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Reply #131: Couple more interesting and useful points: [View All]

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Occulus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-23-08 09:30 AM
Response to Reply #93
131. Couple more interesting and useful points:
1. Converter box coupons are already available to be ordered. You can do so at https://www.dtv2009.gov/ApplyCoupon.aspx .

2. IMPORTANT: Coupons will expire within 90 days of the date they are issued. <-- VERY IMPORTANT, and true regardless of actual in-store supplies.

3. The list of eligible boxes as of now, per the FCC, can be found here.

4. The following is per the FCC's FAQ link (found here):
Question: When will I get my coupons?
Answer: Consumers who apply at the beginning of 2008 will receive their coupons when TV converter boxes are expected to be available in retail stores, probably in late February or early March.

#4 goes to #2. People in the industry have previously described it as a "potential clusterfuck", or the slightly more polite "there may not be enough boxes to satisfy consumer demand". Basically, if you get a coupon and it takes more than 90 days for stores near you to get the boxes, your coupon will be worthless.

It's very important, for those who need these boxes, that they do not order their coupons before the boxes are in quantity in stores. To reinforce that point, heres...

#5. Question: What is the expected timing of demand for the converters?
Answer: NTIA recognizes that the product cycle for converters is unknown and perhaps atypical of consumer electronics products generally. NTIA expects retailers to follow commercially reasonable practices in ordering and managing inventories of converter boxes.

Can I see some retailers applying a $40 markup? Of course I can!!

#6. Question: Are there restrictions on how the retailer prices the converters?
Answer: Retailer prices of coupon-eligible TV converter boxes are set by stores. The coupon can only be used to offset the purchase of an approved box by 40$. If the converter box is prices below 40$, the consumer will not get money back. Manufacturers or retailers may wish to offer combined purchases of converter boxes with smart antenna interfaces and smart antennas at promotional prices. The converter boxes, however, must be presented for sale as a stand alone unit and cannot be sold conditioned on the purchase of any other items.

Does that last mean the boxes must be sold separately?

(Note, there's nothing saying stores cannot up the price by the amount of the coupons... something I definitely would not put past some retailers.)

Here's my prediction: Initially, there will not be enough converter boxes to satisfy this mandated consumer demand. People will come to the stores with coupons in hand, only to be told that the inventory will (at first) not arrive for a few weeks. This will turn into the "Wii effect" on crack, most likely peaking over the holidays. As news spreads about the requirement for these boxes by next year- and believe me, human nature being what it is, most people will wait until the last moment- demand will increase. Supply, on the other hand, will be limited; stores will sell to whomever has the cash- or coupons- in hand, rather than prioritizing the coupon holders above the cash purchasers. The end result will be that there will be a large number of people with coupons in hand whose coupons expire because they either can't or don't use them within 90 days of receipt, especially if people do what I predict, get their coupons waaaay early, and then wait until the holidays.

I hope I'm wrong, I really do, because people in this country are angry enough as it is. I can't imagine how angry some people will become if they're told that a) their coupon is no longer valid and b) you need the box regardless, especially during the holiday season. We often joke here about how the only thing that would wake people up is losing their Brittney or their American Idol or their Guiding Light etc. Get ready- we just might find out those things the "hard" way.
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