DTV Converter Box Coupons

December 14, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
Update: After this story aired, we had several viewers who had unused DTV converter box coupons and wanted to help Hazel. Thanks to a viewer's generosity, she donated her two unused coupons to Hazel. Hazel thanks the viewers who were willing to help and did help and now has two converter box coupons that aren't expired and says she'll put them to get use.

The switch from analog to digital TV is not far away. If you're one of those people holding TV converter box coupons, make sure you use them before you lose them.

Anyone can apply for the coupons. They're government issued and give you $40 towards a converter box. But if you have one of the coupons, and you're a procrastinator, you need to take a look at them so you don't get a surprise when you go to check-out.

Rabbit ears mean Hazel Spruill needs a converter box to make sure she can still watch TV come February 17th. That's when television goes digital. She thought she did everything right. She applied online for the government issued TV converter box coupons and got two in the mail shortly after.

She didn't use them right away. “What's the hurry I have until 2009.” she said, she thought,

But when she did try and use them, she said, “When I swiped my card, it didn't go through. So I asked the cashier, and he said 'Swipe it again,' and it didn't go through and he said 'Oh, they're expired.'” It was an expiration date Spruill never noticed on the cards.

“To be honest, I just forgot and then I thought about it and was like 'Oh God, I need to get those,” Spruill said.

Spruill isn't alone. A look at the NTIA numbers nationwide shows nearly 37 million converter box coupons have been mailed. More than 12.1 million have expired and not been used. Congress mandated the three-month expiration date on the cards.

“I take full responsibility being negligent not noticing the date, but I should be able to take these cards and send them back and get replacements for the two others, and then I would know to use it right then,” Spruill said.

But for now that's not going to happen. Federal rules only allow two coupons per household. Instead, a rep with the converter box program suggested asking a friend, neighbor or family member in another household who hasn't requested the coupons yet to make a request on their behalf.

The coupons are transferable, so if you're not going to use it, you can give it to someone else. The best advice is, if you have one of these coupons, don't procrastinate. Use it now.


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