September 3, 2009

Tivo terrible customer service

This post is hard to write. I love Tivo the product. But now I hate Tivo the company. The hard disk died in my Tivo Series 3 DVR. So, I called them and all they could offer was to replace it with a Tivo HD (a lesser box) for $200. So, I'd keep my outdated small hard disk size and get a lousier box for the price that they sell refurbished Tivos for. But they also suggested that I replace the disk on my own with a third party service. Yes, my box was out of warranty, but I just wanted to replace the hard disk - a pretty standard operation.

So, naturally I replaced the hard disk. I could have gone with a "name brand" (Weaknees), but that would have cost about $250 for a 1TB disk (loaded with the Tivo software). Instead I went with eBay and got the same 1TB disk with Tivo software for $150. But the disk had a problem. The seller graciously sent me a new one before I even sent back the old one, and this had a similar problem - so I suspected it was my Tivo. Here's where it gets interesting.

Tivo said:
  1. They never should have suggested I use a 3rd party to update the disk.
  2. They won't give me any help of any kind to get it to work.
  3. Since I opened the box, my non-warranty was invalidated, and they wouldn't even give me a trade-in box.

After speaking to 3 managers and higher level tech support, they maintained they would do nothing, nor give me any help of any kind. So in other words, my hard disk crashed (a pretty common occurrence for a hard-disk based system), and Tivo effectively said "toss your box in the garbage and buy a new one".

As it turns out, I did a "Clear and Delete" everything on the new disk, and it fixed up the flakiness, and I now have a perfectly functioning 1TB Tivo Series 3 - which I still love, but a bit less now that I know how little Tivo is willing to support their customers.

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Tech details: The problem I had with both disks was an "error #51", "hardware malfunction". It turns out that this commonly happens when replacing disks because of a mismatch between device and drive ID used for encryption. "Clear and Delete" is the standard procedure to fix this. But for the first disk, it did something bad because the box would never boot again. Thus, I was very reluctant to try it a second time. But when I had no choice, I did - and magically, it worked perfectly. I don't know if there was something wrong with the original disk or if there was a software screwup of some kind.

3 comments:

Aaron said...

Wow, just wow... Do you live in one incredible fantasy world. Tivo's terms and conditions clearly state that once any part of a Tivo DVR has been modified or replaced ALL SUPPORT privlidges are null and void, but I suspect you're another one of those makes up your own 'fantasy terms and conditions' types to better suite your wants... Fact is, you had no business contacting Tivo demanding they fix your modded machine. They should have immediately told you to never contact them again and hung up on your ass. Seriously.

What were you thinking? Shame on you. Oh, and read the god damn terms and conditions next time you buy a sophisticated electronics product. It will serve you well in the future.

Bladerunner 2019 said...

Wow,just wow... You really are a jerk Aaron. Do you work for Tivo? I paid $1000 for a Tivo series3 and $250 for an external hard drive 5 years ago and box is now dead. I was offered a Premiere with transfer of lifetime service for $350.00 only $200.00 cheaper then if I buy it outright. I have Macs with hard drives running fine 10 years later(sophisticated electronics product). Shame on you and Tivos poor support and inferior products.

AJ151 said...

I unfortunately have had similar experience with Tivo. They have a great product but unfortunately absolutely no appreciation for their long time customers.

TIVO is great as long as everything runs smooth but you are absolutely left alone once you need their help or any type of sign that they would value you as a customer. That is when the ICE COLD Tivo will hit you hard with todays unfortunate cold company attitude. All it takes is a great start-up that remembers that happy customers are the most loyal customers and Tivo will have a problem.