An anonymous reader writes "Analog TV users must purchase a DTV converter box before broadcasts go digital in 2009, and the US Government is offering $40 coupons to support the transition. The coupon program requires retailers to become certified by the NTIA (the Government body running the program) before processing orders for the boxes. Apparently the certification program is a bit lax, as the frenzy to purchase DTV boxes using these coupons seems to have drawn unscrupulous fraud artists into the mix. Memsen, via its web site convertmy.tv and its hardware partner Maxmedia, partnered apparently to pull a bait-and-switch game on unsuspecting consumers and the US Government." Read on for details of the scam claimed by this anonymous reader.
Maxmedia and convertmy.tv (CMTV) together promoted the Maxmedia MMDTVB03, which appeared to be the most feature-rich of the coupon-eligible converter boxes. The box drew public interest and even coverage by 3rd-party review sites.
CMTV quickly took pre-orders for the box, and promised delivery first in April, 2008, and later pushed the date back to May. The company immediately redeemed the Government coupons (in violation of the program rules, which prohibit back-ordering) and charged customer credit cards. Early-adopting consumers were willing to overlook these practices, feeling they would eventually own the best box on the market.
CMTV yesterday announced that they would not be shipping the MMDTVB03 at all — it would be replaced by the MMDTVB02, which they claim will have a better picture. Of course, the "new & improved" box will not ship until June. As an alternative, CMTV indicated it would allow customers to switch to an inferior box for $5 less.
Consumers are outraged by CMTV/MaxMedia's bait-and-switch tactics but are having difficulty finding out who these companies really are. Neither company publishes physical addresses or phone numbers on their web sites, and consumers have resorted to their own detective work to find the info.
As of April 8, 2008, the convertmy.tv web site is still accepting and processing orders for the "new" MMDTVB02 — in clear violation of the NTIA program rules, which only allows coupons to be applied to DTV boxes on its approved list.