Deadline to get $40 digital converter coupon is July 31

Deadline to get $40 coupon for digital converter box is Friday

The digital television transition was a long time coming and it seemed as though the media coverage was endless. Even so, 4 percent of Floridians were unaware of the transition according to www.dtv.com, and another 8 percent knew about the change but did nothing to prepare.

Friday marks the end of the DTV Converter Box Coupon Program. If you rely on over-the-air broadcasting and have not applied for a coupon worth $40 off the price of a converter box, you must do so before Friday.

The converter box coupons are plastic cards that look like gift cards. You can apply online, but there's no option to download or print them. They'll arrive via first-class mail. Check the status of your application at dtv2009.gov/CheckStatus. aspx.

Once received, the coupon can be redeemed online when you order a converter box from participating dealers. A list of dealers' Web sites, as well as local and national vendors, is available at dtv2009.gov/VendorSearch.aspx.

While you may not need a converter box for your main televisions, don't forget about the portable, battery-powered set you may keep for emergencies and tailgating. These models only accept analog transmissions, so they'll require a box with its own power source in order to work.

Beyond the technical side, the switchover has an economic factor too. The economy has affected families of all incomes and many have been forced to cut back spending. Subscribing to cable service is not an option for all television viewers. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund has joined with nearly 100 other organizations to collect and distribute coupons to needy families.

Donate your unused and unexpired coupons to LCCREF by mailing them to: Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, National DTV Coupon Exchange Program, P.O. Box 66081, Washington, D.C. 20035.

You don't have to donate through a formal organization, though. Since the coupons can be transferred, you can just give one to someone in need if you won't be using it yourself.

To apply for a coupon, call toll-free 1-800-388-2009 or visit www.dtv2009.gov. Each household may request up to two. They're good for 90 days after being issued.

If you have already redeemed a coupon for a converter box but can't get it to work, you are on a deadline too. There are a few free in-home assistance resources listed at www.dtv.gov, but their service is only available until Friday.

Here are a few of these resources specific to the bay area.

Hernandez Consulting LLC. Available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call toll-free 1-866-474-7286.

R & D Training & Technical & Service Inc. Available 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Call toll-free 1-866-202-4596.

Installs Inc. Available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Call toll-free 1-800-582-4250.

Communication Service for the Deaf's Phone Support. Available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Visit www.c-s-d.org or call toll-free 1-877-889-4273 or 1-877-388-4968 for voice.

Deadline to get $40 digital converter coupon is July 31 07/29/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 10:11am]

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