDMI cables.

The Australian electronics firm - which opened shop in the UK at the beginning of the year - is attempting to shame rivals such as Currys and John Lewis for pushing customers to buy overpriced HDMI cables for their new televisions.

Kogan is offering TV buyers a free HDMI cable with proof of TV purchase from one of its competitors, to prove that its £4 cable is as good as the £20, £50 and £100 alternatives on sale at rival stores. It may even extend the offer to PC buyers.

"When you buy a TV from John Lewis, Currys, or countless other high street stores, you will be offered hideously expensive accessories such as HDMI cables," the company said in a blog post. "These cables are sold with absolutely ridiculous markups, many multiples of the actual cost of the items."

"These stores are trying to trick people into thinking they need an HDMI lead costing over £100 after buying a Full HD TV. This is simply not the case. You shouldn't be spending more than £4 on an HDMI cable," it said.

"An HDMI cable is an HDMI cable," Kogan added. "It's a digital cable. You either get a picture or you don't. Don't get conned into buying a 'fancy' HDMI cable because it will make no difference!"

A Kogan spokesperson said the deal may eventually be extended to PC buyers, but said TV sales were the "main realm where the scam is occurring". "If this starts occurring more and more with tablets and PCs, Kogan will certainly consider broadening the campaign," the spokesperson said.

Variety of prices

John Lewis and Currys-parent DSGi denied the upselling claims, saying they helped customers buy the "right" cable.

"We sell a large range of HDMI cables with different specifications and prices tailored to our customers' needs," said a spokeswoman for DSGi's retail arm. "Our entry level HDMI cable is currently on sale at £7.99 and our most expensive cable is at £100.99."

"In the rapidly changing technologies that surround TV we have highly trained staff in store to guide customers to making the right choice for their TV," she claimed. "It's not just about the quality of signal and image that HDMI cables can provide, particularly in higher-end televisions, it is also about the protection from interference and the long-time durability of the cables."

A spokeswoman for John Lewis echoed that response, saying the retailer offered a "wide range of options" with cable prices starting from £20 to £99. “Each of our HDMI cables offers excellent quality and value for money, and by providing our customers with a range of different cables which offer different specifications, we are able to help them find one to suit their specific needs, with features such as different cable lengths, ultra slim and high speed," she said.

"We advise customers to consider purchasing an HDMI cable which matches the quality of their television's components," she added. "For instance, a cable suitable for a premium 3D TV would not be required for many of our mid-range TVs. We pride ourselves on offering excellent customer service, and will always aim to advise our customers to buy the product that is right for them.”

HDMI cables on the latest 1.4 specification should work for any TVs, including 3D models. The HDMI spec is split out into five different types to make buying easier for consumers; the cable on offer from Kogan is the top rated "high-speed HDMI cable with Ethernet".

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