Even after the DTV switch, converter-box drama persists. Reader Bob is concerned that his in-laws were oversold on a converter box for their brand new TV.
Analog television broadcasts end tonight at 11:59 PM. Are you ready? Are you tired of hearing about this yet? If you’ve put off buying a digital converter box, or you want to use the transition as an excuse to buy a shiny new TV, Consumer Reports is here to show you how to choose the awesomest model you can find.
Matthew emailed us with an interesting link to a Meritline offer that he says is making the rounds on deal sites. The Airlink digital-to-analog converter box is a fairly generic offer, but Meritline is offering a free HDMI cable with it. The only problem is, there’s no place on the box to use the cable. If you just see “free HDMI cable” and don’t read the specs closely, you’ll be in for a rotten surprise when the box arrives. But hey, free cable.
Tim tried to use a Digital TV coupon at a Philadelphia Radio Shack and was told that he had to provide his name and address in order to redeem it, as per government regulations. Strike out “government” and replace with “imaginary” and you’re closer to the truth. Hmm, did this Radio Shack employee just break the law?
Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports and, um, brand-spanking-new owner of Consumerist, the blog that you are reading right now, is asking Congress to delay the DTV switch until “until a plan is in place to minimize the number of consumers who will lose TV signals, particularly by fixing the flaws in the federal coupon program.” Why are they doing this? Well, the coupon program has already run out of money. Read the letter inside.
You know, the coming switch to digital TV isn’t exactly rocket science, but we’re betting plenty of people are still going to end up feeling confused and angry come February of next year.
We know you’re too smart to fall for this ridiculously fraudulent digital TV converter offer, but maybe you know someone who’s not wise to the facts of the upcoming switch to digital TV—specifically that converter boxes cost less than $100, and that you can get a government coupon to offset $40 of that cost. Universal TechTronics—the same scam outfit behind those “Amish” Heat Surge miracle fireplaces—is now conning the less knowledegable with their “free” converter box offer: pay nothing but a warranty and shipping, bringing the total cost to anywhere between $68 and $97. The Los Angeles Times says this is “the first large-scale [converter box] scam the Better Business Bureau has seen.”
The way coupons are taxed is different in every state— and believe us — it gets really complicated. The general rule, in most (but not all) states is that consumers are taxed on the full amount of the transaction — including any reimbursement that the store gets.