For everyone who inadvertently let their $40 digital TV converter coupon expire before buying a converter box, you’re in luck. The government will let you reapply for up to two more coupons beginning today.
The coupons offer a discount off a converter box, which is one way to get an analog TV ready for the nation’s switch to digital broadcasts on June 12, 2009. But millions of people let their coupons expire after the 90-day deadline. And then in early January, the government ran out of money.
However, thanks to intervention from politicians, the digital TV transition was delayed four months to June and $650 million more was set aside by Congress for the coupon program. Up to $90 million of that will be used for administration and outreach and promotion.
But for the past month, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is managing the coupon program, has focused on sending out coupons to the 4 million people on the waiting list. That list was cleared on Saturday, using up $190 million, or 39 percent of the $490 million reserved for coupons.
“We’re particularly focused on the 4-plus million completely unprepared households and we’re going to monitor the coupon requests and the coupon redemptions to make sure that we don’t obligate all the funding before we ensure that the totally unprepared households get their coupons. If need be, we’ll establish another waiting list for the unprepared, over the air households,” said Anna Gomez, the NTIA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information.
Before today, consumers who tried to get another coupon were rejected. Now, when those users apply, the system will check to see if they have already cashed in a coupon. Up to two coupons total are allowed per household. If a household cashed in one coupon before but not the second, that household can apply for one more.
Gomez said that the coupon process should be faster than before. Besides upgrades in the operation, the coupons are also being delivered by first-class mail and should take nine days to arrive instead of the previous 21 days.
For those who still need a coupon, here is how to get one:
- Apply online
- Call the Coupon Program toll-free 24-hour automated system 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009).
- Mail a coupon application to: PO BOX 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000. Download a Coupon Application here.
- Fax a coupon application to 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632)
- Deaf or hard of hearing callers may dial 1-877-530-2634 (English/TTY) or 1-866-495-1161 (Spanish/TTY). TTY Service is available from 9 AM – 9 PM Eastern Time Monday through Friday.
More digital TV transition news: Check out the Gadgetress Guide to the Digital TV transition. Latest headlines: