Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gale Brewer Wants NTIA to Keep Coupons Available

After hearing about the NTIA's decision to place folks who requested converter box coupons after January 4, 2009 on a waiting list, NY Councilwoman Gale Brewer got concerned. The finally act that put Brewer in motion was distributing the coupons on a first-come-first-served basis. This act puts too many people at risk of not receiving coupons. This would be a hardship to many low income New Yorkers or any low income American. So Councilwoman Brewer wrote a letter to NTIA requesting that they rethink the process.

The coupon distribution has been a bit of a mess. I experienced a smooth process. I made the request online, mid-September 2008; received my two coupons shortly thereafter; and had a three-month period to use them before they expired. I think the expiration date ought to be based on the date of release by NTIA instead of when I made the order, though.

For folks caught up in the 'after January 4, 2009' controversy, I sympathize. Prior to that date, all who called or went online to apply were supposed to get the coupons. True, there's a funding cap to any discount program but this one hasn't been reached.

The cap hasn't been reached due to the glitches in the process. For example, a colleague recounted how he received his coupon a week or two before it expired and is one of those people who is on the waiting list. This means he represents many people who never used the coupons to purchase the converter box. Never used means unspent money. NTIA would do well to account for what's been issued and redeemed to know how much money is available.

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