Thursday, August 20, 2009

Update On My Free HDTV

Last month, I wrote a post about a bank offering a free HDTV or a mini Camcorder for opening a new CD account. Specifically, the offer was made by Irwin Union Bank to customers who open an 11-month CD with a minimum deposit of $20,000. After funding their account, a depositor would receive a Sharp or LG 22 inch HD LCD TV or a Flip MinoHD Mini Camcorder within 30 days. I took Irwin Union Bank up on their offer, and opened a new CD account. It has been about a month since I opened my account, and I just received my HDTV.

About a week ago, the bank sent me an Email that saying that the manufacturer had run out of 22" TV sets, and that I would receive a Toshiba model 22AV600U instead. The TV itself is the first HDTV that I've owned, and the picture is quite sharp compared to our old tube TVs. The new TV includes a built-in NTSC/ATSC/clear QAM tuner that can tune into both broadcast TV and cable. (It is an unadvertised fact that cable subscribers who have a clear QAM tuner can often receive unencrypted HD cable TV, without adding "digital" cable to their service.)

A new 22 inch TV set retails for about $250-300, so it is a generous gift considering how stingy banks are with interest rates these days. This offer was scheduled to end on August 31, but it seems that Irwin decided to end the promotion early, as I can no longer find the offer on their website. Readers who are still interested in the TV or Flip Mino might try calling the bank directly. It can't hurt to ask.

The bank informed me that they will report the value of the free gift ($280) to the IRS (on a 1099 form), so the "free" TV will probably end up costing around $100 in taxes. I thought that the days of banks offering a TV set to new customers was a thing of the past. Has anybody else taken Irwin Union Bank up on this offer? If so, could you share your experiences here?