Consumer report finds labels on tech products misleading and meaningless

Technology brands are labelling their products with specifications and jargon which are misleading consumers according to a report from Which?. 

The consumer watchdog took two of its investigators to a range of stores to research the way tech brands label their products. It said the amount of different labels on different brands of TVs, cameras, and laptops means they cannot be compared against rivals, which are misleading people buying new kit. 

It also pointed the finger at shop assistants who add more confusion into the mix by not understanding the labels and not scrutinising them either.  

Researchers found laptops easy to compare, thanks to the consistent information used across all the models on show.  One said:  “The labelling saying they hold 40,000 songs or 50,000 photos is a useful, easy-to-understand measurement”. While easy to understand, we would err on the side of caution by using measurements in files as sizes are variable depending on quality.

Similarly practical labels on the Blu-ray players Which? looked at held the same appeal, providing “meaningful comparisons”. 

However Which? said it was TVs that caused the most confusion, making lots of claims and using big numbers.

One set claimed to have ‘four trillion colours’ despite programmes not being broadcast in that many colours, making the information meaningless.

It warned consumers against comparing statistics – such as contrast ratios between different sets – because the manufacturers do not have a common standard, so the numbers they use are not the same.

Digital camera marketing also came under scrutiny. Some devices claim to have an impressive “digital zoom” rate, but this simply means that they enlarge part of the original image, rather than refocus the lens (optical zoom), according to the report.

Which? has said it has reported the labelling to the Advertising Standards Authority.