Gone like Hotcakes

So, on Monday, I mentioned that I’d have something about a toy that I’d be getting this week. So far, I’ve gotten nothing. Well, that’s actually a lie because I did get the thing that I wanted to get so that I could save on this thing.

What is it, you ask? A digital to analog TV converter box of which there is a program underwritten by the US Government to subsidize the cost of the boxes to the effect of upwards of $80 (2 $40 coupons per household).

What had spurred me on to applying for the coupons in the first place was the appearance of the boxes in the local Wal-Mart store. I had noticed them at the beginning of March, on the day when I was doing the test drive to and from work, and we stopped at the store which I pass every day to check it out.

When I first saw them, they literally had stacks and stacks of the boxes. At the time, I thought that they would be in plentiful supply for quite some time. Since seeing them at first, and seeing them in a whole bunch of other stores, I didn’t think anything about it until I received my coupons on Tuesday (I knew that they were coming because the site said that they were sent out on Friday or so), and I had an item on my list that said I’d look at getting the box after work.

So, I stop at Wal-Mart on my way home from work. I had an inkling (from other stores disappearing the boxes in recent days) that they might not have any out, but I checked anyway, expecting to just walk in and walk out with a box for $10 after the coupon.

I get to the electronics section, and there’s nothing. Zip, zilch, nada. Even the display unit has disappeared. I go to ask the clerk in the area, and they make a comment that they’re sold out, but might have some on Thursday or early next week.

Just a side note here – you can tell I want something when I have this unending desire to get it. Do you want an example of this? Well, at midnight, I called up the store which had just opened up in the area.

Lesson 1: Don’t call Wal-Mart at midnight.

Why? Well, you tend to get some of the densest folks in the store. I call them and ask if they have the digital converter boxes. I get put on hold, and after a minute or so, the person comes back and asks if I’m meaning for an audio system. In the end, as far as I can tell, they don’t sell them there. I’d just guess they’re out as well.

We get to Thursday, and I need to go over to another city to pick up some medicine from my clinic, so I decide to make a pit stop at the Wal-Mart there (they’re like viruses, in just about any city now [but not as bad as Walgreen’s, which appear on every street corner {I pass 2 on my way to work every day}]). I head over to the electronics department, and they actually have a box there. Well, not exactly. It is just a display model with a clock ticking down to February 19th, the switch off date for analog TV. Any boxes? Nope. Any in the back? Nope.

So, I go back to the first store which said they might have one Thursday night. They don’t have any, but fortunately, the gal remembers me from Tuesday night, and mentions one important thing – they are backordered. They don’t have any at the store, and even the distribution centre is having a backlog of orders as well, and the next time they might have some available is unknown.

Lesson 2: Do stop at a Wal-Mart early in the morning.

This brings us to Friday morning, and since I have an hour or so between when I arrive and when I start to volunteer, I decided to head down to the Wal-Mart that is about 3 miles south of where I was to see if they had any. The setup was the same as the second store I went to – display unit with countdown clock. No other display, no boxes. I decided to skip over the folks at the electronics counter because I was listening to the reason for stopping at Wal-Mart at 7AM: the Wal-Mart Radio network. They were reading out a list of employees who had worked for them for 20 plus years. It was a simple format – Employee name at store number in city name, x years. It was such a fascinating thing to listen to  because of all the numbers they just roll off in such a short succession. Plus, it was completely content-free radio. Just names read out by some guy, along with some music (which he claimed was requested music).

I get to the door, and strike up a chat with the greeter (because frankly, there ain’t much going on at 7am in a Wal-Mart which has just opened), and I mentioned the converter boxes. She said that they didn’t have any, but I should try the store I had tried (I explained what I was told), along with one that was, well, just too far out of the way 😉

She then mentioned that she had cable and was OK with the conversion to digital, which is completely true. I’m safe with it as well, but the biggest reason that I want the box is all the channels that you don’t get on cable (luckily she has the same cable company as I do so she can appreciate it 🙂 ). She also made a comment along the lines that I observed – in March, they had stacks and stacks with no clue what to do with them. Now, you can’t find them.

It’s like they’re disappearing like they’re going out of style! 😉