A BBB investigation found that Universal TechTronics is peddling "five-year warranties for $59 that must be purchased with their "free" digital TV converter boxes With shipping and handling fees rolled in, the total cost per box is nearly $100.
BBB believes that these are the same boxes consumers can buy in electronics retail stores across the country using $40 U.S. government coupons that make the total cost to consumers about $20 per box.
Consumer Reports just completed tests of 14 DTV converter boxes
"The bottom line is that these ads confuse and mislead consumers," said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. "Unfortunately consumers who do respond may find that not only will they not receive free products and services as implied by the ads, but they will end up paying more than they would have by taking advantage of the really good deal being offered through the DTV coupon program."
Universal TechTronics' ads imply that their converter boxes are free and will provide free channel reception, similar to the type of services consumers receive through cable or satellite providers. Ads state, "No Bills: New ClearView TV receives free channels, no need to pay for cable to get the new digital picture quality and sound," and "Public to Get Free TV Without Gov't Coupon!" Additionally, the ads use the term "Miracle ClearView TV" to disguise the product and further deceive consumers.
Universal TechTronics has several product lines and also does business under the name Heat Surge LLC
Overall, in the past nine months BBB has received nearly 200 complaints about the company's business practices.