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Old 03-08-2014, 07:45 AM   #1
bengalfreak
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Explain Why Lifetime Service isn't a hugely bad idea

I've been trying to understand why anyone would purchase Lifetime service of a Tivo Roamio (or for that matter any model Tivo) DVR. According to my calculations, it would take roughly 33 months to break even on the $500 cost of the Lifetime service considering that the monthly service fee is $14.95. From what I understand the Lifetime service is only good for the life of the individual machine. The warranty on a Tivo Roamio is one year. So what happens if your Tivo dies at 13 months? Are you just SOL? If so, it seems that you are taking a risk that the machine even last 33 months. It does not seem like a good deal to me. But maybe I'm missing something?
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Old 03-08-2014, 07:51 AM   #2
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Several things I see differently,

The resale value of a used TiVo w/lifetime is increased by one or two hundred dollars

Modern electronics are highly reliable, the exposure to possibility of failure is negligible

If a failure does occur on either of my Roamio it is likely to be a hard drive, the retail WD 3 TB drive I dropped into mine has a 3 year warranty

Also, I assign high value to getting rid of another monthly bill
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Old 03-08-2014, 08:14 AM   #3
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The one and only reason NOT to get lifetime, is if you are type of person that likes to upgrade every time a new unit is introduced.

(IMO)

If you plan on keeping the Tivo until it dies, it doesn't make sense to pay monthly. After 33 months (by your calculations), you're just giving your money away to TiVo.


If your Tivo dies after the warranty, you fix it (in most cases). There is plenty of information and people here on this forum that will help you through it, if needed. Or you can exchange it through TiVo for a fee.
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Old 03-08-2014, 08:15 AM   #4
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I had a TivoHD for over 8 years. I paid $12.95/month for it. Once I realized I paid $1243.20 I knew for my Roamio's I would go Lifetime.

First, I used the PLSR code to the lifetime down to $399. That brings the break even point to just over 26 months.

Then I purchased the 3 year Tivo Warranty for $40. You could look at this as making the total investment $439 in which case that would bump up the breakeven point to almost 30 months. However, for me....we just had the family skip a meal out that week and that's easily a $40 savings applied to the warranty.

Once the warranty is applied.....then you can rest assured that your $399 for Lifetime won't ever go to waste since it would be paid off within 36 months (the 3 year warranty time).

FYI the Tivo warranty is a one and done.....meaning if you use it, you'll get a replacement box and they will transfer the lifetime to that, but then that box won't have a warranty. According to Tivo people I talked to, they claimed you can buy another warranty on the replacement box, but this isn't written anywhere so you'd have to take it with a grain of salt. I made MANY calls and talked to a lot of people to try to get a straight answer on it.

Lastly, by far the most likely piece to die on the Roamio is the hard drive, and now they make it so much easier to put in a new one, that if it dies, even under warranty, you'd likely be better off just putting in a new drive yourself.

I hate the cable co. offerings. I love my Tivos. I have no plan to leave, so I know that if I went monthly.....I'd end up paying thousands again.

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Old 03-08-2014, 08:39 AM   #5
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I have had TiVos almost since the beginning, and all have had Lifetime. Some of those subscriptions were transferred to new boxes (a rare process these days), and when I eventually sold the others, I received a nice price increment for the Lifetime. When I looked at the price structure, I could not understand why anyone would get a TiVo and not have a Lifetime Subscription. One of us slept through Econ 101, I guess.
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Old 03-08-2014, 08:44 AM   #6
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I've owned TiVo's since the beginning and didn't get lifetimes until my Roamio and Mini. I wish I had previously (but, probably didn't have the money back then early on to buy lifetimes on my S1 and S2).
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Old 03-08-2014, 08:56 AM   #7
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I am pretty happy with how Lifetime turned out for us and purchased it again for a 3rd time on our Roamio.

9/2000 to 11/2006 - $199 x 2
11/2006 to 12/2013 - $199 x 2 (special offer to transfer the S1 lifetimes to S3's for a fee)
12/2013 to ? - $399 x 1
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Old 03-08-2014, 08:59 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by bengalfreak View Post
I've been trying to understand why anyone would purchase Lifetime service of a Tivo Roamio (or for that matter any model Tivo) DVR. According to my calculations, it would take roughly 33 months to break even on the $500 cost of the Lifetime service considering that the monthly service fee is $14.95. From what I understand the Lifetime service is only good for the life of the individual machine. The warranty on a Tivo Roamio is one year. So what happens if your Tivo dies at 13 months? Are you just SOL? If so, it seems that you are taking a risk that the machine even last 33 months. It does not seem like a good deal to me. But maybe I'm missing something?
Good question. However, you are comparing the length of warranty to expected life. There is no correlation to either, since the warranty is based on the exposure the manufacturer is willing to take to repair/replace their product. For example, in the 1960's, automobile manufacturers would only give you a 90 day/3,000 mile warranty on a new car. Most cars lasted 80,000 to 100,000 miles back then.

That being said, I have had my original Series 1 with 2001 technology some 12 years and it is still operational although I do not use it. Its telephone modem failed many years ago and I was able to install an ethernet card that was being offered back then by one of the vendors who advertise on this site. My Series 2 units are almost 9 & 10 years old. The Series 3 I just sold for $250 was 4-1/2 years old. I have had to replace the hard drives in all of those units each for less than $100. I never paid more than $400 for Lifetime service so if you do the math the break-even was usually 2 to 2-1/2 years for each unit and I was able to sell an almost 5 year old unit for $250.

In summary, yes, as the TiVo units get older their hard drives will fail and need to be replaced, but if you protect them with a good surge protector they should last for a longer period of time than the break-even point for lifetime subscription service vs. monthly service. Today's electronic products are highly reliable and most failures occur early in their life. If the TiVo units were experiencing high failure rates after the one year warranty period, then I would expect that this Forum would have many postings about the failures. I now have no monthly payments for three inservice TiVo units, two of which have the equivalent of free monthly service going forward (they are years passed the break-even period). That is one thing you will never receive from a cable provider's DVR, i.e. free service.
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Old 03-08-2014, 09:03 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by bengalfreak View Post
I've been trying to understand why anyone would purchase Lifetime service of a Tivo Roamio (or for that matter any model Tivo) DVR. According to my calculations, it would take roughly 33 months to break even on the $500 cost of the Lifetime service considering that the monthly service fee is $14.95. From what I understand the Lifetime service is only good for the life of the individual machine. The warranty on a Tivo Roamio is one year. So what happens if your Tivo dies at 13 months? Are you just SOL? If so, it seems that you are taking a risk that the machine even last 33 months. It does not seem like a good deal to me. But maybe I'm missing something?
First Lifetime doesn't really have to cost $500. There is a discount code (PLSR) that drops it to $400. So break even in around 27 months.

I have purchased lifetime on most of my TiVos and I was financially better off in all cases (determination on Roamio pending) but I did go monthly at $6.95 on one and guess what even at that rate it would have been cheaper to have purchase lifetime. And that doesn't count any additional value my TiVos have because they have lifetime.

Of course you are right if a TiVo with lifetime dies outside of it's warranty and you can not fix it you may loose out if it isn't 27 months old, you can buy an extended warranty that even if you figure in it's costs will provide a break even point at around 30 months. In any event everything you buy will dye someday and most likely outside of the things warranty that just the way it works.
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Old 03-08-2014, 09:22 AM   #10
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I've had 3 TiVo's, 4 if you count the Mini just added. The first one, a Series 1 bought in 1998 or 99, lifetime cost me $200, and I used that till last September when I purchased a Roamio Plus. $200 divided by 14 years, if I do the math right, equals about $1.20 a month. Really worthwhile if you ask me. But it doesn't end there. In my case that lifetime continues working for me, as I transferred it to my Roamio, so that $200 lifetime is still amortizing to even lower per month values. Probably the best deal I've ever made purchasing electronics. I had owned a Series 3 (The first HD model with the OLED) for which I didn't purchase lifetime, but because of the prior lifetime service that was still running, I paid a monthly fee of about $7 or $8. Considering I ran that unit for about 8 years, I would have been better off buying a monthly. And last but not least, TiVo was nice enough to give me lifetime on the that same S3 for $100 last year, when I mentioned to them that I'd like to use it as an OTA backup box in the case cable died. I also purchased lifetime for the Mini. Personally, for me, I didn't think of it as buying a lifetime subscription, I just thought of it as paying $250 for a box that let me eliminate cable charges for a second outlet and saved me having to buy another DVR for my office/guest bedroom, along with all the convenience of one central playlist, etc.
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Old 03-08-2014, 09:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by bengalfreak View Post
I've been trying to understand why anyone would purchase Lifetime service of a Tivo Roamio (or for that matter any model Tivo) DVR. According to my calculations, it would take roughly 33 months to break even on the $500 cost of the Lifetime service considering that the monthly service fee is $14.95. From what I understand the Lifetime service is only good for the life of the individual machine. The warranty on a Tivo Roamio is one year. So what happens if your Tivo dies at 13 months? Are you just SOL? If so, it seems that you are taking a risk that the machine even last 33 months. It does not seem like a good deal to me. But maybe I'm missing something?
I have bought three used Tivo's w/lifetime in the last 2 years. My Series 2 is from 2003, my Series 3 HD is from 2010 and my Premiere is from 2011 (these are the original lifetime activation dates). They last a lot longer than the break even point. You can always get the extended warranty if you're worried about it.
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Old 03-08-2014, 10:08 AM   #12
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How about: Because I hate fooling with yet another monthly payment :-).

My lifetime premier is several years old now, and I'm still using it as a cheesy streaming client from my lifetime roamio which I certainly hope will last as long as the premier.
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Old 03-08-2014, 10:22 AM   #13
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The lifetime option seemed like a no brainer to me. It certainly was a good deal on my S1 and TiVoHD. I got 7 years of good use from the S1, the TiVoHD is still being used 6 years later. Roamio Pro, one month and counting.

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Old 03-08-2014, 10:43 AM   #14
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Lifetime is a good deal if you keep your hardware in service for a while:

My personal history with TiVo lifetime service:
  • Philips S1 bought in 2000 and used for seven years (hardware still works)
  • Philips S1 DirecTiVo bought in 2002 and used for twelve years (hardware still works)
  • TiVo S2 bought as a gift in 2004 and still in use
  • TiVo HD bought in 2007 and still in use
  • TiVo Premier bought as a gift in 2012 and still in use
  • TiVo Roamio Pro bought in 2013 and still in use

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Old 03-08-2014, 10:53 AM   #15
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All valid points. I guess another problem I have with it, is that it locks you into the cable Tv company. Once you invest in a lifetime Tivo subscription, you are kind of locked into getting your television from the cable company and not free to move to a cheaper supplier. Which is, i guess, an entirely different argument.
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:18 AM   #16
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Using Tivo Roamio and mini setup w/ lifetime I save about $60 per month on my comcast bill. It will pay for itself completely in under 2 years. After that it's pure savings in my pocket with a far superior TIVO experience. The Boxes also hold a value that can be recovered if I move to an area where the tiro will not work (unlikely as no plans to sell the house and move anytime soon).
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:24 AM   #17
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I'm on my 3rd lifetime TiVo. All 3 have passed the break-even point. I've had no failures. I have upgraded the drives in all 3 but that was for added capacity, not due to failure. If I only counted on a device lasting as long as it's warranty, there are a lot of things I just would not buy. I'd even have to think hard about cars. Even if a TiVo did fail before the break-even point, they are repairable.
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:26 AM   #18
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I guess another problem I have with it, is that it locks you into the cable Tv company. Once you invest in a lifetime Tivo subscription, you are kind of locked into getting your television from the cable company and not free to move to a cheaper supplier. Which is, i guess, an entirely different argument.
Unless you get an OTA TiVo which all of mine are.
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:39 AM   #19
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All valid points. I guess another problem I have with it, is that it locks you into the cable Tv company. Once you invest in a lifetime Tivo subscription, you are kind of locked into getting your television from the cable company and not free to move to a cheaper supplier. Which is, i guess, an entirely different argument.
Even if you are the kind of person that switches back and forth between cable, fios/uverse, and satellite to get the intro deals, it is probably still better to get lifetime. If you switch to satellite to get an intro deal, eventually that intro deal will expire and you'll have to switch back to cable to get another intro deal. And when you do, you can still use the Roamio that you have sitting in your closet with lifetime. Conversely, you could sell the Roamio w/lifetime on e-bay when you switch to satellite and recoup much of your initial investment.

Your question also assumes that everyone has a choice. Many people, like me, only have 1 real choice (the cable company) for paid TV service. I'm not in a FIOS area and U-verse is crapola. Satellite won't work for us either for several reasons. We have lots of tall trees around our house and can't get a signal over them. Even if we could, the bundling of TV with broadband internet means that it would be as much or more expensive to split it up and get TV from satellite and broadband internet from the cable company.
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Old 03-08-2014, 02:02 PM   #20
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I've been recording TV since the original Betamax. When Tivo first came out, I rejected it because of the monthly or lifetime subscription cost. Lifetime didn't mean a lot because of an unknown life expectancy of the unit and technological upgrades. I ended up buying two Panasonic hard drive recorders that had free downloadable guides (TV Guide)for programming. Until Comcast went digital, I saved enough money on subscriptions to pay for my xl4 and Roamio. The way I look at it is the Tivo subscription I about the same as Comcast DVR monthly cost which the Tivo replaced. I still have issues with paying a lifetime cost for something that may break or become semi obsolete. The Tivo monthly subscription represents a small percentage of what I am paying Comcast.

If you want something with a lot of tuners and a lot of storage, Tivo has a monopoly.

What I would like to see is Comcast unbundle the programming cost from the DVR rental cost so you could buy a good recorder and use Comcast for the programming with a minimal monthly cost. I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to happen.
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Old 03-08-2014, 03:16 PM   #21
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I have 2 S2s that are active since 2002 and 2005. They are still working perfectly so the lifetimes of those machines have exceeded expectations.
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Old 03-08-2014, 10:25 PM   #22
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If you buy a new Roamio with a monthly subscription, then you still have a 12 month commitment at $14.99 per month. So you still have to pay $179.88 for service. It's easy to get a promotion code to get lifetime service for $400. So lifetime service really only costs $220.12 extra and you won't have a monthly bill for Tivo anymore. It doesn't make sense to pay for monthly Tivo service on a Roamio.
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Old 03-08-2014, 10:39 PM   #23
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I had a TivoHD for over 8 years. I paid $12.95/month for it. Once I realized I paid $1243.20 I knew for my Roamio's I would go Lifetime.
Right here's the #1 reason. Sure, it takes a while to reach the 'break even' point. But once you cross that point, you're throwing money away, and feel like an idiot every month.

You have to balance the "will I use it that long?" against "how much money will I throw away if I do use it longer than that?" Once you realize that if you like it, it could cost you 3x as much to keep it if you don't do lifetime, the choice becomes easier to swallow.
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Old 03-09-2014, 08:59 AM   #24
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What I don't get is the people who balk at the cost of lifetime service.
If TiVo sold the DVR fully functional (like any other piece of electronics such as a Blu-ray player), how much do you think they would charge?

I'd bet it would be in the $600 range, so either way, you're going to be paying that much whether you pay for it all at once or through monthly payments.
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:36 AM   #25
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What I don't get is the people who balk at the cost of lifetime service.
If TiVo sold the DVR fully functional (like any other piece of electronics such as a Blu-ray player), how much do you think they would charge?

I'd bet it would be in the $600 range, so either way, you're going to be paying that much whether you pay for it all at once or through monthly payments.
I have consistently held that when ever someone complains about having to pay for service they are really just complaining that TiVo's cost to much.

The reality is the market for stand alone DVRs is too small for economics of scale to have worked to reduce prices and/or increase the feature set. If the market for stand alone DVRs was 10s of millions per year and there were several companies making them then we would be seeing more innovative DVRs and/or lower price points, but with the market this small and only one real player it isn't going to happen. In my opinion the only way the market can really grow is if the FCC grows a pare and replaces cable card with a software based decryption solution and requires all pay TV providers (Satellite, Cable, IP, etc.) to work with it.
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:53 AM   #26
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All valid points. I guess another problem I have with it, is that it locks you into the cable Tv company. Once you invest in a lifetime Tivo subscription, you are kind of locked into getting your television from the cable company and not free to move to a cheaper supplier.
No, it doesn't - you are completely ignoring the resale value of a lifetimed Tivo, which essentially covers the cost of service (assuming you get it for $400).
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Old 03-09-2014, 02:05 PM   #27
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We haven't upgraded to a Premiere or a Roamio yet, but the lifetime service easily paid for itself on the original 2 S1's that we purchased (7 years and still working when we upgraded) and now 7 years and still going on the 2 S3 OLED's that were the replacements.

However, if you would prefer to stick with monthly, I won't argue since that will probably mean more money for TiVo in the long run.

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Old 03-09-2014, 02:10 PM   #28
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I purchased my first TiVo in 2000 and now in 2014, I have three TiVos running, all with lifetime and I have purchased four total lifetime service contracts. I have never paid a penny of monthly TiVo fees, I can't tell you how far ahead I am and that is without considering all three still have resale value and none of the three would have any value without lifetime. Two of the four lifetime purchases were with used TiVos.

Monthly fees for anybody that wants to connect a TiVo and use it for years would be very foolish, like walking outside once a month and throwing $10 up into the air and watching it blow away.
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Old 03-09-2014, 06:45 PM   #29
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FYI the Tivo warranty is a one and done.....meaning if you use it, you'll get a replacement box and they will transfer the lifetime to that, but then that box won't have a warranty. According to Tivo people I talked to, they claimed you can buy another warranty on the replacement box, but this isn't written anywhere so you'd have to take it with a grain of salt. I made MANY calls and talked to a lot of people to try to get a straight answer on it.
I bought a Roamio Pro 8-25-13, got extended warranty. Had to replace unit last month, got extended warranty on replacement unit, good until 2-2-17
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Old 03-09-2014, 07:31 PM   #30
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I've purchased 5 Tivos (plus 4 Minis) and bought lifetime on all of them. There is some risk of getting "burned" on a premature failure - but to flip that around, if you don't get lifetime then you're getting "burned" if it doesn't fail. My S1 (which I used for ~10 years then sold for $100) would have been vastly more expensive without lifetime.

As others have said, the HD is the most likely part to fail (and it did fail on my S1), but you can replace it yourself without too much trouble.
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