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Old 04-03-2008, 03:59 PM   #1
Greg_R
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Tivo's downward spiral

I've recently gone back to Tivo after a 6 year hiatus and the difference in customer service & quality is astounding (in a bad way). My observations:

Six years ago:
- Features were added without causing major screwups to basic functionality
- Feature requests were addressed by Tivo (added or told why not)
- Calls to the support line got you in touch with someone who could actually help you with your problem. Follow up calls from Tivo occurred to keep you up to date on any issues.

Now:
- Major functionality problems occur with various units (Tivo HD's grey screen / loss of picture, Series 3 reboot problems, etc.)
- Tivo technical support claims they have never heard of the major problems despite 100s of message board posts showing the issue
- Problems are often blamed on other companies (Cable card problem, Verizon problem, etc.)
- Their phone system does not let you use VoIP phones to call them.
- When you call Tivo, there is a lot of background chatter (other CSRs talking, laughing, etc.). This is to the point where you can barely hear what your CSR is saying. Did they remove all the cubicle walls at Tivo? They need to put them back in... ASAP!
- Getting my Tivo account activated took over 3 weeks. At no time did I receive a call from someone working on my problem. Note that this was not a problem with my box seeing the account update... the problem was with them setting up my account on their system (lifetime transfer + 1 lifetime purchase). I couldn't quite figure out why it was so hard for them to accept my money?
- Support documents are spread out all over the place and descriptions for most advanced features do not come in the box.
- Complete lack of official online or forum support

I received a questionnaire from Tivo and was able to send them most of this feedback. They need to take a hard look at their customer service and make major improvements if they want to remain competitive. I'm sure there are companies (Apple, Dell, etc.) that are working on "Tivo Killer" types of products.

Greg
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:22 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
- Their phone system does not let you use VoIP phones to call them.
I'm not seeing alot of these issues you complain about like the S3 reboots etc... as for the following quote, Sorry but thats not true for me anyway... every call I've placed to TiVo in the past year has been with VoIP...
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Old 04-03-2008, 05:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
They need to take a hard look at their customer service and make major improvements if they want to remain competitive. I'm sure there are companies (Apple, Dell, etc.) that are working on "Tivo Killer" types of products.
I don't know about Apple's support towards Macintosh computers since it's been over 8 years since I owned a Mac.

However, I do own an iPod (actually, I am currently on iPod #3) and their support for this particular product SUCKS!! Everything has to be handled online. At least TiVo allows you to speak to a live human being somewhere here in North America, even if it means a long hold time.

As far as Dell...have you spoken with their customer service reps lately? Most of the time you get someone in India whose command of American English is shaky at best and whose actual technical knowledge is even shakier.

Many companies have promised the "TiVo Killer" and so far nobody's delivered. Apple's closest effort is the AppleTV, and it's little more than a device to stream video content purchased from the iTunes store to your TV. Apple couldn't be bothered to at least give it rudimentary DVR function, some 10 years after TiVo.
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Old 04-03-2008, 06:50 PM   #4
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Read this thread . TiVo really do try to do the right thing.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:24 PM   #5
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Greg,

Sorry to hear you haven't had a good experience. Are there any outstanding issues you need resolved? If so, please drop me a line at estephen@tivo.com and we will take care of any issue.

As a nine year employee of TiVo, I really can't agree with any of your observations, however.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
- Major functionality problems occur with various units (Tivo HD's grey screen / loss of picture, Series 3 reboot problems, etc.)
Every release of software from the very beginning has always caused a small percentage of customers to have an issue. The primary reason for this is marginal hard drives that are put over the edge by the software update process. Our QE department is about five times bigger than the one we had six years ago, and our testing processes are more automated than ever. Our reliability tests and customer support rates show that each software release gets better in terms of problems like the ones you mention. Please don't take isolated forum posts as any kind of evidence of a trend -- we have a lot more customers now, and people will seldom take the time to post that a software update doesn't cause a problem. So in the year 2002 if we had a problem that affected 0.1% (1 in 1000) of customers, you might see 10 posts about it here. In the year 2008, if we have a problem that affects 0.05% (1 in 2000) customers, you might see 30 or more posts about it here.

Quote:
- Tivo technical support claims they have never heard of the major problems despite 100s of message board posts showing the issue
Our support staff generally does not read this forum, and never has.

Quote:
- Problems are often blamed on other companies (Cable card problem, Verizon problem, etc.)
I'm sorry you feel we're passing the buck, but if the Cable Card is physically defective, there's little we can do about it. Please note that our agents will often help you call your cable company and stay on the phone with you to resolve any issues that are outside of our control.
Quote:
- Their phone system does not let you use VoIP phones to call them.
I'm sorry you're having trouble, but any VoIP phone should be able to reach our toll-free number with no problems. What VoIP provider do you use?
Quote:
- When you call Tivo, there is a lot of background chatter (other CSRs talking, laughing, etc.). This is to the point where you can barely hear what your CSR is saying. Did they remove all the cubicle walls at Tivo? They need to put them back in... ASAP!
All of our support agents (now and six years ago) are actually employees of a third party company. They've never had cubes. I'm sorry to hear about the background noise; let me know via e-mail (estephen@tivo.com) when you called, and I'll let the call center know that they have an issue during those times.
Quote:
- Getting my Tivo account activated took over 3 weeks. At no time did I receive a call from someone working on my problem. Note that this was not a problem with my box seeing the account update... the problem was with them setting up my account on their system (lifetime transfer + 1 lifetime purchase). I couldn't quite figure out why it was so hard for them to accept my money?
Sorry you had difficulty; almost all of our customers activate online or via our phone system and have an activated unit within 15 minutes. It sounds like you may have had an unusual situation; in general, I have to say your systems are a lot more capable and robust than they were six years ago. I'm very sorry to hear about the delay in getting you activated, but please accept my assurance that your case is the exception rather than the rule.
Quote:
- Support documents are spread out all over the place and descriptions for most advanced features do not come in the box.
Can you be more specific? I think we do a better job now rather than six years ago about getting the feature documentation into our manuals and tivo.com/support.
Quote:
- Complete lack of official online or forum support
I'm sorry but that's not true. Six years ago we didn't maintain an official help forum (http://forums.tivo.com/pe/index.jsp) and today we do. We also have representatives on this forum, same today as we did six years ago.

I'm very sorry you're disappointed, but having worked to help improve TiVo over the years, I have to say that I believe we're very very far ahead of where we were six years ago.

Best regards,
Stephen
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:31 PM   #6
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<snip>
Exactly the sort of post that proves the opposite of the original poster's complaints (though I understand they were made in frustration). Is it possible to spiral upwards?
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
Now:
- Major functionality problems occur with various units (Tivo HD's grey screen / loss of picture, Series 3 reboot problems, etc.)
- Tivo technical support claims they have never heard of the major problems despite 100s of message board posts showing the issue
That odd, I have owned four Tivo's for going on 9 years now and never had a single problem. My S2's and my S3 work just fine with no reboots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
Their phone system does not let you use VoIP phones to call them.
Wrong again. I have had VOIP for more than three years. Whenever I had a question I got through no problem at all.

The whole tone of your post, from the title right on through, seems crafted to try to put down Tivo.

Could it be that you are a Tivo hater who owns a Dish network DVR and you are angry that Tivo is suing Dish? Sure sounds that way to me.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:45 PM   #8
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I had two instances where the S3 wouldn't respond to command and had to do a cold reboot by yanking out the power cord, due to an update and never had any problems since.

The first rep I talked to setting up service on a Series 1 was amazingly awesome, the second guy gave me a bit of grief about purchasing an S3 on eBay and not getting support if the S3 failed that I was using a S1 to grandfather, but other than that no big deal. I was more worried about him being clueless (like reps from other companies) and having to fight for the grandfather transfer.

You're complaining about background chatter in a call center? Wow. If that's on the list of worst problems, then that's saying something good. Quit whining!

TiVo rocks! I just wish they could include the commercial skip of the ReplayTVs, but oh well.

Last edited by sleepeeg3 : 04-03-2008 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:50 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by webin View Post
Exactly the sort of post that proves the opposite of the original poster's complaints (though I understand they were made in frustration). Is it possible to spiral upwards?
I am pretty sure he is a disgruntled Tivo hater, probably because he is a Dish customer. Whenever someone has that much picky negative stuff to say that does not agree with my nine years of Tivo experience a red flag goes up, telling my gut instinct that there is a hidden agenda in that message.
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:01 PM   #10
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emphasis added by me
Quote:
Originally Posted by HPD View Post
I am pretty sure he is a disgruntled Tivo hater, probably because he is a Dish customer. Whenever someone has that much picky negative stuff to say that does not agree with my nine years of Tivo experience a red flag goes up, telling my gut instinct that there is a hidden agenda in that message.
and what is your agenda
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
Six years ago:
- Features were added without causing major screwups to basic functionality
- Feature requests were addressed by Tivo (added or told why not)
- Calls to the support line got you in touch with someone who could actually help you with your problem. Follow up calls from Tivo occurred to keep you up to date on any issues.
6 years ago TiVo had no where near the volume of customers and no where near the volume of features in a TiVo DVR that they do now.

Kind of like saying DOS 3.3 had no major bugs but Windows does and now Steve Ballmer no longer talks to developer me personally.

and yet here we have a very good Tivo rep who has been active in this forum for years ( he addressed some of my new customer concerns on HMO 3.5 years ago in the same polite, open to feedback manner) still taking the time to politely respond and whose first concern is "are there any issues you still need help with".
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
I've recently gone back to Tivo after a 6 year hiatus and the difference in customer service & quality is astounding (in a bad way). My observations:

Six years ago:
- Features were added without causing major screwups to basic functionality
- Feature requests were addressed by Tivo (added or told why not)
- Calls to the support line got you in touch with someone who could actually help you with your problem. Follow up calls from Tivo occurred to keep you up to date on any issues.

Now:
- Major functionality problems occur with various units (Tivo HD's grey screen / loss of picture, Series 3 reboot problems, etc.)
- Tivo technical support claims they have never heard of the major problems despite 100s of message board posts showing the issue
- Problems are often blamed on other companies (Cable card problem, Verizon problem, etc.)
- Their phone system does not let you use VoIP phones to call them.
- When you call Tivo, there is a lot of background chatter (other CSRs talking, laughing, etc.). This is to the point where you can barely hear what your CSR is saying. Did they remove all the cubicle walls at Tivo? They need to put them back in... ASAP!
- Getting my Tivo account activated took over 3 weeks. At no time did I receive a call from someone working on my problem. Note that this was not a problem with my box seeing the account update... the problem was with them setting up my account on their system (lifetime transfer + 1 lifetime purchase). I couldn't quite figure out why it was so hard for them to accept my money?
- Support documents are spread out all over the place and descriptions for most advanced features do not come in the box.
- Complete lack of official online or forum support

I received a questionnaire from Tivo and was able to send them most of this feedback. They need to take a hard look at their customer service and make major improvements if they want to remain competitive. I'm sure there are companies (Apple, Dell, etc.) that are working on "Tivo Killer" types of products.

Greg
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiVo_Fanatic View Post
I'm not seeing alot of these issues you complain about like the S3 reboots etc... as for the following quote, Sorry but thats not true for me anyway... every call I've placed to TiVo in the past year has been with VoIP...

last official thing I saw.

calls over voip are not supported.

maybe it works maybe it doesn't.

doesn't work on my voip.

That said- not sure it's a big deal- if one has voip then one has broadband- no? WHy clutter the phone line when you can use your network? All current tivo's come with ethernet ports- no?
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Old 04-03-2008, 09:06 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MichaelK View Post
last official thing I saw.

calls over voip are not supported.

maybe it works maybe it doesn't.

doesn't work on my voip.

That said- not sure it's a big deal- if one has voip then one has broadband- no? WHy clutter the phone line when you can use your network? All current tivo's come with ethernet ports- no?
I think/thought they were talking about actually calling Tivo customer service (using VOIP). Not the Tivo dialing out over VOIP. But maybe I am reading that wrong. (I must be reading that wrong. I assumed it was the call center by TivoStephen's response. ) VOIP never worked for me with Lingo when I had it.

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Old 04-03-2008, 09:36 PM   #15
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Phone call.... that's so 90's. Get broadband and use that... since you say you're using VOIP anyway.

Quote:
Their phone system does not let you use VoIP phones to call them.

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Old 04-03-2008, 09:47 PM   #16
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I am a "new" tivo user for the past 3-4 months. I love it! It's so much better than dealing with home theater pcs, or comcast boxes. I do pay more, but it is worth it. I have never had any issues with my TIVo boxes, other than of course cablecard issues, but that is Comcast's fault. I had a few minor things here and there that I called TIVO for, and they took care of everything.

I love TIVO, and their customer service is not half bad. I hope they continue to be around for a long time, because TIVO has really changed the way I watch TV, and has saved me from all the headaches and time I put into Home theater pc applications and hardware.

Thanks Tivo!
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Old 04-03-2008, 09:47 PM   #17
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I have had 1 S2 issue with the upgrades, it turned out to be
a flaky hard drive - after a lot of playing with it including some
kick starts, I bit the bullet and replaced the drive - no problems
with that one since.
My S3 and TivoHD have had some of the issues that everyone
is having, grey screen, losing time, menu lockup ... but no
random or continual rebooting and there have been repeated
assurances from tivo personnel here and on the tivo support
forum that they are working on all of these.
I have called tivo CS on (I think) three occassions and got
satisfactory action for all three.
I would have to say that tivo has improved greatly since I
got my first S2 many years ago.
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Old 04-03-2008, 09:57 PM   #18
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VOIP works for me when I call customer service. So, I'm not sure either if that's what they were complaining about.

It never worked with my DTivo but now that I have the real thing.... why would I ever want to use VOIP anyway... cause you Tivo can do so much more.




Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_burns View Post
I think/thought they were talking about actually calling Tivo customer service (using VOIP). Not the Tivo dialing out over VOIP. But maybe I am reading that wrong. (I must be reading that wrong. I assumed it was the call center by TivoStephen's response. ) VOIP never worked for me with Lingo when I had it.

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Old 04-03-2008, 10:05 PM   #19
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Our support staff generally does not read this forum, and never has.
I realize this, and I would have said the same thing if you hadn't.

But *PLEASE* put up http://bugreport.tivo.com or something like that where we can give SPECIFIC bug reports! I've read the various bug report threads here, and think I see a few that haven't been mentioned.
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:19 PM   #20
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But *PLEASE* put up http://bugreport.tivo.com or something like that where we can give SPECIFIC bug reports! I've read the various bug report threads here, and think I see a few that haven't been mentioned.
That would be a big help. I called TiVo regarding a couple of (to me) severe bugs, the main one being the inability for my Series 2 to play back a 16:9 video in the correct aspect ratio on a widescreen TV and it was a PAIN to try and describe it. The CSR simply didn't believe me, because she claimed that the Series 2 had never been able to play back widescreen videos at all. I got her to report the bug, but honestly I didn't get the feeling that report, if she took it at all, would ever lead anywhere.

A simple bug reporting page similar to the line-up change page would be most welcome. It's not like I believe nobody at TiVo knows about this bug, but at least frequency of reporting might help them prioritize.
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:55 PM   #21
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I can confirm what the poster said re: VIOP phones not working. When I had Verizon voicewing service, I could not call tivo support. The tivo phone system would not understand me pressing "2" (or whatever number it was) for Tivo support. I had to call back with a cell phone.
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Old 04-04-2008, 12:22 AM   #22
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I've recently gone back to Tivo after a 6 year hiatus and the difference in customer service & quality is astounding (in a bad way). My observations:
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Old 04-04-2008, 01:16 AM   #23
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I tend to agree with the general idea the original poster has. There was a time when Tivo wasn't so secretive about bugfixes and new features. Now we not only have to guess when the next software release will be but also if it even addresses the specific bug in mind.

There are also features that a significant portion of the community has asked for which are ignored. For example QAM mapping, true M-Card support on the S3, digital set top box support on the S2, free space indicator etc...

Why doesn't Tivo monitor this forum more closely? The amount of real world information on the product would be invaluable to any other company.

My join date may only be 2004 but I promise I've been around the scene for a while, IRL in fact...

Its too bad that the fanboys will be out in force or I'd try harder.
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Old 04-04-2008, 12:02 PM   #24
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I tend to agree with the general idea the original poster has. There was a time when Tivo wasn't so secretive about bugfixes and new features. Now we not only have to guess when the next software release will be but also if it even addresses the specific bug in mind.

There are also features that a significant portion of the community has asked for which are ignored. For example QAM mapping, true M-Card support on the S3, digital set top box support on the S2, free space indicator etc...
I'm sorry you feel we've become more secretive, having been here from day one I'd argue that's not the case. Our product roadmap has never been public, as we've had to explain here on the forum many times over the years (yes, prior to 2004). Even back when Replay was our only competitor we were careful about how and when information was shared...there's nothing like giving a competitor free information on what you're doing. I will agree that there was a period, about four years ago, where we had a string of unfortunate leaks regarding new features. Those were not planned, sanctioned, or in any way helpful to us, trust me. You shouldn't take a lack of leaks as a change in policy though...we didn't intend to have the leaks to begin with!

There have never been release notes regarding bug fixes in the past either. It's possible that we're not any more secretive today than you remember us being.

Regarding the specific features you've asked about, the free space indicator is certainly the longest running request. Longevity does not equal priority though. If that single feature would have sold more boxes and increased customer satisfaction for a significant portion of our subscribers, it would have been added years ago. It may get in there one day, but when prioritized against other things, it's often pretty low on the list.

Likewise, features such as QAM remapping and M-Card S3 support do not target a significant portion of our subscribers, both are in fact very small numbers of subscribers. That doesn't mean that they automatically get set aside, or that TiVo is ignoring or doesn't care about those customers. But it is a consideration when trading off those features against others (M-Card for S3 is technically possible, but also technically very complex. We've learned that there is a lot of risk inherent in that development).

I assume by 'digital setup support for S2' you're referring to the ATSC converter boxes just coming onto the market in advance of next February's cut over for antenna signals (cable is not affected). That's being worked on, but I don't have a date or support plans to share yet.

We're also pretty open here, myself, Jerry, and Stephen, about engaging with customers who have issues, helping to identify what can be done, soliciting help (and beta testers), etc. There aren't many companies that allow employees to participate on open forums the way that TiVo does.

We do our best. But I have to acknowledge that no matter how much time we spend here, there will always be one more post to answer. If we can help, and provide information, we always will. Just don't ask for our product roadmap.

Cheers,
Pony
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Old 04-04-2008, 12:05 PM   #25
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I tend to agree with the general idea the original poster has.

Why doesn't Tivo monitor this forum more closely? The amount of real world information on the product would be invaluable to any other company.
There is no question his overall premise is correct, although some of his specifics are unique or wrong.

TiVo only reads the posts about how wonderful it is, thus perpetuating its self delusion.

Stephen has a rock solid reputation for credibility and I don´t like seeing him getting in here with the sort of stuff we usually get from TiVoPony.
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Old 04-04-2008, 01:34 PM   #26
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...snip...
I have to applaud the way you stick with this forum, helping people, answering questions and responding to comments. At times, this forum comes across like it's full of whinging, whining know-it-alls who believe they officially represent all the TiVo owners out there and expect everything they say and ask for to be immediately acted upon. In reality, this forum probably only voices the opinions of a fraction of the total TiVo ownership out there and as is usual with forums like this, speaks mainly for those who are unhappy or have genuine issues. The negativity can get overwhelming!

Personally, I'm perfectly happy with my TiVoHD. It has it's quirks and over time, I've had to reboot it a few times to clear up some menu and video issues, but overall, it hasn't seriously let me down and it organizes my TV viewing the way I want it to. I like it when new features come along and I'm very happy when bugs are fixed, but I don't presume to demand that TiVo jump when I say jump and build a device to my exact specifications! I don't own the company and until I do, I'll take what I can get as the product evolves over time.

If ever I get to the point where I don't like the direction TiVo is heading or the service it offers, I'll vote with my cheque book and move on. Until then, add me to the satisfied customer column. Good job TiVo! I can't wait to see what you come up with next.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:28 PM   #27
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I can confirm what the poster said re: VIOP phones not working. When I had Verizon voicewing service, I could not call tivo support. The tivo phone system would not understand me pressing "2" (or whatever number it was) for Tivo support. I had to call back with a cell phone.
my home phone has been using a different voip service for many years. I've called tivo support many times and never had any trouble getting through the touch tone menus.
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:26 PM   #28
ZeoTiVo
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Originally Posted by TiVoPony View Post
Regarding the specific features you've asked about, the free space indicator is certainly the longest running request. Longevity does not equal priority though. If that single feature would have sold more boxes and increased customer satisfaction for a significant portion of our subscribers, it would have been added years ago. It may get in there one day, but when prioritized against other things, it's often pretty low on the list.

Likewise, features such as QAM remapping and M-Card S3 support do not target a significant portion of our subscribers, both are in fact very small numbers of subscribers. That doesn't mean that they automatically get set aside, or that TiVo is ignoring or doesn't care about those customers. But it is a consideration when trading off those features against others (M-Card for S3 is technically possible, but also technically very complex. We've learned that there is a lot of risk inherent in that development).

I assume by 'digital setup support for S2' you're referring to the ATSC converter boxes just coming onto the market in advance of next February's cut over for antenna signals (cable is not affected). That's being worked on, but I don't have a date or support plans to share yet.
Wow, TiVoPony! That was a boatlaod of info people have been asking about here for some time. Thanks for the info

Now as a 4 year TiVo fan whom you know supports the products and your involvemnet here in a positive way - let me give some (i hope) constructive feedback on this.
Why did it take a negative thread by someone to finally get that info straight from the Ponies mouth? I do indeed take your point that there is always one more post to answer and I would not think you have the time to keep replying in every thread about say ATSC converters for series 2 but you obviously know such threads have been around a while. 4 years ago we might have seen some of your infamous hint posts a few months ago to steer us on how that will play out. Now it is not so much. So clearly we (well most we) appreciate it when you post such information but it does seem you have become busier and the forum is left with less straight scoop from TiVo then it used to have. I can only imagine how it must have been 2 years even before I came along and the original poster was here.

Quote:
We're also pretty open here, myself, Jerry, and Stephen, about engaging with customers who have issues, helping to identify what can be done, soliciting help (and beta testers), etc. There aren't many companies that allow employees to participate on open forums the way that TiVo does.

We do our best.
Yes I think you do, back on the positive side I consider this forum, and the TiVo associates who post here, and do indeed help out a lot of posters, one of the best features of TiVo
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:51 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by bigguy126 View Post
I can confirm what the poster said re: VIOP phones not working. When I had Verizon voicewing service, I could not call tivo support. The tivo phone system would not understand me pressing "2" (or whatever number it was) for Tivo support. I had to call back with a cell phone.
That would not be TiVo's issue. The problem is in the VoIP service. There are multiple methods to relay DTMF signalling over VoIP. The worst is in the voice band. It MAY work over G.711 if the jitter is sufficiently low. DTMF inband over G.729 is almost assured to fail. The preferred method is RFC2833.
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Old 04-04-2008, 06:01 PM   #30
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Why did it take a negative thread by someone to finally get that info straight from the Ponies mouth?
Because scurrilous accusations require response. It's pretty despicable that folks would resort to such scurrilous accusations, though.
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