Getting a DTV Converter Box

28 Sep, 2008 | Eric Adler |
So I finally received my $40 off coupon on September 22, 2008. These coupons are supposed to expire exactly three (3) months after their ship date. Mine expired December 2, 2008. I highly doubt it takes 20 days to ship these, the USPS is not that slow.

Fast-forward to yesterday when I decided to go shopping for my CECB. The sheet of paper that came with my coupon said that "SEARS" sold converter boxes, but listed the wrong town for the local Sears*. Going in to Sears and looking for CECBs confirmed my suspicions – they had neither boxes nor a shelf therefor. I came home, sans CECB, and slept.

This morning, I went to a local RadioShack. RadioShack had two models, a Zenith (DTT900 I believe) and a Digital Stream DTX9950, neither on display, both boxed. The sales rep told me that the Digital Stream had extra features such as a signal strength indicator but the Zenith came with RCA cables (I wonder what would happen if someone asked if these cables would work with a Sony TV or if one would need to buy an RCA TV and why Zenith wasn't giving cables for Zenith TVs... I'd hate to be in this sales rep's shoes). Both cost $59.99. Neither box explained what was inside other than things like "DTV Converter Box", "lets you see clear TV", "more channels", and "".

I left RadioShack, unimpressed, sans CECB and drove over to K-Mart*. I walked straight to the rear corner where they hide the electronics and looked for the CECBs. I finally found them, $59.99 again. One, a Magnavox, was not in stock, only a display model with a little chart that explained the box and its features, but the display model had nothing in it, was just a case with a picture of the rear stuck to the back. The other, the DTVPal, was there and had a box that listed "Easy to Connect", "Analog Pass-Through", and "On-Screen Program Guide", with the most content information of any of the boxes I had seen, in both Spanish and English. I grabbed the one remaining DTVPal and started walking to the counter to pay, as I had done my research and it was one of two models that I was willing to buy. While I was looking at cameras in the display case near the register, they received a call, one sales agent asked another if they had "any of those converter boxes left", the other said he thought he had held the last one (with me in clear sight holding one) and checked to confirm (which was successful, since I had the last one in hand). I checked out, paying with the $40 coupon and my credit card. I was first given a receipt to sign that listed $40, not my $24.79 balance (yes, tax was on the pre-coupon price). I signed and inquired as to if I could have the plastic 'coupon' card back and was told that they had to keep them. I then signed my credit card receipt and received my CECB and sales receipt in bag. So much for the "almost free" converter box that cost me $25 and a trip to two stores to try and find details and/or cheaper prices.

*Sears owns K-Mart, the K-Mart is in the town that the Sears is listed in on the paper that came with the coupon, I know this, I just decided to play stupid for this experiment (and confirm that Sears did not in fact have CECBs).