eBay, TiVo, and Lifetime, Oh My

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by crabbon, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. crabbon

    crabbon New Member

    Jan 9, 2003


    Here is a warning to all to NOT buy any TiVo with Lifetime Service on eBay.

    Yes, do NOT buy any. This coming from someone who has bought several of them, and used them as gifts.


    Well, My S3 just told me I no longer had Lifetime. Yet, I bought the S3 when it first came out, and had an old S1 that I purchased from eBay way back when (probably about 2002 or so) and paid the "transfer" fee to TiVo to transfer the Lifetime from the S1 to my S3. All was well for about 15 months.

    Now, Jan 2008, My S3 says that Lifetime is no longer on this unit. I called TiVo, and the CSR told me that they did an audit and found about 1,000 TiVo's that were illegally using the Lifetime. My old S1 was one of them, thus removing the Lifetime from the S3, making it void.

    I mentioned that that was 6 years ago. I was told to go to eBay and request a refund, or something like that.

    The bottom line is that the CSR said that Tivo does not validate the Lifetime during transferring, and that when they find out they remove lifetime from that box. If you find out past 30 days from time of purchase, eBay will do little to help you.

    Unless someone can show me the error of my logic, then one should never purchase a TiVo from a third party (eBay, Craig's list, garage sale) that you do not know personally.

    comments from anyone, please?
  2. shane_pcs

    shane_pcs New Member

    Jan 2, 2008
    Frisco, TX
    Wow that sucks. I have always been weary of the lifetime units on ebay and craigslist anyways. When I saw the title I assumed that someone had transfered the lifetime subscription to a S3 out from under you after they sold you the unit.
  3. flatcurve

    flatcurve New Member

    Sep 27, 2007
    Yeah I just wouldn't trust ebay for a purchase like this. It's too easy for the seller to cut and run like that.
  4. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    Jan 2, 2004
    since they yanked the lifetime from the S3 you would think TiVo could be nice and refund the 199$ transfer fee or prorate it somehow and give some of it back.
    maybe you could try a higher level CSR and have them apply the 199$ towards the purchase of a 399$ lifetime for the S3, just as a way to be helpful to you
  5. Adam1115

    Adam1115 Well-Known Member TCF Club

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver ish


    You need to escalate this....

    How was the Series1 illegally using lifetime for 6 years? That makes no sense.

    And they at least owe you $199.
  6. WitsEnd

    WitsEnd New Member

    Nov 21, 2006
    I would positively be on the phone with a higher-level CSR over this. It's unfortunate, but I guess somewhat understandable--human nature being what it is--that some CSR's that are better than others.

    Here's hoping you get a really good one who makes things at least somewhat right for you.
  7. crabbon

    crabbon New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    I didn't finish the story, because I wanted to see the "group" reactions.

    To finish the story, I spoke with the manager on duty. He said the same thing. We got into a soft "shouting match" so to speak. I was irate. I was told that my recourse would be to complain to eBay. I was like, "what are you smoking"? Like eBay would care about a transaction from 6 years ago.

    But, I wanted to warn some of you, because I have purchased several TiVo's with lifetime off of eBay as gifts for people. Now, I'm afraid that some of those gifts may stop giving.

    As a matter of fact, today I rec'd a TiVo via UPS. Bought it before this fiasco.

    (edit: I removed the link and ebay auction number, as I do not believe that this guy is one of those crooks, and do not want negative publicity going his way for no good reason. Note: if he was bad, the auction # would go back up.)

    The problem is, how do I know if it's legit.

    And, I would have bought directly from Tivo using the HD Gift, but I believe it expired. I had planned on buying it prior to expiration, but caught some cold/flu thing, and finally was on my feet 1/8/08.

    Does anybody remember TiVo stating that lifetime stays with the box, and that you can always sell your tivo to a third party. Well, it looks like if I ever choose to sell my tivo, it's going to me that much harder.

    Also, does anybody else think that tivo should be able to "validate" lifetime boxes. I think 6 years is way too late to come back and say to complain to ebay.

    Oh, back to the story. In the end, because I paid a fee for lifetime on the S3, the CSR relunctantly said that if I would "be quiet" he would put lifetime back on in and it'll show in 14 days. I have his badge # (hope it's not fake), and I really hope I don't have to go through with this again. And even if they call again, and disable, what recourse would I have.

    For that matter, could you imagine claiming to any of you with lifetime that it's not legit. Could you provide the "sales receipt" to show that you actually purchased it from Tivo directly? I don't know about you, but I'm guessing some of you do not keep these things for years on end. Maybe we should.

  8. ah30k

    ah30k Well-Known Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    There is an assumption it was not fraudulent in the first place.
    So much for being quiet! Dude, he went out of his way for you and you broke your end of the deal.
  9. restart88

    restart88 New Member

    Mar 9, 2002
    I think this troubles me more about Tivo than eBay. After 6 years they claim your lifetime was fraud? :eek:

    Forget what they can do legally that's just plain wrong!

    I am showing a Tivo on my account that was returned within 30 days. According to a CSR I spoke to it still shows in their system as a unit I have in my possession. Who knows where it wound up! What's to stop them from coming along years from now and claim I own them unpaid money?

    One thing you can unfortunately say against Tivo is it's poor record keeping sometimes.
  10. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Only Series 1 could have Lifetime Service that not legal because in the beginning (of TiVo) some people on the web were selling multiple Series 1s with the same TSN. They would purchase a Series 1, put lifetime service on that Series 1 TiVo, then clone other Series 1s with the same TSN and sell them in the open market as Lifetime Series 1 TiVos. TiVo had no easy system for stopping this until the Series 2, that had an access key, and some better ways of keeping people from making a clone of the TSN. For example the same TSN could not have two different access keys. You can tell a forged Series 1 if the TSN label on the back is a stick on or does not match the TSN in the System information screen. The person who sold you the Series 1 may not have known about the problem as who would have done such a careful TSN check on a working box. I don't know if this is the exact problem you have had but its the only way i can think of that Lifetime Service may not be legal on a TiVo. If you purchase a Series 3 with Lifetime Service on the TiVo and move it into your account (and the unit shows up as lifetime in your TiVo account) there is no way that this will be a forged box with Lifetime Service if the service was put on in 2006 or after. A series 3 with a Lifetime Service dated from Jan 2000 or earlier could be a problem as it may have come from a forged Series 1 transfer.
  11. mohanman

    mohanman New Member

    Dec 18, 2007
    Use your american express card. Don't leave home without it!
  12. crabbon

    crabbon New Member

    Jan 9, 2003

    That seems to be what happened to me. I somehow bought a tivo that they cloned or something. I'm not sure how it works, but what you described is what the Tivo rep described.

    But, back in 2002 I had never heard of such a thing.

    Now, fast forward to today. I buy a Tivo HD with Lifetime on it from eBay or from an ad in the classifieds or from Craig's List. Sure enough, the unit transfers to my name and it's on my account. I use it flawlessly for 6 years. Than, out of the blue tivo says they ran an audit, and found out that several units from 2008 were hacked (or whatever) and that they illegally obtained lifetime. Maybe it was an employee at tivo who was buying units and when nobody was looking, activating them without tivo receiving payment. I don't know. The point is, today there is no way of me "predicting" how tivo is being ripped off. Either way, some day in the future, be it 2 years, 4 years, who knows, I get contacted from Tivo and they tell me it is no longer valid. I tell them that I've had it for years. They say that the only way that they will activate it is if I have a receipt showing that I purchased lifetime from tivo. Being that I don't have it, I lose my lifetime subscription.

    Does that sound right to you?

    Based on what I know from the CSR, the above scenario can happen, and I'd have nothing to show them that I do have lifetime.

    Yes, there is an assumption that it's not fraudulent. My point is that if there is no way of protecting or verifying that isn't not fraudulent, then nobody can trust me when I sell it, thus preventing the marketability of the used tivo.

    What am I to do?

    ps, I am a loyal tivo user, having 1 tivo hd, 2 S3s, and 3 no longer used S1s (all still on my account). I never knew of any way to steal lifetime service, and thought it was safe to buy a system that said "lifetime" in the system information screen.
  13. c3

    c3 TiVoholic

    Sep 8, 2000
    Cloning the TSN doesn't make much sense. Each TSN can have only one registered owner, so you can purchase the $199 lifetime transfer only once, by the registered owner. Unless you're continuing the service for the S1, the S1 and all of the clones should be out of service by now.
  14. crabbon

    crabbon New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    Cloning the TSN doesn't make much sense now, but it looks to me that somebody made some illegal money selling lifetimed units without tivo getting any money. That's just wrong. And that took place back in the old days.

    But, who's to say that a similar scheme may not be happening now. And if it is, we may not know about it for years. And if that's the case, all those people who own lifetime now, without a receipt from tivo showing the purchase of the lifetime, may someday have that "removed".
  15. crabbon

    crabbon New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    Please note that the link I originally posted that had an ebay auction that I purchased, and the auction number, was removed because I do not want anybody to think this guys was one of the bad guys. I do not know that, and he has been more than willing to work with me on providing information so that I can give to tivo should they ever ask for this boxes "history".
  16. c3

    c3 TiVoholic

    Sep 8, 2000
    I don't think cloning the TSN is the whole story. That was well known in the early days. It was documented in a FAQ linked from here, and even a TiVo employee (Bullwinkle) warned us about it on this forum. It should be very easy for TiVo to detect and stop such units.

    What did you do with the S1? There may be some recent activities that triggered an investigation.
  17. OneGr8Mick

    OneGr8Mick The Reverend Mick

    Feb 22, 2007
    Kalamazoo MI
    Sometimes you can have a good turn on ebay too. I bought an HD box with a year of prepaid service. When i was addding it to my account i asked him if I could take the one year card and use it as a discount to get the MSD 399 lifetime. He then told me no need this box already has lifetime no strings attched. So i guess even though they fraudulenty said it had one year, Ill take the lifetime.
  18. bobrt6676

    bobrt6676 Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    Sounds a little fishy!! I might want to verify this with a tivo supervisor. Or maybe an audit in the future might be trouble for you!!
  19. fallingwater

    fallingwater New Member

    Dec 28, 2007
    Bellingham WA
    TiVo has the weirdest service options, which aren't really necessary, of any product I've ever used! Even when a Lifetime transfer is legitimate it takes about 2 months to show up!

    I've lost a Lifetime too, several months after it credited. Fortunately paying by PayPal backed by a credit card and dealing only with the credit card got my money back!

    But, as ah30k said, you revealed a bit too much regarding your situation. It sounds like, after all, you got treated quite decently.
  20. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2005

    As I said each Lifetime Service TiVo has a date when the Lifetime Service was started, if that date is 2006 or later then the Lifetime Service did not come from a cloned Series 1 because if it did your date would Jan 2000 or early. I do have one Series 3 with Lifetime Service that came from a xfer Series 1 and it is dated Dec 1999 (under "name your TiVo" part of the TiVo web sight), so its possible TiVo may take this away sometime in the future but i don't think TiVo will/should hurt a good customer with this stuff, they should have done this type of audit many years ago and not leave cloned TiVos out in the wild that could cause this problem for an innocent buyer.

    As to how this happens a clone Series 1 owner does the transfer..the owner of the non cloned Series 1 complained to TiVo when their service stops, TiVo determines that this is the non cloned Series 1 and cancels the Xfer from the other (cloned) Series 1. Both parties could innocent of doing anything wrong, but TiVo has not been paid for one or more of the cloned TiVos. I think this is TiVos problem to figure out what happened and how to fix it without hurting innocent buyers, there may be no way to do this if the buyer purchased the original cloned Series 1 off the Web and the people from that web sight are long gone. TiVo may just have to eat this as they did for you.

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