/ 13 January 2019

Studies have shown that the British public believe we are in a ‘golden age’ of television. Not only are the standard and choice of shows bigger than ever before, but picture quality is incredible. In addition to their light weight and eco-credentials, Organic Light-Emitting Diode (‘OLED’) TVs boast the truest colours available on the market. Yet for some consumers, it seems they may not be the right choice.

Sue Croskery and her partner Barry talk to Ruth and Eamonn about their enjoyment of watching sport, films, soaps and series on a variety of channels. They are also avid football fans, and at the weekends they keep up with the very latest results from live fixtures by watching a sports channel typically for a few hours a day. Their shared passion meant that, when Sue inherited a small amount of money from her parents, she decided to spend a large part of it on a new television set. They bought a £2,499 OLED TV in February 2016; a “once-in-a-lifetime treat”.

After two years of ownership, an issue emerged with the TV. The colour and shape of the sports channel logo and it’s news ticker were constantly visible in the top right corner and across the bottom of the screen, regardless of the show or channel being watched. Sue says these images first appeared faintly in March 2018 and have become increasingly visible over time, totally ruining the couple’s viewing experience.

The TV came with a five-year warranty, so Sue assumed the issue would be easily resolved. However, when she complained to the retailer about her situation, she was referred to her TV’s user manual. The document warned “avoid displaying a fixed image on the television screen for a prolonged period”. She was then consult the online manual which also said “avoid displaying a fixed image on your television’s screen for a prolonged period of time (one or more hours for OLED”.

Sue says she had never heard of image sticking before and claims she was not warned about it during the process of purchasing her TV. She says that even after being referred to the manual she still assumed a ‘still image’ referred to a paused scene. Yet as she pursued her complaint via multiple avenues, Sue says she was repeatedly told that the damage to her TV was her own fault, caused by watching ‘too much’ of one channel with a permanent channel logo displayed on screen, and not covered by any guarantee.

Image retention and burn-in issues with OLED technology have been widely discussed by the tech industry. The emerging conclusion seems to be that burn-in is a phenomenon which, though rare for domestic consumers, is a definite risk in very specific circumstances. Do The Right Thing tries to identify exactly when that risk emerges, and how it can be avoided.

When we raised Sue’s experience with LG, they told us:

It would be impossible to state the number of hours at which point a static image may cause on-screen retention, as this is based on a number of factors including TV settings (eg brightness level and colour settings) and content displayed but screen retention is rare under normal conditions

If you’re seeking advice concerning a television you’d like to purchase or that you may already own, visit www.which.co.uk.