Better Business Bureau Cautions Consumers About Converter Boxes

RIDGELAND – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Mississippi is cautioning Mississippi consumers to carefully consider their options before responding to recent full-page newspaper ads promising “Free TV”.

The ads, which have run in several daily newspapers in the state, are headlined, “Public to Get Free TV Without Gov’t Coupon!”  The ads, placed by Ohio-based Universal Techtronics, are actually intended to sell a converter box similar to those that consumers will need after all analog TV broadcasts switch to digital technology in February.  Consumers may find that not only will they not receive a free television set as implied by the headline, but they will actually be paying more than they would under a government coupon program to supplement the cost of the boxes.

A BBB representative called the toll-free number on the ad and was told that she would have to pay a mandatory $59 fee for a “5-Year warranty” – plus unspecified shipping costs – to receive the box.  The BBB visited some local retailers to determine the costs consumers would pay for a converter box.  Costs ranged from $49-59 plus tax. However, when the consumer applies the $40 coupon, their costs would drop to $10-20 per box.

The Digital TV conversion requires all full-power TV stations in the U.S. to convert to digital transmission no later than midnight on February 29, 2009. Consumers needing the boxes can apply to receive up to two $40 coupon cards per household to purchase the boxes through local retailers.  To apply for the coupons, consumers can visit www.dtv2009.gov or call 888-388-2009.

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