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Law Firm’s HD Radio Probe Still in Early Days

Keefe Bartels is hearing 'lots of stories'

Keefe Bartels, the law firm that’s looking into whether consumers are unhappy with their new HD Radio car receivers, is hearing lots of stories. Whether legal action will result remains unclear.

We reported on the New Jersey firm’s efforts last week. John Keefe, a managing partner, tells me the firm is still in the information-gathering stage and has not filed a lawsuit on behalf of unhappy consumers — though what it finds could potentially lead to that from the personal injury firm.

Keefe became interested in the technology when he bought a new BMW a couple of years ago. He says the dealer told him HD Radio wouldn’t work but that it was built into the cost of the car, because the receiver was part of a package. He says the dealer threw in a set of floor mats to compensate.

Keefe told me he heard the AM signal blending between digital and analog and back again in a demo. He called it “bumping,” which sounded like upcutting speech, as that happened.

The firm is soliciting comments from unhappy consumers regarding HD Radio on its website. Keefe says it is receiving complaints from “all kinds of people” and wants to determine how individuals have been affected. He didn’t say how many exactly or go into details.

Keefe, who describes himself as a consumer advocate lawyer, says he wants to understand if potentially faulty car HD Radio receivers have cost consumers money — from paying more for the car because of the package and then either not being able to receive a reliable digital signal or because there are not a lot of digital signals in their area.

When I contacted iBiquity for my first story on this, they had no comment.

It sounds like most of the complaints he’s getting are from AM listeners. He’s also getting an earful from radio industry people, so this should be interesting. I’ll keep you up to date.