What kind of idiot decides to issue coupons that expire about the time the goods become available? That’s exactly what Congress did with its coupons for TV converter boxes.
What kind of idiot decides to issue coupons that expire about the time the goods become available?
You can bet if any company offers a coupon for a new item, they won’t decide to make it expire right at the time — or even before — the new product hits the shelves.
Congress decided to mandate a switch to all-digital television by Feb. 18 next year. Knowing that a few of us out here in TV-land are holdouts against the pressure to buy humongous-screen digital sets and to subscribe to pricey, 500-channel cable plans, Congress decided to offer coupons that would help pay for digital-to-analog converter boxes.
That’s fair, to me. I never asked for digital TV, and my little old television sets still function perfectly well so I see no reason to replace them. It’s only right that if Congress wants to force a digital revolution then it should help pay part of the cost for those of us who never wanted the revolution in the first place.
But for whatever reason, Congress decided these coupons should expire in 90 days.
I applied for two of the $40 coupons back in September. When they arrived, I called several area stores and found that not one of them carried the boxes. I set the coupons aside, waiting for somebody to carry the boxes. Alas, when I was ready to buy, I discovered my coupons had expired.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is suggesting the coupons be re-issued because my problem has been wide spread. We’ll see if it happens, but I’m not holding my breath.
Of course, my TVs will still function fine for watching movies, including the oldest of the lot, which my parents gave me for Christmas when my children were little. My mother believed my daughter should be able to watch “Sesame Street” in color and I only owned a black and white portable set I got free for signing a lease. That daughter is now in college, which gives you an idea of the TV’s age.
I could pay the full price of the converter box, but frankly I fail to see why I should have to. I could also subscribe to a cable service, but I consider that a huge waste of money. So the alternative is to become one of the 1 to 2 percent of Americans who do not watch television at all.
For the most part, the idea doesn’t faze me since I only average about an hour or two of television a week anyway. But it would be nice to have the option of tuning in when there are storm warnings. And I like to dip into PBS once in a while.
I doubt I am the only person out there too stubborn and cheap to pay full price for a converter box. And don’t forget how many elderly people there are out there who are unable to come up with the money even if they’d like to, and who don’t have a weather radio or the Internet at home to fill in the gaps as I do.
While for me it’s a stubbornness issue, for our vulnerable elderly it’s actually a safety issue.
So do the right thing. Re-issue the coupons, and this time set a reasonable expiration date.
Doing so the first time would have saved us all a good deal of trouble.
Michelle Teheux can be reached at (309) 346-1111 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.