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My TiVo nightmare... so far (UPDATED)
Posted by Frus Trated on 01/22/2006
ROSWELL, GEORGIA -- My wife bought me a TiVo box for my birthday in 2005. We opted for the monthly subscription. But to save the monthly fee, she purchased a lifetime subscription this past Christmas.

This is where the nightmare begins.

When I called to activate the new lifetime service, TiVo informed me the redemption code was invalid. Further, they did not know why it was invalid but would escalate the issue and have it resolved within three working days. They went ahead and deactivated our monthly subscription and advised us to disconnect the TiVo box from the phone line just in case any further issues arise so our setting would be protected.

I reconnected the phone line two weeks later, thinking everything had been resolved.

Now - THREE WEEKS after the initial problem - my TiVo service has been deactivated. All of our settings - lifetime subscriptions, priorities of them, and special keyword searches - lost.

TiVo says their computers are down so they cannot access my (former) accounts, but have promised to call before day's end to solve the issue.

They've actually had over three weeks to solve the issue thus far. And I find it odd that their entire computer system would be down on the day they deactivate my service.

In addition, the supervisors I spoke with today and three weeks ago were both unfriendly and unsympathetic to my issues.

My local cable company's DVR service is looking better and better...


TiVo did not call back as they promised so I called them back.

The tech denied knowledge of any computer issues at TiVo today and said he did not see anything in my file suggesting a call back today.

He did quickly realize that the original techie ( 4 or 5 techies ago) entered in my lifetime subscription number wrong - transposing several numbers and putting in the first two digits wrong (TiVo only has 2 sets of 2 digits that proceed redemption codes). No one else noticed this and it should have been obvious.

However, he quickly reactivated my account and credited me two months. He said give it about 10 minutes and it would be back to normal. 30 minutes later the service STILL had not been activated.

So I called back (4th time today). The next techie told me I had to initiate a phone connection to TiVo to reactivate the service. Which I did, and now everything is fine - except my faith in the company.

1. If TiVo only has two sets of digits in activation codes, how could techies repeatedly enter it wrong and not notice?

2. If my case was originally (3 weeks ago) escalated to a higher level of support, why was I never notified that the case was or was not resolved?

3. Why was I not notified today that my account was being deactivated?

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Posted by Anonymous on 2006-01-22:
Yeah, I'd go with the other company.
Posted by KateM on 2006-01-24:
Tivo rocks! I would chalk it up to a couple of stupid techs and move on and enjoy your service.
Posted by jeep26 on 2007-10-12:
Tivo charges u $155 a year @12.99/month for a mere program guide u could get FREE with ur satellite provider. Since most cable and satellite providers can provide/lease or u can just buy a DVR....why pay all that money year after year for service equivalent of Ghingas Kahn ( and thats being nice)
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TiVo - TV OUR Way
Posted by Minutemaus on 10/16/2012
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- I have been a subscriber to TiVo's service since 2001, and I would have considered myself one of their greatest advocates . . . until recently. Now, I am fast becoming one of their greatest detractors.
I upgraded to the TiVo Premiere in July 2010. It worked fine . . . until TiVo deployed its updates. Although TiVo's Marketing Director suspects I received a defective unit, the machine worked perfectly for about 1-1 1/2 years before gradual deterioration set in, following a major software update.
I will be the first to admit that, when it works properly, TiVo is phenomenal. BUT, when it FAILS, one has no other recourse but to launch the machine from a catapult atop a tall skyscraper.
If your TiVo unit fails, and you have filled it with (hundreds of) hours of recorded programs, you will be faced with the following ultimatum: Cough up another $250-$400 to replace your machine and LOSE all your recorded programs; or, retain your recorded programs and learn to live with an expensive – and bulky – paperweight. Unless you plan to continue paying the monthly service fee for the second unit, once deactivated, your old unit will lose all its recordings. So, if you have accumulated a volume of recorded programs and, especially if you added the DVR Expander for additional recording capacity, you will be wishing you hadn’t if you ever have to replace your machine. Oh, and don’t even consider TiVo’s networking feature of transferring programs between machines – most programming, these days, is copyright-protected and, as such, these programs may NOT be transferred between TiVo DVRs, even if they reside within the same household.
Perhaps TiVo should change its slogan to: “TiVo – OUR WAY OR THE HIGHWAY!”
BEWARE, if you begin to experience the following:
*Random restarts
*Manual restarts EVERY DAY; sometimes, 2-3 times per day
*To view upcoming shows from the menu selection "Recording Options", plan to click several times to return to the necessary screen, as TiVo will ALWAYS automatically return you to the previous screen, as your cursor moves upward and before you have a chance to select "View Upcoming Shows"
*Expect to inadvertently click "Play From Beginning" EVERY TIME you want to change a "Keep Until" date, now that this redundant and utterly useless new "feature" pushes all other menu items down one line (Seriously, why do we need this feature, when we can simply hold down the "replay" button to return to the beginning?)
*Season Passes with lower priority levels, as supposedly prioritized by the user, will be selected by TiVo over higher priority programs, often removing the higher priority recordings from the "To Do" queue. This happens, even when the lower priority program is scheduled to be broadcast one week AFTER the higher priority program.
*Partial recordings, even when TiVo indicates there is plenty of space available.
*Randomly deleted recordings, when TiVo claims their expiration date arrived - often on the same date they were recorded and, sometimes, when they are set as "Keep Until I Delete"! - and there was still plenty of space available for it to be saved longer.
*Currently recording programs disappear if you delete a different program while the current program is recording. The "Recording History" will indicate either "an internal error" or, more likely, that "not enough space was available" - again, even though TiVo's system page indicates that there is plenty of space available (30-40 SD hours, which is the same TOTAL HOURS as the original TiVo!).
*Inability to set recordings, due to "not enough space available" (see above), even if only a single ½ hour sitcom is scheduled in the "To Do" queue.
*Inability to set recordings if you have something else in your "To Do" queue set to start recording within the next 12-hour period.
*Prepare to check, double-check and triple-check, on a frequent basis, your "To Do" queue, because TiVo will not honor your requests; instead, TiVo decides for itself what it will record. TiVo will randomly delete recordings set in your "To Do" queue, for no apparent reason. On occasion, I've had to manually reset a program to record as much as four times in a single day, because TiVo kept removing it from my queue.
*Regarding NetFlix - DON'T EVEN BOTHER! TiVo's NetFlix browser is WORTHLESS AND WEAK. I use either Roku or my LG Blu-ray player to stream movies, since TiVo's system requires buffering and reloading about every 5-10 minutes (that is, assuming you can get the movie to play in the first place) . . . what a way to watch a movie.
Recently, I recorded a movie at midnight. When I awoke the next morning, I looked for my recording in the "My Shows" list but, guess what? It wasn't there, so I reviewed my recording history and, sure enough, there it was listed as "Deleted"; according to TiVo, it was deleted because its time had expired and the space was required for another program. It provided an exact time for that other program, but NOTHING was recorded at that given time on my TiVo; in fact, NOTHING AT ALL was scheduled or recorded after the deleted midnight program, and my TiVo indicated that I still had 24 hours of space available for recordings (the deleted program was a mere 2 hours).
Ironically, TiVo now requires more micromanagement from me than the old TV/VCR combination ever did! Back then, I could set my VCR to record something, come home from work (or wake up in the morning) and . . . voila! . . . my recording would still be on the tape and would play back beautifully. Hmmmmm... technology is good; progress not so . . . .
Oh, and on another note, TiVo service in my area was down for several hours on two separate occasions. I contacted TiVo's so-called "customer service", only to have what I already knew confirmed. They assured me that my bill would be discounted for those lost hours, but did I see any such discount on either respective bill? In a word, NO! TiVo reps are NOT TO BE TRUSTED.
I've got a life, but TiVo just doesn't get it!
My biggest beef with TiVo (and other DVR services) is that, ten years ago, I paid $400 for a DirecTV/TiVo DVR and I OWNED the machine. I did not have to return it to TiVo, because it was COMPLETELY MY OWN PROPERTY. Now, one still has to fork over roughly the same amount, but the machines are leased ( i.e. NOT owned) by the consumer.
And this brings me to my next point: I still OWN my 1st and 2nd TiVo DVRs, on which I can continue to view my recorded programs, even if their recording capability is no longer available. It's similar to having a library of DVDs without taking up valuable shelf space. But, after deactivation, the recorded programs on the TiVo Premiere will be no longer accessible. People "buy" DVRs, obviously, to record hours of programming, so they can "watch television when they want to watch it". In what world does it make sense, then, to require people to return (or deactivate) their machine when they need to replace it with a new one, only to lose hundreds of hours of programming? So much for watching “TV your way”.
In a nutshell, TiVo lets you watch TV when it decides to let you watch TV.
In an analogous situation, should I be paying a monthly fee to Sony? After all, I still own and view my VHS tapes, loaded with programs recorded using my Sony VCR. (And, actually, many of the programs on my old VHS tapes look 10x better than the same programs recorded off digital cable/satellite – I’ve tried both – onto my TiVo DVRs).
I do have to give some credit to the Marketing Director for his response to a similar review I posted elsewhere and for his efforts but, on behalf of TiVo, he cannot offer an amenable solution to my situation. Suspecting my current TiVo unit to be defective, he sent me a replacement machine, on the basis that I would transfer the programs from my old machine to the replacement and, then, return the old unit to him. And he gave me two months overlap time, for both machines to remain activated, to do so before returning the old machine. This would have been no problem, if I could actually transfer my hundreds of hours of recorded programming between machines. All the programs on my current machine, however, appear to be copyright-protected, so they cannot be transferred from one machine to another, even if both machines reside in the same household ( i.e. on the same network). And, thanks to TiVo's heavy promotion of its large capacity hard drives (Record up to 300 HD hours with TiVo® Premiere XL4! - Now with 4 tuners, so you can record even more shows!), and the DVR Expander, I have accumulated over 1400 hours of SD programming on my DVR. If I were to keep the new machine, I would lose all that recorded programming! I, even, offered to pay the additional monthly service fee for the second machine, if I could keep both machines until I clear the old machine of its programming (by either viewing the shows or re-recording them on the new unit - though many of the shows are rarely re-broadcast and still many more will never be re-broadcast).
So, after just 2 years of service on my current TiVo DVR, it looks like I will have to fork over yet an additional $250.00 PLUS an additional monthly fee for TiVo service on a second machine, just so that I can record on a (hopefully) properly working DVR, while still retaining the hundreds of hours of programming that I have recorded on my current DVR.
On second thought, perhaps I will simply request a new generic DVR from Time Warner Cable (after all, the unit itself is essentially free, since I will only have to pay the monthly service fee, and I had initially returned their DVR when I received my TiVo Premiere) and FORGET TIVO ALTOGETHER!
If you are anything like me, and you record a lot of programs on your DVR, you'd better hope and pray that your TiVo NEVER fails. Mine lasted only about 1 1/2 years before it began to deteriorate, thanks to bad software programming/deployment and/or a defective machine. Now, capitalism rears its ugly head as I must empty my wallet again for the sake of TiVo and my own sanity.
TiVo - and Capitalism - wins again!
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Posted by Suzy on 2012-10-17:
Give me the old VCR's anytime. Yes, they had their problems from time to time, eating tapes on occasions and they did take up shelf space, but for the most part reliable and inexpensive. No monthly service fees, you owned the machine outright and what you recorded you got to keep to watch on your own schedule. I know I'm old fashioned but I agree technology sometimes advances faster than progress can keep up with and we suffer with inferior designs and products that haven't got the bugs worked out properly yet. I still prefer my VCR to record shows to keep and no monthly fees or expensive complicated gadgets.
Posted by Minutemaus on 2012-10-17:
Suzy -

And don't forget that even a damaged VHS tape can be repaired with tape. It can, then, be dubbed to a new blank tape for archiving, so you can toss the damaged tape. A home-recorded DVD, on the other hand, once damaged or resulting in the dreaded "Disk Error", can NEVER be salvaged and becomes just another coaster. And you can't even access the recorded material to transfer it to a fresh DVD.

Oh, and when did you ever have to format a VHS tape for recording or finalize it so you can play it on a different machine? Not to mention how many times I've discovered my home-recorded DVDS to be incompatible with other machines, even after successfully finalizing the disks.

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No Commitment = Extreme Commitment
Posted by Bartvshugo on 07/03/2009
I igned up for Tivo's month to month service, specifically because it said no commitment. My account still says on it no commitment. I called to cancel because my service does not work, and it doesn't record. When I call to cancel they said that by "No Commitment" my service plan meant "no commitment AFTER a year long commitment." That they were sorry they made the mistake of putting "No Commitment" on the account, but that that was "no more dishonest than what cell phone companies do." Tivo is pulling a classic bait and switch, call it "no commitment" even though they ADMIT that it is in fact an iron clad commitment to their service. Their early termination fee of $200 was more than the ENTIRE year long plan that THEY signed me up to. To them NO commitment means thats your plan after a commitment. I was ripped off.
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Posted by Anonymous on 2009-07-03:
Did you read what you signed?
Posted by Soaring Consumer on 2009-07-03:
Contact your state's Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

No commitment should be self-explanatory.
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Terrible Customer Service
Posted by Emymadsen on 02/27/2014
Let me start off by saying I have been a loyal customer of TIVO since 2006 and have gone to battle many times with friends, co-workers and even strangers, making strong justifications that TIVO was worth the extra cost. Not anymore. The box I purchased back in 2010 has been acting up, so I called customer service to see if there was any cheaper options for longtime customers to purchase the Roamio than the big bucks listed on the website. I was told I could get a whopping $20 of the cheapest $199 option but that there were no other discount or upgrade options for the mid-grade or high-grade Roamio boxes. I spoke to the CS agent about cancelling my service and she seemed to think that was ok and didn't care either way. Is this really how TIVO thinks it's going to keep customers now that they have all this competition? I am sorely disappointed in my interaction with this company today... and will be cancelling my service.
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Tivo's Billing Practice
Posted by Wevlywilson on 12/06/2013
JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY -- I purchased DVR F481 in December 2009. I upgraded to DVR 45C8 in November 2009 but failed to cancel the old service because it wasn't clearly apparent to me that upgrading to a new device would mean to cancel service on the old. I discarded DVR F481. Then in 2011, I upgraded again to DVR 7D92 and discarded DVR 45C8, again not realizing that I needed to cancel the old service.

So as of today, I have paid TIVO close to $1,330.56 in service fees of old devices that were discarded. Yes, you have a policy to call to cancel, I understand that now, however it is not a logical process nor did any of the written material stress this point. From a customer service perspective, TIVO should have offered me either to credit my account or reimburse me the service fees, but you have refused. I also found many other former customers complain about this practice. Some even called to cancel old devices but the cancellation didn't go through and they were subsequently charged for months of service. That says to me that TIVO is ok with making sure people keep paying them for service that they can't even use. Beware.
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Liars and Thieves
Posted by Stevemyers75 on 10/31/2013
STRATFORD, CONNECTICUT -- We called to cancel service and they said we can continue service for $1.99 per month, so my wife said ok since we will be moving and might use our box again. A few days later, a charge for $200 shows up on our debit card. We called to get it reversed and they said yeah, sure, sorry about that. That was 2 months ago and they still have not refunded our money. We call every few days to complain and they tell us the payment is stuck at 'the bank'. For 2 months. They are obviously lying. They are thieves, nothing more.
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TiVo will not work well with antenna
Posted by Cindy.lunsford on 06/19/2013
TiVo is supposed to be a personal DVR to work with antenna as well as cable TV. We purchased it to work with antenna and have had trouble with it since we plugged it in initially. I called TiVo customer service immediately and was told it would download and get everything but it took a little while. The next day we still had channel guide with no listings saying "to be announced" . I have called at least 7-8 times to get this fixed and every time they say give me a week or 5-7 business days and it should be fixed. For 3 full months we have had channel listings in the guide with no shows listed.. Not one or two but 8 channels.

So when you want to set up something to record it will not find the shows you are wanting from CBS/ or ABC because the machine has no idea what is coming on those channels. It is so ridiculous that in the computer age a company can not get a channel listing for three months strait..

To top it all off we got so frustrated we were just ready to cancel and they said we would owe for the remainder of the year. Even though the service has not worked and has been incorrect the entire time!

This is a rip off!!! Do not ever ever purchase a TiVo to use for your antennae.
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Cancellation policy is a rip-off
Posted by Obhaso on 09/18/2012
ALVISO, CALIFORNIA -- First off let me say that I really liked my Tivo service and I didn't have many complaints other than just normal hiccups from time to time, but overall very satisfied.

However my roommate who actually owned the box just moved out and so I wanted to cancel the service. Should be a snap, right? Nope. Can't do it online, you must call them to cancel. And wouldn't you know, you can only cancel between 8 and 5. (Not exactly 8-5, but close to normal business hours) I had the feeling that they were just trying to make it difficult to cancel thinking that if I was trying to do this a day or two before my bill was due they'd push me over into the new month before I got around to it. Just [snip]ed me off.

Now maybe it's just a way to save money and only have one or two shifts of operators, but I have no idea why I can't cancel online. I think I'm probably annoyed/angry enough that while I was considering getting my own Tivo box and a new subscription there is no way in hell I will now.
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Poor customer service
Posted by Cera123 on 05/16/2011
I've been a loyal member for 4 years and when I moved I decided to go with another service provider. I called TiVo to cancel my service and after stating that I just wanted to cancel my service and not go through the "oh please stay with us" song and dance the service representative became frustrated with me and put me on hold to complete the transaction. Finally after waiting some time she came back with an order # and was clearly angry with our previous interaction. Does anyone know if the service reps are accountable in some kind of way for accounts that are canceled...for example they lose a portion of their pay if they can't talk a customer into staying? Anyway, I thanked her and again she was very unhappy. As far as I know my service has been cancelled...

Bottom line-this was a very simple request that was handled poorly by customer service
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Posted by SteveWiginowski on 2011-05-16:
It would have been nice if they were more friendly, but it's difficult to call this poor customer service when you are calling to not be a customer. The service that you requested was given to you (canceling the service), so while she may not have sounded happy about not being able to do her job in full, she performed the service that you requested in full.
Posted by tnchuck100 on 2011-05-16:
You need to send a certified mail/return receipt requested letter stating your cancellation and effective date. Phone cancellations are often ignored and the bills keep coming. Then it is your word against theirs. Since they are the "big boys" they will always win.

Get it in writing. Cover your butt. Particularly since you sense their displeasure.
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TiVo Lover
Posted by !tellitlikeitis! on 07/24/2010
TiVo has always been there when I needed them, they have a phenomenal service. They have a reasonable contract, and only want what was promised they don't have ridiculous Early Term Fee's, and every time I call they remind me why I've been a customer for over 9 years. I will never waste my money renting a wannabe digital VCR the cable companies call a DVR. I truly believe TiVo is the google of television, it has revolutionized the way I watch TV.
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Posted by Alain on 2010-07-24:
Glad you like them! I don't watch a lot of TV, though, so I TiVo's of no interest to me.
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