Time Warner Cable Says It's Deprogramming My DVR From Afar

Seth gets the pleasure of rescheduling all his DVR settings thanks to an update Time Warner Cable is rolling out.

He writes:

I just received the attached letter from Time Warner Cable informing me that, due to some fantastic new programming guide updates they’re rolling out, they’ll be deleting all of my settings, including all my DVR scheduled recordings. Meaning if I have any one-time recordings scheduled or series scheduled to be recorded repeatedly (over a dozen), I’ll need to write them all down so that I can go back and reprogram them after TWC is finished improving my life. I believe this is what they’re talking about when they refer to “The Power of You.”

Hopefully Seth will be able to look at this as a new beginning rather than a needless chore assigned to him by a clumsy cable provider.


Edit Your Comment

  1. atomoverride says:

    thats why I have time warner cable with my tivo. they cant force anything to change on my tivo

  2. apple420 says:

    At least they are giving you a warning. That’s better than nothing.

    • RevancheRM says:

      Definitely not ‘slam the OP’ post, but I agree with you here. This is FAR more than I expected from TW (though not at all far beyond what we /should/ expect).

  3. GearheadGeek says:

    What’s happening is that they’re switching from the Scientific Atlanta or Motorola guides that come with their system to an in-house developed guide. The advantages for Time Warner are that they’ll have a consistent guide across the different hardware platforms, and won’t have to license the software from the vendor. If they’ve written it well, it should be a good thing. I’ve seen the system in beta and it’s not bad, but it’s quite different from the Scientific Atlanta guide I’m used to.

    Though it’s annoying to redo your programming (shows to record, and favorite channels) it’s part of the price we pay for having the cable company take the risk for dead hardware. Either buy a Tivo and pay out of your pocket when it has hardware problems, or lease from the cable company and deal with their policies like this, but get to swap out a dead DVR at their office.

    • shoelace414 says:

      Tey did the same thing with the DVR software years ago.. went from licensed to written in house, and they still haven’t gotten the software back to the point it was at when it was licensed.

    • kricka says:

      TWC did this switch in NYC a year or so ago, and I despise it! Say bye bye to searching for shows and movies by actor names, and when you go to delete a recorded show, it just Deletes without asking ‘Are you sure?’, making the drunken accidental delete much more possible.

    • pb5000 says:

      Any links to this beta system? I got the same letter and assumed they were changing the guide around (I’m in an old adelphia area that’s been majorly updated). I think my guide has a lot of room for improvement, it’s just the generic motorola TV Guide platform.

    • jpmoney says:

      Same here as of last spring. I’m not much of a power user of features aside from DVR (I don’t have favorites or search), but its annoying because the newer version is SLOW. SLOW SLOW SLOW SLOW. Its very annoying to have a random 4-5 second lag where your button presses do nothing and then all of a sudden they all go in and you’re 3 pages down from where you were.

      Any complaints are of course met with “we’re aware and are working on it”. Uh huh… let me guess, you’re treating it seriously? Is it also too much to ask that your HD-only boxes actually, gasp, streach the guide to 16:9?

      • wootbot says:

        I agree. It’s SLOW. It’s layer upon on layer of code and middleware, as is clearly evidenced when it’s booting after a power cut or being reset. While there are some nice features, the speed (or lack thereof) is a killer. It’s so bad that I’m used to keying ahead now (e.g. to delete a show it’s something like select, arrow down, select, then ‘A’ to confirm) – so you do that and sit back and wait several seconds for the interface to catch up.

  4. stavr0 says:

    Last spring my cable provider pushed a software update that broke compatibility with about half of the subscriber’s external SATA drive storage. Some people lost all their recorded shows, others were able to record existing stuff to VCR/DVD, but could not watch new recordings.

  5. IphtashuFitz says:

    Yet another reason why I prefer my TiVo over DVR offerings from the cable companies. Both my TiVo’s have lifetime subscriptions so after about 5 years they’ve fully paid for themselves. Only another year or two to go.

  6. liamarbetman says:

    This is TWC’s world. They only let you lease a set top box.

  7. Cantras says:

    Waaaaa. When I upgraded to Win7, I had to back up all the files I wanted to keep.
    (Fun fact: it was way more than a dozen)

    They try to head off an uproar of “waaa no-one told me” and then people whine anyway? This is what happens with upgrades and updates.
    For a non-software analogy, if I’m sweeping the kitchen, I have to move the garbage can to sweep behind it. Then I have to put it back. *sniffles* it’s so hard.

    • sqlrob says:

      The difference is YOU updated Windows 7. YOU are sweeping your kitchen.

      This isn’t being triggered by the OP.

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        AND the difference is that you can restore those files by copying them over. On a DVR, you have recreate them one by one.

        Updates happen, and letting folks know ahead is good. BUT wouldn’t an update in mid-summer be more appropriate, rather than at the start of the Fall TV seasons? This is when all the new shows are released, and people will want to work the DVR to catch premieres and decide what to watch this year. This seems like a bad time to force an upgrade.

        • ames says:

          Well, there’s now a rocking summer season (for which I am happy) so there really isn’t a good time of the year to do this. Maybe December. . .

          • Platypi {Redacted} says:

            True, I guess with the increased production of cable networks original series that tend to run in the summer, and the reality shows that seem to dominate the major networks, there isn’t a GREAT time.

            I think we can agree that it is non-trivial to have to recreate your programming from scratch at any time, but it also ain’t the end of the world.

        • Gulliver says:

          That really depends on your viewing habits. What if the recordings are baseball games, Golf tournaments, Reality shows on cable that premiere mid summer. This is about the stupidest complaint I have ever heard. The company can not win. If they did not do an update it would be , TWC is using software from the 80’s. They told him what was going to happen. Gave him a week to deal with it. Twelve changes over the course of lets say 5 days. That means 2 changes on two days, three on two days. WHOA IS ME. I suppose he is the same guy bitching about how beat up the roads are, but when he hits construction complains to high hell.

      • BoC says:

        So, are you saying the only other option is for TWC to never upgrade their software, never offer better functionality, what you have now is it?

        I’ll take the occasional “inconvenience” of having to redo my settings if it means they make their DVR better.

        • trey says:

          you are making an ass out of your self by assuming that they will make it better for you.

          just because they upgrade something doesn’t mean it will be better, sometimes they run into problems and it just makes it worse.

          • BoC says:

            Hey, nice to meet you, too.

            Geez, all I said is, in trying to make their service better, companies sometimes do this thing called “upgrading” that typically makes said service better, and sometimes after the upgrade you may have to readjust some settings.

            Calm down there, Sparky, and stop assuming you know every persons’ intentions.

        • sqlrob says:

          No, that’s not what I’m saying.

          Don’t make it push, make it pull. Problem solved.

  8. Simon Barsinister says:

    My Tivo never did this to me. I love my Tivo.

    Time Warner could have spent the extra effort to download, reformat, and upload your show subscriptions from the old software to the new software automatically.

  9. haroldx says:

    They did that to me (and, presumably, others a few weeks ago, with different channels. Some of the improvements are pretty neat, if not necessary (episodes of the same show are grouped together on the recorder; there’s now a different way to delete shows once you’ve seen them), but it took several days — rather than the usual day — for my upcoming programming grid to fully recover, and I can now only program a week (to the day) in advance; it used to be longer.

    As usual: thanks for nothin’, Time/Warner.

  10. rhpot1991 says:

    I for one welcome Seth to take this opportunity to improve his DVR. I work on a project called Mythbuntu which clearly would have given Seth the power to maintain his recordings without TWC interfering.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      Curious, this appears to be a PC/computer based OS. This means that you would be setting up multiple devices to handle this, and would have to manage each. The cost in materials and time for Joe average user would make this a pretty unrealistic objective, don’t you think?

      That said, I am a geek, and this is interesting. How does it work with cable/fios/satellite programming? How can you get the stream into the DVR boxes?

      • mr cloudy says:

        It’s just a program that runs on a PC. It captures through a video capture card and you control the STB with an usb ir blaster. I’ve been using SageTv for a couple of years now.

      • rhpot1991 says:

        Yep, its an Open Source video recording solution. It certainly isn’t for everybody. For most people a cheap way to start is to use an old PC, and then add a tuner. So for under $100 you can get a nice dual tuner, which is a much better deal than the $15 a month you pay to rent a DVR from the cable company. As you get further into it, you may end up with a network of computers all accessing the same media, utilizing several tuners and several TB of hard drive space, which obviously is a solution that the cable companies cannot provide you. You can read a lot about the featureset here: http://www.mythtv.org/detail/mythtv and common questions here: http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Frequently_Asked_Questions

        If you have any additional questions you can find a few ways to ask them here: http://www.mythbuntu.org/support

  11. BettyCrocker says:

    They should have come up with a way to transfer the settings without making their customers do it. OR they should offer the customer compensation for the trouble – such a free movie or two – or a discount on this months bill.

    A little acknowledgement that they realize this is an inconvenience would be nice. This letter is more like – Isn’t it great that we’re making you redo this?

    I just noticed that it says you MAY need to – maybe they are trying to transfer everything over but just in case they are letting you know there may be issues and this is why.

  12. Garbanzo says:

    Ugh. I have never heard anything about cable companies’ DVRs that has ever made me willing to give up my TiVo for them. We won’t even subscribe to AT&T Uverse because we would be forced to use their DVR.

    • kethryvis says:

      i have ATT Uverse and TiVo with no ATT DVR.

      That being said, you don’t want Uverse with TIVo anyway. The Uverse cable boxes autotimeout after 8 hours with no input, shutting themselves off. So i now have several 5 minute manual recordings programmed into my TiVo to circumvent this. Lame.

  13. cupcake_ninja says:

    Comcast has been doing “improvements” and “upgrades” similar to that for months now. It’s completely jacked up my channels (their CSRs even admitted that the upgrades didn’t go well or as planned) but at least my TiVo remains normal. Maybe it was a smart choice to not go w/Comcast’s DVR and pay a little more for TiVo.

  14. spazztastic says:

    Please read the original letter for better comprehension. It says _MAY_ in there. “After the update has been completed, you may need to reset some of your personal settings including:…”

    Having gone through this transition, I can tell you I didn’t have any problems.

  15. Tracer Bullet says:

    unplug your dvr that night

  16. quail says:

    He should think himself lucky. When I was with TWC I went through 5 of their Scientific Atlanta DVR boxes. He at least has notice that he’ll have to reprogram. When my boxes failed, they just failed and I had to take the time to drive the box in and get a replacement…and hear the family gripe about having to reprogram their shows…

  17. SharkD says:

    That’s why I make my own DVR at home…

    …with an old CoreSolo MacMini, a pair of EyeTVs (a 200 and a 500) and a massive hard drive.

  18. SeattleSeven says:

    When Comcast decided to dump the Microsoft software they were using and switch to the terrible mess that is “Enhanced TV Guide” branded crap, they asked me to do the same thing. I took that opportunity to dump their crap DVR and move to a new TiVo.

    I’ve never looked back and it just keeps rewarding me with no box rental fees and easy netflix and amazon access!

  19. scurvycapn says:

    The best update was the one they did a year ago. My HD DVR used to have an option to show my favorite channels first. By using that option, I wouldn’t have to see channels like BET, religious channels, or anything else I know I’ll never watch because all of the channels I did watch would be listed together. Then they took it away. Oddly enough, my tiny, non-DVR HD box still has the sort by favorites option.

  20. skylenorman says:

    I got this letter too. There’s a piece missing from it. It’s only for HBO and Showtime channels because they’re changing the numbers for them. And it’s not that they’re deprogramming your DVR, it’s that if you don’t update the recordings with the new channel they won’t take place. This isn’t an issue at all.

    Seth just really really wanted to get something on Consumerist.

  21. therealchriss says:

    Post the rest of the letter!!!!!

    • therealchriss says:

      Honestly – even the picture blatantly alludes to the fact that there is more key information, and it has been cut off. Was it cut off by Phil or the person sending it in? In any case, that doesn’t really matter. If it was Seth, then Phil should’ve read what he was posting and ask for the complete letter. If it was Phil, then that’s just dirty.

      Why is a pro-consumer blog attempting to misinform consumers?

  22. cluberti says:

    For what it’s worth, this happened in our area on Tuesday evening, and it did last all of the 6 hours they said it would. On reboot you get a nice Cisco logo and a boot screen, and then the new software loads up. It’s slower than the old software, takes longer to do the same functions, and looks marginally better, but only marginally. The usability is about the same (average, but far below what a TiVo or MCE box provides), so you will basically get nothing for something, rather than the other way around.

    Isn’t that exciting? No? Didn’t think so. My old Series 2 TiVo died a year ago, after replacing the HDD 3 times over it’s 6 years, and I’d been living without it. Had been using the TW DVR for about 6 months on the old software, and after this “upgrade” I went and returned the TW DVR for a regular cable box and got a new TiVo HD. Happiness is not using the TW software, really.

  23. Bog says:

    Yea, I got the same warning with Comcast and their Moto box. The software delivered sometime overnight while the box was “off” or not recording some time over the a three day period. They said I “may” loose my information and settings but nothing actually happened. The new bios was remotely installed and features added.

    The letter above also used the word “may” which means that you probably won’t loose your settings but, just to cover their butts, they warned you that there is a chance data may be erased. Common legal boilerplate for their corporate CYA.

  24. ohhhh says:

    This happened to me once, only it was my bank and it was with scheduled payments. At least you got a warning.

  25. mbbbus says:

    Comcast did this to me last month, but didn’t warn about the DVD erasure. Nice. Parlayed that into a year of free premium channels when I called to complain. Still, I lost stuff I can’t replace (e.g. my kids on the news).
    BTW I know of no way yo backup the stuff on my Comcast/Scientific Atlanta DVR. Can it be done?

  26. Frankie says:

    I fail to see the bad in this story. I know routine maintenance and software updates are necessary to keep the system up-to-date and running smoothly. At least they are telling you that it COULD become service impacting instead of them just doing it and you having to call them to complain later. Hope mine updates soon.

  27. Frankie says:

    I fail to see the bad in this story. I know routine maintenance and software updates are necessary to keep the system up-to-date and running smoothly. At least they are telling you that it COULD become service impacting instead of them just doing it and you having to call them to complain later. Hope mine updates soon.