The federal government continues to bungle the transition to digital television, this time by making it difficult for consumers to redeem subsidy coupons for DTV converter boxes.
Consumers can request the $40 coupons now, but they expire after 90 days even though converter boxes are still not widely available. Mouse Print broke down all the known caveats:
1. You cannot combine the coupons toward the purchase of a single box (each will cost between $50 and $70 approximately).
2. The coupons expire 90 days from their mailing to you, and expired coupons will not be replaced.
3. There are only 22.5 million coupons unless Congress authorizes 11.25 million more.
4. While some boxes have already been approved, more are expected.
5. Many if not most retailers do not have the boxes in stock yet.
If you or your grandparents still rely on bunny ears to receive your television signal, ask your local electronics store when they expect to stock the digital converter boxes before requesting your subsidy coupon.
Mouseprint rightly argues that the coupons should not expire. The federal government shouldn’t worry that throngs of coupon-wielding seniors will bankrupt the treasury by simultaneously redeeming their DTV coupons. This is the sort of problem the government might be able to tackle if a single official was overseeing the DTV transition.