My TiVo Experience
After receiving my latest statement from Comcast, I decided to switch back completely to TiVo.
A brief history:
I had a TiVo Series 2 many years ago and was very happy with it. When my ex-partner moved in with me, we bought a Series 3 and all was right in the world until my condo association decided to switch our building to Dish Network making our Series 3 pretty much useless unless we only wanted to watch local channels. About a year ago, my condo association switched back to Comcast. During the sign up period, they offered a decent deal on their own DVRs, and I began to rent two of them - one for the living room, one for the bedroom. The DVRs were okay - I got used to them.
Fast forward to last week when I got my latest bill from Comcast. The initial deal for the DVRs was over. I called Comcast to see if they would extend the deal and their customer service representative was so obstinate, that I decided then and there to switch back to TiVo. I had wanted to do this for a while, but after investigating the cost of cable cards, HD fees, and the high price of the TiVo itself with lifetime service, I wouldn't switch - until now.
I did a little bit of research and chose the new TiVo Roamio - I wasn't aware it was so new on the market. I also looked into the TiVo mini. This would solve the issue of the second DVR in my bedroom for a pretty good price. I am opposed to paying an "HD technology" fee to Comcast, but I'd rather pay them $10 a month than $40. I ordered the equipment with Weaknees - great customer service with lots of answers to my questions.
In anticipation of receiving the equipment on Tuesday, I stopped by my local Comcast office here in Miami to get a cable card. The office was a mess. A queue to the left, another queue to the right, a take a number system and no signage or information whatsoever. I took number 99 and waited for a while. They were calling number 10. I noticed people with equipment in the right side queue, which was slowly moving. I asked the security guard who said that queue was for equipment only. Would it hurt them to put up a sign? I stood in the queue and after about half an hour, I had a cable card in hand. Almost immediately, I received an email from Comcast with my new fees - $9.95 HD Technology fee plus $11.45 Additional Outlet fee. I figured it would work itself out when I returned their DVRs after I got my TiVo set up.
UPS delivered my equipment around 6:00 PM. I started to unbox the Roamio first. Then I removed the bulky Comcast DVR from the living room and replaced it with the much lighter and prettier Roamio. Coaxial cable - connected. HDMI cable - click. Ethernet cable - click. Power cable - no click. I plugged it in and waited. The beautiful TiVo logo was on the screen. Then I waited some more. Just a few more minutes. Thank goodness I had my iPad to keep me entertained. Still loading. I had dinner. Still waiting. After who knows how long, I was able to run through the guided setup. At some point, I went into the TiVo website and paid for the lifetime service - ouch - even with the existing customer discount. After a few more minutes, I was up and running - but no signal from Comcast. I had activated the cable card on line, but apparently someone didn't get the message. I called the Comcast cable card number and spoke to a lovely lady - probably somewhere in Asia. After going through all my authentication steps, she told me she would pair my cable card to my TiVo, but I still had to speak with another agent in another department for the rates. Cable card was paired. Still no signal. After speaking with another agent, she was able to get my signal working. Halleluiah. But where are my premium channels? HBO and Showtime weren't showing up. I'd deal with this later. I knew I had to set up my remote on my TiVo. That was easy.
It was probably around 9:30 PM when I decided to install the TiVo mini in the bedroom. It would be a long night. Out came the Comcast DVR. Wow was that cabinet hot. HDMI cable - click. Ethernet cable - click. Coaxial cable - nope - doesn't need it. Power cable - no click. Again, the lovely TiVo logo was on my bedroom TV. Hello old friend. Let the waiting begin. In the meantime, I discovered the TiVo app for my iPad. I can now watch a program I recorded on my Roamio on my iPad? How awesome. Hello Rachel Maddow - you look lovely on my iPad. After who knows how long, I was able to run through guided setup on the mini. What do you mean you can't find another DVR on the network? It's right there in the living room and connected to the same router! What the heck is a V70 error? Try again! Again I told you! I can't get out of this screen. I am sorry mini, but I have to unplug you. Hello again TiVo logo on my TV. Time to go back and watch on the iPad. Still waiting. OK .. time to read my book. After a good while, time to run the guided setup again. What do you mean you can't find a network to connect to? You just connected to it a few minutes ago. I didn't move any cables. Your lights are still flashing and you still show up on my router screen. Time to unplug you again. The mini was turning out to be a maxi headache. The plug goes back in and Mister TiVo comes back on the screen for a while. I run through guided setup again and get to the very end. The little animation runs but there is no menu and no image on the screen other than a small Mister TiVo on the upper left hand side. I wait for a few minutes and nothing changes. Time to unplug again and try again. It starts to reboot. Then - no image. Nothing. Nada. I change sources and the TV still works. I am exhausted - time for bed. I will deal with you in the morning. 4:00 AM arrives and the screen is still dark. Unplug and reboot again. Same result. What is that saying about the meaning on insanity from Albert Einstein? At least I can watch the morning news on the iPad. It's too early to get up and watch in the living room - plus I'd disrupt Kitty. 6:30 AM rolls around and I decide to go to the office. I will deal with the mini TiVo later.
I place the two ancient Comcast DVRs in a bag and stop at the Comcast service center on my way to the office. While the clerk starts up her computer for the morning, there is only one person in front of me in the equipment queue. I take a number just in case the rules changed overnight. Some people are sitting in the waiting area with their equipment in hand. Can't they read the sign about the queue for equipment only? Oh yeah, there is no sign. It took me less than ten minutes to return my DVRs and get a receipt. Yes, you need a receipt. Don't just leave the DVRs in those return boxes outside. Comcast will claim they never got their equipment back and start charging you like they started to charge me for not returning my own Motorola modem, which I bought at Wal-mart. Back in the car, I get another e-mail from Comcast. DVRs have been removed from my account. Goodbye $35.90 DVR monthly fee. They are still charging me the $11.45 additional outlet fee. Time to make another call to Comcast. When I explain to the friendly representative, who seems to be in Brazil that my condo association has a contract with them, she refers me to the business department. Another agent - another few minutes of authentication. This lovely agent can't even help me and refers me back to the residential department and places me on hold for another agent. Thank you for wasting my time. By this time, I want to speak to a supervisor. I have better things to do. The friendly agent now gives me a ticket number - apparently the golden ticket to be able to speak to a supervisor - and transfers me. I can tell the supervisor is going to get my issue resolved. She's friendly and quick. She immediately sees on her screen that my billing doesn't match my equipment. She does some investigating and removes the codes from my account. She also claims that I won't have to pay the $9.95 HD technology fee. I love this woman. She also offers to investigate and remove the Motorola modem from my account. Total time on the phone with Comcast today - 87 minutes. Another email comes in from Comcast. Now I have a credit! It's a good day.
After work, I return home to see that all my HBO and Showtime channels are showing up on the Roamio. Yay. The TV with the mini however is still a dark screen. Time to unplug you and try again. This time, it works. I have live video on my bedroom TV and it's quick. There is no lag time when changing channels. Wow. I am impressed. Then, I am surprised to see the Xfinity On Demand app logo on the menu. Even the lovely Comcast supervisor didn't know that was possible. That evening, Roamio starts to automatically record programs for me to watch - six channels at a time! I am amazed. Why are you recording Fox News? Time to play with the thumbs up and thumbs down feature.