Verizon’s HDTV Set Freebies Delayed

Verizon Communications has raised the ire of some new FiOS triple-play subscribers by saying they may have to wait nearly four months to receive the free Sharp Electronics HDTV sets the telco promised as part of a broad promotion last year.

The telco sent letters to some customers who took Verizon up on the incentive telling them they’ll have to wait 10 to 15 weeks for their 19-inch Sharp LCD HDTV sets.

Originally, Verizon told customers it would deliver the HDTV sets 6 to 10 weeks after “service installation and customer registration.”

Verizon manager of media relations Heather Wilner said all FiOS customers “will get the TV sets they were promised, if they don’t already have them, and we’re giving alternative choices in the small number of cases where there are delays.”

Verizon’s delays in delivering the Sharp HDTV sets were reported in The Wall Street Journal’s Wednesday edition.

Blog site Consumerist Monday posted messages from purported FiOS customers complaining about Verizon not delivering the HDTV sets and not explaining the reasons for the holdup.

Verizon said FiOS customers eligible for the free Sharp TV may opt to receive a 19-inch Magnavox flat-panel HDTV sooner. Alternatively, they may choose a $200 Best Buy gift certificate. Verizon said its fulfillment partners had difficulty obtaining Sharp TVs to meet demand generated by the promotion.

The telco also recently experienced weeks-long delays in providing customers with HDTV set-top boxes from Motorola.Both Verizon and Motorola chalked up the shortage to unexpected demand for HD service from consumers.

Verizon kicked off the Sharp HDTV giveaway in the New York area in October, then expanded it to five more states the following month. To get the free set, customers had to sign a two-year contract for FiOS TV, FiOS Internet and Verizon phone service.

The promo was set to end Dec. 15, but the telco extended it until Feb. 16 with the offer of a Philips Electronics’ Magnavox-brand HDTV set rather than a Sharp version.