Motorola DVR Possessed By Evil

Laura’s DVR is possessed. After months of living with a flickering, psychotic DVR and getting the usual Comcast run around, Laura patiently waits for her 5th replacement box. In the meantime she’s suffering through life with a possessed DVR.

For example, just today:

“The DVR started out by simply not responding to any command to change channels, etc. Suddenly, it switched to channel 3, then 4, then 5, 6, 7, and so on. I managed to pause it for a second, but then it just jumped to channel 233 and stayed there, pulsing on that channel while the DVR box flashed the numbers. This story really isn’t terribly interesting on its own, but the channel it stopped on was a religious channel with a priest featured prominently on the screen.”

As you can see in the video the DVR stopped at channel 233. And, as everyone knows, 233 is 34.98498498498498% of the beast.

Laura’s problems are reportedly stemming from her Motorola DCT3412 DVR, and not from Comcast (like every other problem known to man.) Motorola has not yet issued a much-needed firmware update, and until they do, people like Laura will have to suffer with DVRs that randomly make them watch religious television.

The horror! Read Laura’s email inside:

Laura writes:

    “Hi- I’m am yet another angry Comcast customer. This is my ugly story (so far). Since upgrading my Comcast service from basic to digital/HD in August, I have experienced nothing but problems with both the television picture and the storage capacity of the DVR. I recently sent a letter of dissatisfaction to Comcast. Most of the text of that letter follows:

    ——– On August 15, 2006, I was upgraded from Comcast’s basic cable service to the digital/HD service. After years of being satisfied with basic service, I opted to upgrade to take full advantage of my HD-ready television as well as get the dual-tuner DVR. I also decided to switch from Qwest’s phone service to Comcast’s service. However, since that date, I have had nothing but trouble with the DVR, experienced constant picture problems, and have been mired in endless hours of phone calls, service calls, and internet research, with no solution yet in sight. A breakdown of my experiences to date:

    Immediately after installation, my television picture started intermittently stuttering/freeze-framing. The technician sent out to address this was not at all helpful, didn’t understand the problem, and told me it was likely the hot afternoon weather causing disruptions. He didn’t do anything else to attempt to correct the stuttering.

    When the stuttering did not disappear, another technician came out. He was a bit more knowledgeable, replaced and tightened some wires, and checked my house’s tech box. He thought that would fix the issue, but it resumed the stuttering after he left. On top of that, the DVR now indicated it was full after just a few hours of recording. The technician had told me to call him back that afternoon if the problem continued and he came back out, witnessed the stuttering, and fiddled with some other things. No luck.

    I called Comcast back. The CSR explained that I likely received a bad box and that she would send someone out with a new one. When the technician arrived with the new box, I asked him why the box would think it was full. He had no idea, telling me that he knew nothing about the DVR. Several hours later that day, I tried to program this new DVR, but it only gave me “record to VCR” options. I called Comcast back again. The same technician came back out with yet another box. It appeared to record, but the stuttering was still there.

    I went online and spent hours over several days poring over various websites and message boards. I discovered that many other people had similar issues and that it was actually a problem native to all Motorola DVRs; until the firmware update is developed and sent by Motorola, this problem might continue.

    I called Comcast yet again to inquire about this firmware update. I explained that I was on my third DVR with no acceptable fix. I demanded someone more capable be sent out and wanted a better explanation about the DVR problems. This time, a much more experienced technician came and he replaced more wires, added a “Comcast-friendly” splitter to my tech box, and replaced a bad connector previously unseen by the other three technicians. He also had me reset the DVR, which caused me to lose the programs I was planning to save. I pressed him for more information about the firmware issues and he confirmed that it is a problem Motorola and Comcast were aware of and that Motorola was working on a fix. In the meantime, because of contractual obligations, there was nothing Comcast could do about this issue with Motorola.

    That same evening, I returned home from class to find that the newest DVR only recorded one hour of programs before it thought it was full.

    Livid, I called Comcast again the next morning and was told the earliest I could get another box would be the next day. Or I could pick one up myself. I told the CSR that, given my issues, this was unacceptable and I ended up having to call the last technician I had dealt with on his cell phone. He immediately returned with a fourth box. He also replaced a line in the cable box in my backyard and told me to call him with any other issues. In fact, he called me back a few days later to follow up with me.

    The stuttering continued. On October 11, the DVR indicated it was full again after 4.5 hours of SD recording. I was able to get it to record again, but it is obviously unreliable.

    To summarize, I am now on my fourth DVR in two months, with no resolution to either the picture stuttering or DVR space issues. I was initially told that some of the boxes are just bad, but had a hard time believing that I am unlucky enough to get only bad boxes. Then after doing my own research (and realizing that bad boxes aren’t necessarily the issue) and confronting Comcast, I was told that the firmware update from Motorola is imminent, but I haven’t heard anything further about its arrival other than “sometime in October.”

    However, I have yet to have it confirmed that this is indeed the problem I am having and am very doubtful this update will fix both issues. In the meantime, my picture still stutters, often to a degree where it is difficult to watch; pausing and restarting usually helps, but it is absolutely ridiculous I should have to do this. And now the television is losing sound intermittently in addition to the stuttering. Finally, the DVR space issues are maddening; I record (and, more importantly, save) many hours of shows and I expect to have a reliable recording device. I have had TiVo service for quite some time now and have never once had any problem with it.

    I upgraded to your box, partly because I had to for digital/HD compatibility issues, but also to enjoy the dual-tuner features at a reasonable price. I should not have to be subjected to missing programs and the anxiety that ensues. It is unacceptable that Comcast knows about ongoing issues with their Motorola DVRs and still continues to give them to customers. Perhaps the most troubling aspect is the runaround and bad service I have received from Comcast. Most of the technicians sent out were useless and could not help me or offer any further explanations about my problems. Or they simply did not know their products. The CSRs have largely been less than helpful; they were friendly, but it wasn’t until two technicians came out that it was suggested my problem could be attributed to a bad box (although as I mention, it really appears to be a software issue, which was never brought to my attention at all).

    The technician I have been dealing with most recently has actually been fantastic; he has followed up with me, was upfront about the firmware issues and the implications, and is willing to take my calls. He has apologized on behalf of the company, understanding that I am a very dissatisfied customer. Frankly, he is embarrassed for the company. I have already done all of the research into competitive satellite services and am close to canceling service with Comcast–it has mostly been the technician’s reassurances that a fix was on the way that I haven’t already switched to another carrier. However, my patience is more than running thin and I think I have put up with much more than is necessary.

    I am highly disappointed in the quality of your products and your technical support and unfortunately know that other customers have experienced similar issues. I appreciate a response to this matter. Unless this situation is remedied to my satisfaction very soon, I will be canceling your service and encouraging others to follow suit. But because of the many hours I have already invested in this matter, I am honestly hoping it doesn’t come to that. Nevertheless, I believe that some sort of compensation is reasonable to make up for the troubles I have encountered and the energy I have expended in finding a satisfactory solution.

    ——– It all gets better… As I was preparing the letter to Comcast two weeks ago, I read a timely column from Joanne Ostrow, the TV critic for “The Denver Post,” touting the wonders of the Comcast DVR. She had just switched from TiVo to the Comcast DVR and was very happy. This is her original column:

    Obviously, I felt compelled to email Ms. Ostrow in response to her column. I also attached a copy of my letter to Comcast. Then last Tuesday, there was a followup column in the paper, full of readers’ comments to Ms. Ostrow’s previous column.
    I was quoted several times. Here is that article: Just today, I experienced a truly bizarre DVR issue that I hadn’t seen happen previously. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but I managed to capture a portion of it on my digital camera’s video. The DVR started out by simply not responding to any command to change channels, etc. It’s done that before, and while it’s annoying, it’s not usually too upsetting and resolves quickly. However, this time, it wouldn’t do anything for several minutes. Suddenly, it switched to channel 3, then 4, then 5, 6, 7, and so on. I managed to pause it for a second, but then it just jumped to channel 233 and stayed there, pulsing on that channel while the DVR box flashed the numbers. This story really isn’t terribly interesting on its own, but the channel it stopped on was a religious channel with a priest featured prominently on the screen. It was reminiscent of “The Exorcist” or similar. Hilarious. I uploaded this snippet to YouTube. It can be viewed here:

    So this is my ongoing saga. I haven’t yet received a response from Comcast and will be interested to see if they do respond. Thanks to the article in the “Denver Post,” I may be making a name for myself in Comcast dissatisfaction circles here in Denver. In addition, I have also been blogging my experiences in my personal LiveJournal. Many of my friends considering Comcast’s DVR or service have opted wisely to go with TiVo or other cable or satellite carriers after reading about my continuing troubles. I am hoping I now have Comcast by the balls. We’ll see.