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Old 12-04-2013, 10:50 PM   #1
nyctwc
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Open Letter to Tom Rogers, Tivo CEO and Tivo Management

I have been a Tivo customer for over ten years. My original Series 2 Tivo was a great product at the time, but since then every unit I've owned (Series 3 HD, Premiere XL, Premiere XL4, Stream, Mini and now Roamio Pro) has had so many bugs, including the service outage by Tivo’s servers all night yesterday.

You can browse the support forums here at Tivo Community and on Tivo’s own website and see numerous problems users have been experiencing due to poor engineering and software bugs. When is Tivo management going to get its act together and get the engineers and support staff to resolve all of these problems everyone is having in a timely manner? Does the management board even know about these problems? Do you use Tivos the way most users do on a daily basis to know how many problems there are, or is this just another case of a company being run by a board of executives with business degrees and no depth of understanding of the product that they’re selling?

Among the long list of problems I've been experiencing: Padding time to Season Pass recordings creating a 2nd manual recording, numerous problems connecting to Wifi, frequent problems connecting to the Tivo outside my home network, Tivo Desktop for Mac not having been updated in several years, Roxio's Tivo Transfer not working at all with the Roamio Pro, the iOS Tivo App showing the wrong disk percentage, the inability to transfer some older recordings from another Tivo. The list goes on and on. When Tivo’s servers went down last night, there was no way for Tivo owners to know that the errors they were getting were a result of the servers being down. This information should have been made available on Tivo’s website. This shows an incredible lack of communication between Tivo and their customers.

These are issues that have been ongoing for months, and in some cases, years. The Level 1 phone support staff doesn't know how to solve these known issues. Incredibly, many aren’t even aware that these problems are known issues. They make you go through their canned troubleshooting guide over the phone, which is an incredible waste of everyone’s time. The Level 2 support staff seems to know about some of the problems, but the Level 1 staff makes it really difficult for Tivo owners to get through to them. It seems that the only decent support for Tivo owners is on their website forum and here at Tivo Community, but we only have the ability to make each other aware of known problems, not fix them.

This is completely unacceptable for an $1,100 product (Roamio Pro with Lifetime Service). I wish there was a better alternative for a standalone DVR besides the cable companies’ DVRs, which have far fewer features. Currently, I’m only a Tivo customer out of a lack of better options.

Tivo management, please take the necessary steps to recognize the numerous problems Tivo users are having and find a way to get the engineering and support staff to fix them and communicate with customers in a timely and efficient way.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:16 PM   #2
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Do you follow TiVoMargrets posts on here? It'd be interesting to do a count of the number of problems she's been active with, both in querying users for more data (for the engineers), as well as communicating the contents of all of the Roamio updates that have gone out over the last few months (i.e. is the bug fixed in this particular update).

Regarding "Among the long list of problems I've been experiencing: Padding time to Season Pass recordings creating a 2nd manual recording":

Quote:
Originally Posted by TiVoMargret View Post
I believe it is fixed in the *next* update. I'm currently expecting that update in mid-December.

--Margret
I agree that there shouldn't have been as many bugs though.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:32 PM   #3
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Early adopters always experience bugs. If you want a more solid product, always wait until they've been out for a while.
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:47 AM   #4
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Early adopters always experience bugs. If you want a more solid product, always wait until they've been out for a while.
Sure, just ask those Premiere owners.
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Old 12-05-2013, 07:09 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by nyctwc View Post
I have been a Tivo customer for over ten years.
..............................
This is completely unacceptable for an $1,100 product (Roamio Pro with Lifetime Service). I wish there was a better alternative for a standalone DVR besides the cable companiesí DVRs, which have far fewer features. Currently, Iím only a Tivo customer out of a lack of better options.
...........
LOL ... hope that rant made you feel better (which is about all it could accomplish). Your comments quoted above provide the reality that undermines any logic in your position.

Tivo provides the best value you can find ---- for ten years!

This reminds me of the WalMart employees whining about what lousy low paying jobs they have. Meanwhile every time a new WalMart opens, offering 300 jobs, more than 10,000 people apply for them.

Nobody forces you to use Tivo (or to work at WalMart). If you can do better somewhere else --- do it!

You presume to know better ways to run Tivo. Whether the changes you request would actually result in a better Tivo (from the viewpoints of tivo employees, stockholders and consumers) is highly questionable. They might just result in overpriced products, falling sales and extinction. You don't get to decide this, and aren't in a position to know the answer.
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:02 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by geekmedic View Post
Early adopters always experience bugs. If you want a more solid product, always wait until they've been out for a while.
LOL, you haven't owned the same Tivos I have. Everyone is an early adopter/beta tester no matter how long you own the box. They are famous for breaking as much stuff as they fix with every software update.
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:05 AM   #7
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I have to agree with the prior poster. My experience with TIVO over the years has been positive. Like others, I experiences the loss of some functionality the other night, but it was not the end of the world and certainly not enough to justify a full barreled rant against TIVO.

My guess is that the TIVO team will address the cause of the partial outage and will respond to some of the suggestions from posters who may have been affected, as they have in the past with other issues.
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:08 AM   #8
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Been a TiVo user since 2001, I can't recall an outage like the recent one. So in 12 years they have one outage at the mothership and it creates mass-hysteria around here? Seems like a gross overreaction to me.
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:17 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by nyctwc View Post
When is Tivo management going to get its act together and get the engineers and support staff to resolve all of these problems everyone is having in a timely manner? Does the management board even know about these problems?
Regarding management being aware of these problems, TiVo's Vice President of Design & Engineering / Chief Design Officer (TiVoMargret) has been participating on this forum (which isn't affiliated with TiVo, Inc) for over three years now, and has been very active here since the Roamio launch.

From what I've seen, she's been involved with most of the major Roamio bugs reported here, in terms of being the liaison between forum users here and the engineers there, as well as communicating when the updates are slated to come out, and what's in them.

I can't think of another electronics product that I own where a VP of the company interacts "amongst the commoners" (esp. on a fan forum that isn't owned/moderated by their company), to the point of posting her direct email address and asking people with issues to contact her.

I'm not saying that there's no room for improvement with TiVo communication (or debugging of products before launch), and don't even get me started about how disconnected TiVo customer support is from the issues that she's involved with on the forum here, but on the same note, I don't think one can make the case that TiVo management is unaware of Roamio issues or not attempting to communicate about them.

I use this link to follow her posts here:
http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...duser&u=198507
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Last edited by aristoBrat : 12-05-2013 at 09:05 AM. Reason: Fixed link
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by aristoBrat View Post
Regarding management being aware of these problems, TiVo's Vice President of Design & Engineering / Chief Design Officer (TiVoMargret) has been participating on this forum (which isn't affiliated with TiVo, Inc) for over three years now, and has been very active here since the Roamio launch.

From what I've seen, she's been involved with most of the major Roamio bugs reported here, in terms of being the liaison between forum users here and the engineers there, as well as communicating when the updates are slated to come out, and what's in them.

I can't think of another electronics product that I own where a VP of the company interacts "amongst the commoners" (esp. on a fan forum that isn't owned/moderated by their company), to the point of posting her direct email address and asking people with issues to contact her.

I'm not saying that there's no room for improvement with TiVo communication (or debugging of products before launch), and don't even get me started about how disconnected TiVo customer support is from the issues that she's involved with on the forum here, but on the same note, I don't think one can make the case that TiVo management is unaware of Roamio issues or not attempting to communicate about them.

I use this link to follow her posts here:
http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...=7926400&pp=30
Link doesn't work.
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:35 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by BiloxiGeek View Post
Been a TiVo user since 2001, I can't recall an outage like the recent one. So in 12 years they have one outage at the mothership and it creates mass-hysteria around here? Seems like a gross overreaction to me.
What happened the other night? I did notice that the DIscovery bar was out. But it had zero effect on me watching my recorded content. I watched my shows like normal. Now if that gets affected I would have an issue, but some of the other features are secondary since I have many other devices that can accomplish the same task. It's just more convenient to have one device do most that. But an occassional glitch is not the end of the world. Since there is no device out there that doesn't have an issue at one time or another.
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:42 AM   #12
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What happened the other night? I did notice that the DIscovery bar was out. But it had zero effect on me watching my recorded content. I watched my shows like normal. Now if that gets affected I would have an issue, but some of the other features are secondary since I have many other devices that can accomplish the same task. It's just more convenient to have one device do most that. But an occassional glitch is not the end of the world. Since there is no device out there that doesn't have an issue at one time or another.
The mothership wasn't online for some reason. So that Discovery bar was out, the IOS app wasn't functioning, I couldn't get Netflix so the wife was a little unhappy since we couldn't continue our binge watching of Sons of Anarchy. But like you said, recorded content was fine, live TV was also fine and scheduled recordings were happening as expected.

It was a little frustrating that the IOS app needs the TiVo and the mothership to be online and available, but I have a remote so it wasn't like I don't have a perfectly reasonable work-around.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:06 AM   #13
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Link doesn't work.
Thanks, I updated it with this one. Hopefully this one works.

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...duser&u=198507
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:11 AM   #14
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LOL ... hope that rant made you feel better (which is about all it could accomplish). Your comments quoted above provide the reality that undermines any logic in your position.

Tivo provides the best value you can find ---- for ten years!

This reminds me of the WalMart employees whining about what lousy low paying jobs they have. Meanwhile every time a new WalMart opens, offering 300 jobs, more than 10,000 people apply for them.

Nobody forces you to use Tivo (or to work at WalMart). If you can do better somewhere else --- do it!

You presume to know better ways to run Tivo. Whether the changes you request would actually result in a better Tivo (from the viewpoints of tivo employees, stockholders and consumers) is highly questionable. They might just result in overpriced products, falling sales and extinction. You don't get to decide this, and aren't in a position to know the answer.
dlfl, with over 5,400 posts almost every day on this forum for the past three years, I'm suspecting that you have some association with Tivo. Are you a current or former employee?
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:20 AM   #15
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dlfl, with over 5,400 posts almost every day on this forum for the past three years, I'm suspecting that you have some association with Tivo. Are you a current or former employee?
This is a TiVo fan-site. I think you're going to find a ton of users here with way more posts than dlfl that have absolutely zero association with TiVo, other than being (or having been) a product owner.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:24 AM   #16
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dlfl, with over 5,400 posts almost every day on this forum for the past three years, I'm suspecting that you have some association with Tivo. Are you a current or former employee?
The best you can do in response is make a completely baseless, false accusation?

If you have been reading some of those 5400 posts, you would realize how ridiculous such a question is. I remember when Dlfl came to the forums - he was not happy at all with TiVo and his situation!
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:30 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by aaronwt View Post
What happened the other night? I did notice that the DIscovery bar was out. But it had zero effect on me watching my recorded content. I watched my shows like normal. Now if that gets affected I would have an issue, but some of the other features are secondary since I have many other devices that can accomplish the same task. It's just more convenient to have one device do most that. But an occassional glitch is not the end of the world. Since there is no device out there that doesn't have an issue at one time or another.
Server problems, apparently, but not affecting recording, playback, etc., just streaming and app functions. I was happy to know the problem was on their end and wasn't affecting basic operations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aristoBrat
I can't think of another electronics product that I own where a VP of the company interacts "amongst the commoners" (esp. on a fan forum that isn't owned/moderated by their company), to the point of posting her direct email address and asking people with issues to contact her.

I'm not saying that there's no room for improvement with TiVo communication (or debugging of products before launch), and don't even get me started about how disconnected TiVo customer support is from the issues that she's involved with on the forum here, but on the same note, I don't think one can make the case that TiVo management is unaware of Roamio issues or not attempting to communicate about them.
I would agree. Tivo ownership isn't exactly exploding these days, so they know that people aren't going to put up with a lot of problems and an unresponsive company. I think they're doing everything they can to fix issues but they don't have unlimited resources.
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:24 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by nyctwc View Post
dlfl, with over 5,400 posts almost every day on this forum for the past three years, I'm suspecting that you have some association with Tivo. Are you a current or former employee?
Quote:
Originally Posted by aristoBrat View Post
This is a TiVo fan-site. I think you're going to find a ton of users here with way more posts than dlfl that have absolutely zero association with TiVo, other than being (or having been) a product owner.
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The best you can do in response is make a completely baseless, false accusation?

If you have been reading some of those 5400 posts, you would realize how ridiculous such a question is. I remember when Dlfl came to the forums - he was not happy at all with TiVo and his situation!
Er .... yeah. That's the ticket!

Just for the record I have absolutely no affiliation with TiVo and do not own any Tivo stock.

How's that old aphorism go? Something like .. If you can't win an argument on facts, resort to emotion. If that doesn't work attack the person.

I have had and still have complaints about Tivo. I just don't think giving them sanctimonious lectures to straighten up and fly right is of much value. The original post would more appropriately be delivered directly to Rogers or TivoMargret. I suspect it was yet another attempt to rouse the rabble on this forum and lead a torchlight procession to the Tivo castle to kill the monster.
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:32 AM   #19
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I suspect it was yet another attempt to rouse the rabble on this forum and lead a torchlight procession to the Tivo castle to kill the monster.
Couldn't help but get a mental image of Elmer Fudd...

Kill the wabbit, Kill the wabbit!
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Old 12-05-2013, 06:13 PM   #20
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What happened the other night? I did notice that the DIscovery bar was out. But it had zero effect on me watching my recorded content. I watched my shows like normal. Now if that gets affected I would have an issue, but some of the other features are secondary since I have many other devices that can accomplish the same task. It's just more convenient to have one device do most that. But an occassional glitch is not the end of the world. Since there is no device out there that doesn't have an issue at one time or another.
It exposed some weird restrictions. For example I tried to cancel a recording from my To Do List and it wouldn't let me because the server was down. WHy does it need to contact the server to cancel a recording? There was also no way to search so the only way to setup new recordings was to use the guide. It also blocked access to Netflix and Hulu.

Basically it demonstrated to a lot of people, including myself, how much the HDUI depends on that internet connection and we were caught off guard.
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Old 12-05-2013, 07:44 PM   #21
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I find it amazing that after complaining about the numerous and obvious problems that exist with Tivo, Inc., that there are some that are directing their criticism at me.

If you were the owner or manager of a business, wouldn't you want to know about problems that existed in your business so that you could fix them? I certainly would. After all, that is the main purpose of having a "manager." Have you ever called Level 1 support only to have some rep spend tens of minutes on the phone with you troubleshooting, when you know the problem is on their end and you merely want to report it to make them aware of it so that they can fix it? That is extremely inefficient for everyone involved, and hiring those Level 1 employees comes at a great cost to Tivo, Inc. How hard could it be to create a database of known issues and have that entered into the troubleshooting guide that the Level 1 staff consults when they are diagnosing a problem with a customer so that they don’t waste their time troubleshooting known issues? Why is it so difficult to have a problem that you know is a bug reported to Level 2 support and have them share that information with everyone in the department? If I managed customer support, this would be my top priority and I'm certain it would result in a big cost savings overall to the company.

As for the outage yesterday, how difficult could it be to put a message on Tivo.com's website saying that there was an outage with Tivo's servers that would affect service. It would have taken someone 15 minutes to do this and could have saved Customer Support countless hours of support time answering phone calls from confused customers. As an alternative, they could have sent an email to customers saying that they were experiencing problems and were working quickly to resolve them. I'm sure they maintain a database of customers' email addresses.

As for the bugs, how difficult could it be to fix the disk percentage problem on the iOS Tivo App? Granted, I'm not a programmer, but I can't imagine it takes the three months I've been waiting for it to be fixed. Are they even aware that this problem exists? As I said, they don't even maintain a central database of known issues, so there's not way to even know if they know about this problem or not. When I first called up to report this issue, nobody seemed to know about it and the Level 1 staff were doing everything they could not to escalate the issue, which I suspect is on purpose. This is also a systemic problem with the way Customer Support works.

So as I'm being accused of "whining," I feel that I'm addressing serious concerns as a Tivo customer who wants to see the company do better and succeed. While I did not originally make suggestions on how it could be better, it is not my job to do so. As a customer, I feel that it is my obligation to make management aware that it is having problems that aren't being addressed.

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Old 12-05-2013, 08:35 PM   #22
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Its just the approach you employed. I'd love to see these issues tracked in an open forum that allowed customers / field trial folks to open tickets and have a means track tickets.

Honestly feel that an Open approach to the way Redhat, Apache, etc allow customers open tickets would help the community here and let Tivo prioritize based on feedback.

IF the community organized to open such a ticket system itself (Bugzilla, etc) that wasn't full of rants and rubbish, I'd think it could have greater impact with Tivo.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:02 PM   #23
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Is no one even going to bring up the fact that this "Open Letter" is posted to a fan site and will never be read by Tom Rogers or TiVo Management?
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:29 PM   #24
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If you were the owner or manager of a business, wouldn't you want to know about problems that existed in your business so that you could fix them? I certainly would.
I've had at least 10 interactions with TiVo customer service over the last few months (between setting up the transfer of Lifetime Service on all of the old boxes I sold + coordinating exchanges for a failed mini and a failed Roamio), and after each each time I received an email asking my opinion on the support that I received.

And IIRC, at least two of the phone calls gave me the option to do the survey while still on the phone by instructing me to ask the agent to "transfer me to the survey" at the end of the call.

Quote:
From: TiVo Customer Support Satisfaction Survey
Subject: How’d we do? Take this quick survey on TiVo customer support.

Hey, Jason!

We want to know about your last experience with TiVo Customer Support on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. Please take a moment to fill out this brief survey and help us better serve you. We appreciate and value your participation.

Please click here to take the survey.

Thanks!
The TiVo Team
Incident Number: ######-#####
It's interesting to me how we can both be TiVo owners and have such different views.

You see TiVo management as being unaware of bugs and not being communicative, whereas I see that TiVo has a Vice President actively working on this forum (a fan site) with customers to squash bugs and communicate about when updates are rolling out (and what bugs are fixed in them).

You see it taking an Open Letter to open TiVo management's eyes regarding customer service interactions, whereas I'm being so frequently asked by TiVo to talk about what I thought of their customer service that it's borderline irritating.

IMO, there's a bunch of stuff TiVo could improve on to make owners experiences better. And I don't think you'll find a single person in this thread that disagrees with that statement. I think it's like what jwbelcher said... it's the approach you took that's generating the friction.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:50 PM   #25
ltxi
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Originally Posted by BiloxiGeek View Post
Been a TiVo user since 2001, I can't recall an outage like the recent one. So in 12 years they have one outage at the mothership and it creates mass-hysteria around here? Seems like a gross overreaction to me.
Couldn't agree more. Since 2000 here.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:54 PM   #26
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I find it amazing that after complaining about the numerous and obvious problems that exist with Tivo, Inc., that there are some that are directing their criticism at me.

If you were the owner or manager of a business, wouldn't you want to know about problems that existed in your business so that you could fix them? I certainly would. After all, that is the main purpose of having a "manager." Have you ever called Level 1 support only to have some rep spend tens of minutes on the phone with you troubleshooting, when you know the problem is on their end and you merely want to report it to make them aware of it so that they can fix it? That is extremely inefficient for everyone involved, and hiring those Level 1 employees comes at a great cost to Tivo, Inc. How hard could it be to create a database of known issues and have that entered into the troubleshooting guide that the Level 1 staff consults when they are diagnosing a problem with a customer so that they donít waste their time troubleshooting known issues? Why is it so difficult to have a problem that you know is a bug reported to Level 2 support and have them share that information with everyone in the department? If I managed customer support, this would be my top priority and I'm certain it would result in a big cost savings overall to the company.

As for the outage yesterday, how difficult could it be to put a message on Tivo.com's website saying that there was an outage with Tivo's servers that would affect service. It would have taken someone 15 minutes to do this and could have saved Customer Support countless hours of support time answering phone calls from confused customers. As an alternative, they could have sent an email to customers saying that they were experiencing problems and were working quickly to resolve them. I'm sure they maintain a database of customers' email addresses.

As for the bugs, how difficult could it be to fix the disk percentage problem on the iOS Tivo App? Granted, I'm not a programmer, but I can't imagine it takes the three months I've been waiting for it to be fixed. Are they even aware that this problem exists? As I said, they don't even maintain a central database of known issues, so there's not way to even know if they know about this problem or not. When I first called up to report this issue, nobody seemed to know about it and the Level 1 staff were doing everything they could not to escalate the issue, which I suspect is on purpose. This is also a systemic problem with the way Customer Support works.

So as I'm being accused of "whining," I feel that I'm addressing serious concerns as a Tivo customer who wants to see the company do better and succeed. While I did not originally make suggestions on how it could be better, it is not my job to do so. As a customer, I feel that it is my obligation to make management aware that it is having problems that aren't being addressed.
Sorry, or not, to say this dude....you are definitely whining.
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:05 PM   #27
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Early adopters always experience bugs. If you want a more solid product, always wait until they've been out for a while.
Pioneers (Western) are the ones with the arrows in their backs.
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:12 PM   #28
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Pioneers (Western) are the ones with the arrows in their backs.
And, not being from New York, they just cut off the shafts and get on with their lives...
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:37 PM   #29
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Its just the approach you employed. I'd love to see these issues tracked in an open forum that allowed customers / field trial folks to open tickets and have a means track tickets.

Honestly feel that an Open approach to the way Redhat, Apache, etc allow customers open tickets would help the community here and let Tivo prioritize based on feedback.

IF the community organized to open such a ticket system itself (Bugzilla, etc) that wasn't full of rants and rubbish, I'd think it could have greater impact with Tivo.
I employed this approach because I felt that there was no other way to get this message to management. Does anybody know how to do this without it getting lost in a vacuum of several tiers of lower level employees and useless surveys?

I do appreciate that Margaret monitors and responds to issues here, which is partly why I chose this place to complain. It is atrocious that this is the main area people need to come to have their complaints seriously addressed. Even when she does address problems, the people working over the phone don't seem to know about many of them, which is another systemic problem in Tivo's communication structure.

Every large organization has serious problems when communication within that organization breaks down. It's up to management to facilitate the flow of communication between departments and employees, identify problems that exist and restructure and reorganize as necessary.

Does anybody think my suggestion for a central database for known issues that all customer support employees can consult is a good (if not obvious) one? As someone pointed out on a thread here, why isn't there a change log anywhere except here on Tivo Community that informs users when and what bugs have been fixed? This is standard practice for every piece of software and app I own. Why isn't there an indicator of server status on Tivo's website? I found a website posted by someone that actually does this. Why does Tivo rely on users to do this and come up with their own solutions (i.e. PyTivo and other software) and support instead of doing it themselves the way most companies would? The only conclusion I can logically arrive at is mismanagement, hence the open letter.
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:39 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by BiloxiGeek View Post
Been a TiVo user since 2001, I can't recall an outage like the recent one. So in 12 years they have one outage at the mothership and it creates mass-hysteria around here? Seems like a gross overreaction to me.
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Couldn't agree more. Since 2000 here.
To be fair, TiVo hasn't used real-time services in products dating back to 2000 / 2001. Referencing dates like those are disingenuous. You would never be aware of a 18 hour hiccup back then.

Note, Tivo has a job postings right now for a Service Architect. Two key criteria; reliable and fault-tolerance. We have no idea their cloud service architecture, but after the experience in the past 3 months with C133, I would say they are neither reliable nor fault-tolerant.

Hopefully this posting will eventually lead to a more robust back-end, but my feeling is these bumps in the road are just the beginning. Having deployed JAX-WS on a large solution, its possible we may see scalability issues as more subscribers activate their brand-new Roamios.
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