TiVo Sends Me Bill I Don't Owe, Cuts Off My 'Lifetime' Service

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Lee’s TiVo saga is enough to scare you off from gift cards and lifetime service subscriptions from the company. It’s a long, not easily summarized tale, but as things stand now, Lee is without service, stuck with an unwarranted $97.64 charge and has a gift card that won’t work.

Lee writes:

I am having an issue with Tivo that I was hoping that you could help out with. I have been a happy Tivo customer since late 2004. At that time I purchase my first Tivo (80 gb Series 2), with lifetime service. I used that unit off and on for 3-4 years, briefly mothballing it for DirecTV. After deciding that DirecTV had an inferior DVR, I decided to go with my local cable provider, and purchase a HD Tivo for use with cable cards….Here is where the fun begins.

As a longtime customer, Tivo offers a retention type offer, for me it was $199 for their basic HD Tivo unit (no service). I purchased this unit from their telesales department, and they were even kind enough to throw in a wireless adapter for me! The total with tax for this unit was $227.10 and was billed on 9/15/09. At the time of my order I went with a month to month service option, thinking that I would get Lifetime Service on the unit within the first month. I received the unit the next day or so, and set up a meeting with my local cable provider to get cable cards installed.

After two technicians from the local cable company could not get the unit to activate, they pointed towards a hardware issue. I contacted Tivo, who gave me two options. Option 1, send back the unit and after Tivo received it they would mail me a new unit. Option 2, Tivo would mail me a unit immediately, charge me the price of the unit, but would refund me this money when they received the faulty unit. I took Option 2, as I wanted as little downtime as possible (the local cable companies DVR is terrible). On 9/23/09 I was charge 324.74, and on 9/30/09 I was refunded 324.74 (I was charged the retail price for the replacement and refunded the same).

I received the replacement unit, which was soon successfully activated by my local cable company. Works great! Love my Tivo!

With the unit working and being pleased with the unit I activated lifetime service on 10/05/09 with a Lifetime Service gift card that I had been given. The cost of lifetime service for a current customer is $299, which with tax is around $319. This left $81 and change on my gift card, which I was told could not be sent back to me as cash, but which could be used by someone else for service. Since I was unable to utilize this credit I sold it on eBay My buyer contacted me a few days after receiving the gift card and told me Tivo informed him that he was unable to use it, but it could be refunded to the gift card holder. Embarrassed, I refunded the buyer (plus $10 for the hassle).

Not wanting to deal with the headache of conflicting information from Tivo CS, I let the $81 die and went along happily watching commercial free, tape delayed TV!

On 11/16/09 I pulled up my credit card statement two find to line items. 1 – A charge from Tivo for $324.74. 2 – A credit for 227.10. I pulled up my Tivo account online and could not find these items in my billing history.

I contacted Tivo CS on 11/17/09 in regards to these items. The customer service rep that I spoke with seemed utterly confused (as was I). I asked for this situation to be resolved (Tivo had charged me 97.64 for some unknown reason). I also inquired as to the credit that I had on the gift card (as I had them on the phone). This phone call lasted 48 minutes. I was told that I would be credited for the $100, and she would look into the gift card credit.

On 11/19/09 I woke up to find that my Tivo no longer had service (I do not know if this occurred on 11/17, 11/18, or 11/19 as I did not watch TV those days). My Tivo stated that I did not have service and this DVR had disappeared from my tivo.com account.

I contacted Tivo (11/19/09), who this time informed me that they would place a temporary activation on my account and get back to me by 11/27/09. This CS representative sounded helpful and polite, and felt that somehow accounting had gotten confused in the switch (when I had received and returned a defective unit). She assured me that all would be resolved, and would personally contact me on 11/27/09 to give me a status update. This phone call lasted 44 minutes.

No phone call on 11/27/09 (the date seemed odd since it was the day after Thanksgiving).

I contacted Tivo on 11/30/09 (seeing that I still had a temporary activation on my service). I again spoke with a polite CS rep, who commented on the lengthy notes in my account about the issue. I informed him that I did not want to wait on hold, and I knew that the issue might take some looking. He politely took down my phone number and stated that he would call me back within 30 minutes.

No phone call back from Tivo on 11/30/09.

I awake on the morning of 12/1/09 to find my Tivo not working again.

I contacted Tivo again and asked for a return call and activation of my Tivo.

I await a response from Tivo, and a reactivation of my unit.

At minimum, I would like a reactivation of my Tivo, a refund of 97.64, and a refund of $81 for the gift card.


After reading all that, I don’t feel as bad for renting my DVR from Comcast. Has anyone been treated similarly by TiVo?

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