LG has urged its channel partners to come to the vendor's aid and placate angry customers affected by a bug in many models of its televisions.
For several weeks, models of LG televisions with in-built digital tuners have frozen or "locked" up while viewing digital programming. The problem - which could only be circumvented by switching off the power and unplugging the television from the wall for at least 20 minutes - outraged thousands of LG users, many of whom have bombarded online blogs to berate LG over the issue.
There have also been reports of consumers storming into their local retailer demanding a refund.
Yesterday, LG finally identified the cause of the problem after several weeks of testing.
"We would ask retailers to pass on the information we have made available to consumers - that there is a simple software update to be undertaken," AV marketing manager, Darren Goble, told ARN.
The glitch exists across several models of LG LCD, plasma, rear projection and CRT televisions [see list at the end of this story].
Goble said the vendor is putting in place a dedicated call centre to handle the issue.
In the meantime, a website has been set-up at www.lgdtv.com.au/softwareupgrade where consumers can log on and register for the upgrade.
Goble said LG had committed to sending out engineers to update the software on any affected LG product - whether it is in consumer's homes or in the warehouses and shop displays of retailers. But he acknowledged that it wouldn't be able to reach all its channel partners.
"Where it's not possible, alternative arrangements will be made," he said.
In the meantime, LG is already updating the software on stock it holds in its own warehouses, so that new product will be available within the next few days.
"It's more accessible for us to undertake upgrades of the stock in our own warehouses first," Goble said.
He was in no position to advise retailers on how they should handle customer's demanding refunds on the products. When asked about the scale of the issue, he said it was bigger than LG could handle on its own.
"It's big," he said. "We will definitely be outsourcing some of the [upgrades] work. Those negotiations are in place as we speak."
The problem, he said, was specifically a mismatch between the data processing function within LG's encoders and the packaging of digital signal under certain "rare transmission circumstances."
According to contributors on the DVT Forum website, the problem first occurred as far back as December last year. Some consumers claim that LG, and many of its retail partners, blamed broadcasters such as Channel Nine.
It was only after the mainstream newspapers got on-board that LG acknowledged it had a problem.
Goble said LG has been working for some weeks to figure out what was a complex, rare technological hitch.
"There was just confusion from all parties," he said. "The broadcasters had no answers, we had no answers and, subsequently, the retailers and consumers had no answers."
The vendor first acknowledged (privately) the problem a few weeks ago - but without a recording of the data stream to test, it couldn't determine what had gone wrong.
"At that stage, we could only speculate as to what may or may not have caused the problem."
LG then started monitoring digital broadcast streams from several broadcasters in case the problem happened again.
"There was three weeks between occurrences of the problem," Goble said. "The randomness and infrequency really added to the mystery."
Chris Williamson of Digital Broadcasting Australia defended LG's response and said consumers should still feel confident in the digital TV medium.
"The digital TV platform is quite stable," he said. "There will be, as with any new technology, a few issues from time to time. But with the engineering processes in place between manufacturers and broadcasters, these will be resolved.
"The LG case is a great example where broadcasters and manufacturers have worked together to identify and find a solution to a problem." Goble said a more precise response will be communicated to the vendor's retail partners as early as this afternoon.
Effected models include: LCD TVs with integrated digital tuners LCD TVs with integrated digital tuners (model numbers 32LC2D, 37LC2D, 42LC2D and 42LC2DR); Plasma TVs with integrated digital tuners (model numbers 42PC1DV, 42PC1DG, 42PX4DV, 50PC1D, 50PC3D, 50PB2DR, 60PC1D and 60PY2D); rear projection TVs with integrated digital tuners (56DC1D, 62DC1D and 62DC1DA); and one CRT TV (model number 32FS4D). Only models purchased after August with serial numbers beginning with 608, 609, 611, 612, 701, 702 or 703 are affected.