Caught in the DirecTV-TiVo crossfire

A post at DVR playground reports:

Apparently there are quite a few people having issues with DirecTV’s new HD DVR and DirecTV’s TiVo DVRs (such as the HR10-250) where people say the DVRs fail to record shows and mysteriously delete programs previously recorded.

I’ve been experiencing the same frustrating problems. (Read the details in DirecTiVo Amnesia?) For years, TiVo has been one of those products that just works. That’s no longer true, based on this experience.

DirecTV doesn’t want to fix or replace the TiVo-designed hardware that they sold me. (And the fact that it comes with only a one-year warranty means they’re within their rights, technically.) Instead, they want to take away the TiVo box I own and supply me with their own HR20-700 box (which gets generally lukewarm to crappy reviews) as a lease, with a two-year commitment. It is a more advanced box, with MPEG-4 support and at least the possibility of getting local channels in HD at the end of January, according to the DirecTV rep I spoke with. But I have no way of knowing whether I’ll be able to tolerate its interface or whether it will actually fix the problem. (At least one commenter at Media Central says it won’t.)

As customer support goes, this sucks. If your customer is having problems with equipment or service, do you use that opportunity to blackmail them? Yes, we’ll try to fix your problem, but only if you agree to pay our monthly charges for another two years. And if you don’t like the new hardware or it doesn’t fix the problem? Tough.

I’ll be talking with executives from TiVo and DirecTV at CES and will get the chance to ask them about these issues. If you’re experiencing similar problems, leave a comment.

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14 thoughts on “Caught in the DirecTV-TiVo crossfire

  1. I have had similar problems in that my standard def DirecTivo is starting to die, and I’m not sure what to do. I’d like to get something HiDef, but it seems everything they offer in that diretion is unreliable… Please inform us of what their reps say at CES.

  2. Can you ask if the recent liberty media changes at DirecTV will change TiVo relationship? The forced change to NDS HR20-700 and R15 seemed to be due to Murdoch owning both. As of now the TiVo’s will officially end being supported in 2008, even though they will be effectively abandoned once the current bugs in the 6.3x line for HR10-250 are resolved.

  3. Same type of “customer service’ Problem with Direct-TV.
    I have contacted “customer ah-service” several times by e-mail.
    The only answer is you need to call us because we don’t have the time to e-mail you an answer.
    Don’t have time or don’t know how???
    My problem is crappy “almost non-digital” reception.
    I know where and what the problem is but UNLESS I call them and REPLACE my fully paid for receiver with one of their crappy receivers and then pay more and a monthly fee on top of that I will get no service advise.
    REALLY BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE for a top rated vendor–oh I forgot there is only one other competitor.

  4. It is a joke, I’m having the same problem with my HD TiVo and they asked me to pay $200.00 and add two years of service to not own a receiver of theirs. The most frustrating thing is that I was promised I would be able to trade in my TiVo to get one of their HD receivers. I was essentially lied to so that I would commit to two years of service.

  5. Talk of parallel universes. The same thing goes on at Dish Network. Their previous HD-DVR (TiVO) model was a purchase, but the newer one is a two year lease. The new one has MPEG-4 capability – which it needs, since the new birds are exclusively MPEG-4.

    My biggest complaint, though is the scheduler. If I schedule a weekly program copy, and the name of the program changes, the scheduler cancels the copy – even if I WANT to copy the other program. I have to continually go through the weekly programs and make sure they haven’t been canceled by the “smart” scheduler.

    Lost recordings are a small, but VERY IRRITATING problem, too.

  6. I have a HDVR2 that I’ve had basically since they came out with them. I love it. I recently wanted to look into a high def DVR, but I wasn’t happy with the boxes that DirecTV offered, so I decided to hold out. Now my box is starting to cause problems for me, I might be forced to replace it with one. I’ve always been happy with DirecTV’s customer service, but this issue is not making me a happy customer. All I want is TiVo with DirecTV. Too much to ask for?

  7. see email thread to DTV:

    first email to them:

    I have not gotten a callback, HD DVR still stinks, doesn;t record, can’t view. Need it picked up by DTV, $ I paid you returned to me, and expire date of contract restored to 2/2008 or I am suing DirecTV. And asking lawyer to try for a class action. I am not a tester for you

    second email:
    That’s is why I feel a lawsuit may be needed.

    I did agree to the terms you mentioned, and have paid my additional monthly payment.
    I have not violated my agreement

    However, the agreement says you will give me a device that I can use to view broadcast material at a time of my choosing a device that can rewind live broadcasts, your DVR fails to consistently perform these functions and is unreliable.

    You have not kept your side of this agreement, and a judge will order you to waive the agreement, and make you pay me and potentially many other former viewers, punitive damages.

    Not to mention the bad press, that will overshadow the back to the future commercials I see.

    I want this box, but I need it to work properly or .
    as it stands now this agreement is “unenforeceable” since you have sold me a dud.
    you failed to provide me with what I bought, and have violated the agreement you like to mention.

    You see an agreement cuts both ways, you get something ( a commitment, and more $ from me)
    I get a good or service from you, All I have is crap, that is not reliable and can not be counted on to function properly.
    You refuse to fix it, You lied to me and it appears many others, this agreement is practically void. And I want out.
    All the goodwill Mr Chase developed with me has evaporated due to this hardware mess.
    How many people have been fired becasue of this disaster ?

    Just yesterday it failed during football, and would not rewind at all.
    it frooze and did not record 24 properly, even after a restart at 7:53pm when it showed some problems.
    Good thing I have an antenna for backup, it is needed with this product.

    I am not your tech, and this is not going to be me for the next 2 years.
    A copy of this email is being sent to

    third email to them:
    I will call your tech support people agai n, but since the first and only thing they seem to do is ask me to reset the receiver. I have bypassed the long phone wait by just resetting the thing myself.

    This is not what I wanted, I don’t remember seeing your promotion of this product mention that the user needs to reset it on a daily basis. Judging from the hundreds of complaints I see scattered across the internet.
    All recent posts, about similar problems with this device,
    your tech support department has to be familair with the issue and must have seen a pattern by know.

    I see you don’t have a problem contacting me, you would think someone from your support department could take a look at it. Any SW download can be done without me present.

    The delay in fixing this problem is either that you won’t or can’t.
    Both are unacceptable to me.

    I will be posting this, and all emails regrading this problem online, as I solicit someone to represent me in a class action against the company you represent..

  8. This has happened to me to. Also DirecTV “said” they would give me a free box, but the actual paperwork was for a lease. So annoying!

  9. I’m having the same problems. The new DirecTV HR20 is absolute junk. I have to reboot it at least once a day. Tonight, for example, it failed to record the latest episodes of 24 and Prison Break. Oops!

    By the way, has anyone else noticed that the limit to scheduled shows is 50? Sure 50 is a lot, but we have a family of 4 and they add up. I long for the days of my old Series 1 Philips DirecTV box. It was rock solid, no problems, nice interface. No HD, but I would take it back in a sec.

    JUNK! Don’t buy one.


  10. Well, after reading this..I will add my own two cents. I currently own an R15, and a direcTivo. I have had to have the R15(Directv PLUS Proprietary CRAP) replaced 4 times, yes 4 times last year. The Directivo I have never had any problems with. Tech support says they realize there is a problem, but does not have a fix. The Directv Tivo (Phillips is what I have) is a great product. Easy to setup and make changes to. I hate, repeat hate the R15 DirectvPlus box. The interface is a cheap horrible knockoff of the Tivo “style”, and I can only figure Directv does not want to pay the Tivo company for their product. Well..I have news for you…I would pay extra just to have the Tivo box back!! I have been a directv customer for 8 years, and never had any problems until I got “upgraded” to the R15 box. What a piece of CRAP.

  11. I dread the day I have to let my 2 Directv Tivo’s go (HDVR2 & R10). It is amazing that D*TV are able to hiughjack their customers this way. With crappy un-tested products that won’t work, particularly when they know how Tivo simply is the best system supplier on the market to day.

    We can only hope that the exit of Murdoch will also be the exit of the NDS based crap they are trying to lease “Cellphone” style to their customer based!

    Just unbelievable service! I actually are contemplating FIOS based service, instead of D*TV

  12. The HR20 boxes (2) that I have are awful. They lock up repeatedly, the remote loses contact with the unit, the screen pixalates in perfect weather, some shows fail to record, the remote is pooly designed and lacks easy slow motion. We have had to pull the plug on the two units over 20 times since we got them in October, 2006. I hate the whole HR20 system.

    My son has a TIVo3 connected to the Comcast network. The TIVO3 has an updated “peanut” remote that still retains the beautiful feel of the original, a superb menu system and recording features, an awesome picture. DirecTV’s severing of the TIVO relationship was the worse mistake they could have made.

    Now is a good time to short the DirecTV stock. Once they lose NFL Sunday ticket, the stock will plummet. Let’s all send nastygrams to to let him know how we feel.

  13. I think I’ll go with John Prine instead:

    “Blow up your TV, throw away your paper
    Go to the country, build you a home
    Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
    Try an find Jesus on your own.”

    Spanish Pipedream, 1971

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