TiVo customers have a few different choices when paying for their service plans. The one that’s gamble of sorts is the “lifetime” plan, which includes service for the entire life of your device and currently costs $399. Lifetime service is technically transferable when a TiVo is replaced under warranty, but Nate discovered a new feature: a new $150 fee to transfer service from the original DVR to the replacement.
Just got off the phone with the Tivo customer support, where I was informed of an unfortunate new charge your readers might be interested in. According to the customer service rep, starting in April 2009 there is now a $150 fee to transfer “lifetime” service from one unit to another during a repair, regardless of whether the unit is under warranty or not, which is certainly a change in terms from when the lifetime service was sold. Unfortunately, the transfer fee makes any repairs not cost effective, since you could rent a DVR from your cable provider for many, many years, during which your Tivo would probably die again, necessitating another $150 transfer fee.
I found myself in this boat this morning, when my Tivo series3 died. Cost to fix and transfer lifetime service: $349. No thanks. Neither the Tivo customer service department nor the account cancellation department, who were both very nice, had the ability to rescind the lifetime transfer fee, which would cost tivo nothing. In response, I have cancelled the one tivo I still had on a month to month plan.
In order to make financial sense, the DVR needs to last
four three and a half years after the customer purchases a lifetime service plan, assuming that the user purchases a cheaper 3-year plan instead of lifetime service. The $150 transfer fee means that a lifetime plan is now an even poorer investment.