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TiVo question/complaint

Original post made by consumer, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2014

Several years ago, I purchased a Tivo with a lifetime service contract. I expressed concern about the product being obsoleted if my cable provider (Comcast) went digital and was told this was not a problem since this was not going to happen and anyway, the unit I was buying had a dual tuner and at least one of the tuner's was digital.

Well, we got use of our "lifetime" unit for all of maybe two years, and Comcast went digital, and we found out our Tivo was then a useless piece of junk. (Tivo was in some kind of business relationship with Comcast, so they knew this was coming.) They were happy to sell us a new unit and service for almost the cost of buying a whole new unit and lifetime service, specifically what I was promised wouldn't happen when I bought the unit in the first place. At that point, we got rid of Comcast, too, as our already lousy television picture would cut on and off several times during every program and out completely if anything big was going on like the World Series.

I'm embarrassed to admit that's the 2nd lifetime contract we had with Tivo. The last time, it died with the unit - when the unit stopped functioning, so did our lifetime contract. But in that case, it at least lasted for more than 2 years.

If Tivo is making products with such planned obsolescence, it should not be selling "lifetime" contracts. They aren't cheap, the 2nd one was around $500. And I specifically asked about the obsolescence issues when I purchased.

Yes, I have contacted Tivo. I'm normally a pretty savvy consumer, but their business model seems built around this pretense and planned obsolescence, so they didn't budge.

Who do I complain to about this? I feel gipped.

Comments (11)

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Posted by simple solution
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2014 at 8:54 am

Don't buy a "lifetime" contract

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Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2014 at 9:03 am

I always thought those Tivo "lifetime" contracts were a scam since there are so many restrictions on what "lifetime" means. A more legitimate deal would be offering 5 or 10 years pre-paid plans that can be transferred to new devices if the old one breaks or becomes obsolete. Of course, customers would still have the problem of companies going belly up or failing to produce usable new products.

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Posted by dvr's
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 8, 2014 at 9:38 am

Your Tivo should work. What model?

I have two old Tivo Series II's that still work fine (one is probably on it's last legs, it's probably ten years old - not bad for a computer constantly on 24/7 for ten years!!) I also use a Series III at another location.

If you are a "... normally a pretty savvy consumer... " then you should be able to provide that answer.

I also use Comcast dvr's as well as DirectTV dvr's -- I vastly prefer the Tivo interface and increased functionality.

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Posted by consumer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Model TCD 649080

I now have a digital TV anyway (modest Vizio model) and no cable or satellite, and Tivo informs me that even if I get whatever equipment I need to convert the signal, my series 2 will not work with an on-air signal.

Please tell me the workaround!

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Posted by consumer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm

@simple solution,
You're right, of course, but I thought I carefully asked all the right questions. More than once. And documented the answers. They of course disown them now.

Tivo should voluntarily make some kind of big concession to people who bought lifetime contracts, because a) they will keep a customer base of people who had liked their product enough to shell out for the lifetime contract, and b) they will avoid a class action lawsuit or government action which I can see coming at some point down the line...

Under the circumstances, I will cheer for either eventuality. Tivo should be thinking about the smarter business decision.

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Posted by tivo
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Sounds like ya screwed up dropping Comcast if the over-air thing doesn't work. I have a series 2 alos, works fine with cable. (otoh, I detest Comcast....)

Tivo's pretty clear that you should go monthly, that a lifetime is only for the 'lifetime' of the machine.

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Posted by consumer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2014 at 11:44 pm

"Sounds like ya screwed up dropping Comcast"
I saved enough money on TV, phone, and internet to buy a new TV in a few months. And I'm getting far better reception and more channels. I don't miss it.

My old Tivo worked with an antenna, odd that this one does not. @dvr's - can you think of any way to string together my two Tivo's that both work in order to make this work?

>" lifetime is only for the 'lifetime' of the machine."
Well, my machine still works. I'd like to keep using it. That's why I posted. The on-air signal provides the scheduling content. There was never any aspect of the contract that said lifetime only if I used Comcast. Actually, we tried setting it up with Comcast for awhile there and never could make it work. I'd love to get my money back just for that experiment, which I only did to try to salvage the Tivo. Again, "lifetime" with such planned obsolescence is deceptive marketing.

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Posted by consumer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Hey dvr's don't forget this thread before it drops into the abyss! I am looking forward to your advice!

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Posted by tivo
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 9, 2014 at 4:29 pm

"we tried setting it up with Comcast for awhile there and never could make it work."

That's crazy. If you and Tivo couldn't make it happen with simple cable, then I can't help.

Good luck.

"My old Tivo worked with an antenna, odd that this one does not"

Then that's not "such planned obsolescence" on Tivo's part, is it? That's bad installation, bad customer support by Tivo, or some combo of the two, including poor communication on the part of one or both parties.

I'd try weaknees, or some of the other blogs listed here Web Link

But I'd sstart over with Tivo tech support first.

my two cents

Like this comment
Posted by A Tivo User
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 10, 2014 at 12:51 am

Tivo removed the NTSC (Std.Def. - antenna) tuner ability from the Series2 Dual Tuner model, so they can sell the unit after the FCC deadline which required devices with an NTSC tuner to also have ATSC (Digital TV) abilities.

Series2 single tuner models received software upgrades to control DTV converter boxes, extending thier useful life. But the Dual tuner models did not get this update (nor did the Series 1 Tivos.)

Some users claim to have been able to control some DTV converters which have similar IR control commands as some cable boxes. I was able to do this with my Series 1 Tivo, but it wasn't reliable because the cable channel lineup could be different than off the air. Also the IR control codes weren't exaclty the same.

I took advantage of a Tivo offer in 2009 to transfer my lifetime sub. to a new TivoHD for a $99 fee.

Visit the website forums to look for what others have done. also has information on how to upgrade or repair Tivo's.

Like this comment
Posted by consumer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm

@A Tivo User,
Thanks for the info! The timing of the offer you took advantage of is interesting. If they offered to let me do same for $99, I would probably do it. They offered to let me do that for basically the cost of lifetime service. No thx. I want my money back or the kind of deal you got.... though I made such an effort to be sure I wasn't going to have to spend more money (again), I'd still be upset to pay more money when I've already spent so much on "lifetime" service.

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