TV converter box program coupon expiration - What was the governments reasoning? - AVS Forum
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Does anyone have information explaining the governments reasoning behind their using an expiration on the TV converter box program coupons?
I saw an article in my local newspaper Jan. 1, 2008 and applied the next day
Jan. 2, 2008. During the application process, I don't recall being informed of the 90 day expiration. I also had no idea about what qualifying boxes were available, or would soon be available.

After completing the application, the printout "thank you" page stated,
"Important: TV converter boxes are not expected to be available in retail stores until late February or early March. You will receive your
coupon(s) then. The Coupon will expire within 90 days from the date it is issued."

I received my coupons on March 19 and the expiration shown was June 6.

To this day, three brands of converters are available retail in my area, none of which were getting positive reviews. None have the basic features that I had seen on expected converters not yet being sold.

My coupons are expired and shown as being redeemed, because I preordered
converters and am not sure if I will ever get them.

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Old 06-19-2008, 10:01 AM
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More than ONE MILLION coupons (with a value of $43,403,400) have now expired without being used:

https://www.dtv2009.gov/Stats.aspx

Another successful government program brought to you by your elected representatives.

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

--Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1917)
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:20 AM
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I hope everyone who lets the coupon expire because they couldn't find a box writes and tells them why it expired. If that happens to my coupon, I don't want them assuming it was because I didn't need it. They should know what's involved in using a coupon with 74 days.
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:26 AM
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I think the reasoning was to get people to use them in a timely manner. I don't think they anticipated the delay in getting the approved boxes to market.

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Old 06-19-2008, 10:35 AM
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I think the expiration date was to keep millions of coupons from needing to be processed and redeemed all at the same time.

I think most of the early unused coupons, from reports and media, were by people who never needed them in the first place like cable and satellite users.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeVideoGuy View Post

I think the reasoning was to get people to use them in a timely manner. I don't think they anticipated the delay in getting the approved boxes to market.

There are plenty of approved boxes in the market. Just possibly not the "vapor ware" box you might hope to someday possibly buy.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:27 AM
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I don't think we can generalize about who needed them. I waited for reviews on MaxMedia and then Microprose. I almost ordered from Provantage except I was waiting to see what came out first, the DTT901 or dtvpal. DTT901 was supposed to be July, and dtvpal the week of June 16th, so again my coupon sat on a preorder. Now I'm scrambing to find a 901 without paying more for the priviledge.

Half the coupons ordered were from OTA-only homes, as of their early June status report. They didn't say how many OTA homes let their coupons expire, but I will, if I can't get an analog pass through model. My coupons have run the gamut from MaxMedia to Microprose watch, then dtvpal and DTT901. One store has the 901s locally, and I'm hoping to snag one before Monday expiration. They sell out within hours.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post

I think the expiration date was to keep millions of coupons from needing to be processed and redeemed all at the same time.

There is a fixed amount of money in their bucket for this program. I see nothing wrong them enforcing a "use it or loose it", since if the card expires, they can re-allocate that money to someone else who's waiting and hopefully will indeed use it.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:36 AM
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They have already said in the June report they don't intend to reallocate, they don't have the stamp money. They anticipated 50% unused coupons, but didn't ask for 150% admin costs so they could reallocate the unused ones. They will under duress make an exception to the consumers whose coupons got swallowed in the NTIA shutdown of retailers.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkingRat View Post

They have already said in the June report they don't intend to reallocate, they don't have the stamp money. They anticipated 50% unused coupons, but didn't ask for 150% admin costs so they could reallocate the unused ones. They will under duress make an exception to the consumers whose coupons got swallowed in the NTIA shutdown of retailers.

What about those of us that have idiot mail carriers that never delivered our coupons (to the correct recipient)? I've about given up fighting for my coupons that some idiot mail carrier no doubt misdelivered (consistent poor mail delivery in my neighborhood for me and neighbors)
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaltA View Post

There are plenty of approved boxes in the market. Just possibly not the "vapor ware" box you might hope to someday possibly buy.

I'd say close to what you are saying. There may have been plenty units of the few models of boxes available. But let's not get caught up on semantics.

What I meant was, despite a list of 100 brands, until recently, I could only get 4 locally and maybe another few online. While LG worked hard to supply us with Zenith/Insignia boxes (they even had time to fix the 900 and come out with the new 901) what happened to the rest of the companies?

I bought my Zeniths locally but have heard so many horror stories about ordering from online vendors (not just the vaporware boxes but the online companies with real inventory) I am leary of using my last, due to expire coupon online unless others here have vouched for the company.

What I was getting at was that we were all lead to believe there would be choices available (and that the boxes may cost less). I don't blame anyone for waiting for a specific box for price, performance, features (pass-thru, Smart antenna, S-Video, etc). I am saying the manufacturers overall are not delivering.

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Old 06-19-2008, 12:09 PM
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There is a small chance that the whining the NTIA did in their 6 month report will get them the stamps.
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Old 06-19-2008, 01:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeVideoGuy View Post

What I meant was, despite a list of 100 brands, until recently, I could only get 4 locally and maybe another few online. While LG worked hard to supply us with Zenith/Insignia boxes (they even had time to fix the 900 and come out with the new 901) what happened to the rest of the companies?

Not to mention the bad-audio Zeniths weren't fixed until recently, and other boxes with that LG tuner apparently STILL don't have fixed audio, and the Magnavox has plenty of horror stories.

Vaporware? Even half the non-vaporwares are faulty.
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Old 06-19-2008, 02:26 PM
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I don't understand why it had to be in the form of a plastic card in the first place. Didn't the Consumer Electronics industry get the "submit receipt and UPC code for a rebate" thing down pretty well with no bugs and a low redemption rate that would keep the NTIA happy? Then they could just invalidate the rebate 90 days after purchase. They'd save a fortune on postage if the 50% of non-redeemers just didn't bother to send anything in.
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Old 06-19-2008, 04:08 PM
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There was no reason to have to mail the coupon out in the first place. Anyone who applied online could have been emailed the coupon number and expiration date. That is all that is needed in using the coupon. You don't need a physical card.
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Old 06-19-2008, 05:56 PM
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How would you get to have a limit of two per address if you didn't mail a tangible item to an address. How would you prevent fraud if you didn't send a card that is instantly used at purchase to an address?
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Old 06-19-2008, 06:25 PM
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What is to stop someone from using a neighbours address, then waiting until the coupon mail date and checking the neighbours mail box, as soon as the mail comes everyday, until they get their extra coupons? If they use their real name on the application they wouldn't be breaking the law to pick up their mail at the neighbours mail box, would they? It makes no diffrence, all that is require is a valid address, not that the applicant lives at the address.
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Old 06-19-2008, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post

How would you get to have a limit of two per address if you didn't mail a tangible item to an address. How would you prevent fraud if you didn't send a card that is instantly used at purchase to an address?

The same way rebate companies limit one rebate per address, I reckon.
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Old 06-20-2008, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post

How would you get to have a limit of two per address if you didn't mail a tangible item to an address.

I still wonder what happens to all the people who might have moved during 2008? Even with the bad housing market, IMHO, there might be someone out there who did indeed move recently, and now gets rejected because the previous owner (renter) already got their coupons.
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Old 06-20-2008, 07:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JWD-PEC View Post

If they use their real name on the application they wouldn't be breaking the law to pick up their mail at the neighbours mail box, would they?

Yes they would. No one is allowed by Federal Law to touch your mailbox except for you and the mail carrier. That's why UPS, FedEx, et al can't leave their packages in your mailbox. It is considered federal property. Not to mention the possible mail fraud implications by passing yourself off as someone else when dealing with the federal government.

It would be better to ask your neighbor if they would mind letting apply for coupons in their name if they are not going to do it.
The NTIA doesn't care if coupons are applied for and passed on (not sold) to someone else.

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Old 06-20-2008, 07:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post

How would you get to have a limit of two per address if you didn't mail a tangible item to an address. How would you prevent fraud if you didn't send a card that is instantly used at purchase to an address?

The same way they enforce a limit of two coupons. They look your address up in their database and if you already got your allotment, your claim is denied.


-Chris
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Old 06-20-2008, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFranchise View Post

The same way rebate companies limit one rebate per address, I reckon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4HiMarks View Post

The same way they enforce a limit of two coupons. They look your address up in their database and if you already got your allotment, your claim is denied.


-Chris

What database would the government use, what database includes all persons (tax rolls don't, state drivers license don't).

The comments I was speaking to were saying about having it handled over the net or mail in rebates to save costs.

If people could get coupons (either real or virtual) by other than snail mail then fraud would be huge. People could apply for everyone on their block and get their coupons, they may not get the money but you would be deprived of your coupons.

Not everyone has the net to get real or virtual coupons. That is why there is voice phone access to coupons.

Sending and processing rebates is costly. I think they had people think of the program and came up with this method to be the least cost to administer combined with least fraud potential combined with easiest to use and be the most beneficial and fair to the most people in a forced transition.

I'm no fan of big government but I can find more flaws in the alternate proposals then I do in this method. Having the coupons sent to an address seem to give most ease of use, least fraud and reach the most people at the least cost of all the methods.

Taxes and licensing and zoning and building codes have all been government rules for a long time (our whole life time). I can't think (morning brain with only two coffees) of any other forced government program other than the military draft that has affected so many people as this program that has started and affected so many people in our lifetime. So this is a new experience for the population and government.

I don't think this transition will be easy for all people. Urban people (who may have 3 to 10 stores to more easily travel to) will be the least affected spending $10 or $20 for each set (for two sets) and maybe a small amount more for a better set top antenna(s). Costs to rural people will be more, either in higher costs of CECB through mail order or time/gas to travel to stores, as well as external antenna upgrades that they will more likely need. Certainly there will be lots of people who will fall through the cracks on this transition.
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Old 06-20-2008, 09:38 AM
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I think they picked the best database they had, a physical address tied to mail delivery. The verification that it really is a physical address tied to mail delivery, comes from sending them in the mail. 20% of America is potentially left out by virtue of moving, but I can't think of a better database that offers some protection that the person actually residing there gets the coupons.
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkingRat View Post

I hope everyone who lets the coupon expire because they couldn't find a box writes and tells them why it expired. If that happens to my coupon, I don't want them assuming it was because I didn't need it. They should know what's involved in using a coupon with 74 days.

My expiry date was yesterday, 6/19. I wrote to NTIA and explained why I'd let it expire. I received a short, but clearly not automated, response saying:

"Your feedback on your experiences is very helpful."

I believe there are some people working for NTIA who really want to make it "right" for the consumer. However, they may not be allowed to do so.

Only time will tell.
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkingRat View Post

I think they picked the best database they had, a physical address tied to mail delivery. The verification that it really is a physical address tied to mail delivery, comes from sending them in the mail. 20% of America is potentially left out by virtue of moving, but I can't think of a better database that offers some protection that the person actually residing there gets the coupons.

How they did it, I don't know. I was just very glad that there was an exception written into the original law that allowed those of us to whom the USPS will *NOT* deliver mail to get coupons. So many people won't believe there are still places with no mail delivery available at your physical location but we do exist. I live with it every day. We can't get mail in rebates. We aren't counted by the census bureau. But NTIA recognized we needed to be included.

We had to put in both our physical address and our PO Box. I assume they checked our zip code with the USPS to verify THERE IS NO MAIL delivered to that location.
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Old 06-30-2008, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

Another successful government program brought to you by your elected representatives.

"... your elected representatives."

In other words, us. Let's not pretend that our government isn't a reflection of our own attitudes, knowledge and level of involvement.
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Old 07-02-2008, 07:45 PM
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This afternoon the expired coupon statistics, updated through 6/30/08, are posted here:

https://www.dtv2009.gov/Stats.aspx

2,244,589 coupons have expired without being used. This represents lost value of $89,783,560 to those holding expired coupons.

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

--Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1917)
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