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Tivo Institutes 1 Year Service Contracts 332

Posted by Zonk
from the that-makes-me-grumpy dept.
azoblue writes "TiVo recently changed their customer agreement, allowing them to institute service contracts with early cancellation fees." From the article: "According to the new service agreement, any TiVo activated after September 6 will require a 12-month commitment. Those who cancel before the end of their contract, or have their contracts terminated by TiVo, will be forced to pay a $150 early termination fee ... Although not specified in the new agreement, some customers have reported that adding a new TiVo to their service makes contracts activated before that date also applicable to the new policy."
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Tivo Institutes 1 Year Service Contracts

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  • Reasonable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This seems reasonable, a way to have guaranteed revenue stream and a penalty for people who cancel early.
    • This seems reasonable, a way to have guaranteed revenue stream and a penalty for people who cancel early.

      It's reasonable for people that buy their FIRST Tivo. If the reports that adding an additional Tivo (rebates wouldn't apply as the user would already have existing service and wouldn't be elligible) causes your contract to change, then that's not reasonable.
      • Re:Reasonable (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tomhudson (43916) <barbara DOT huds ... a-hudson DOT com> on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:32PM (#13640891) Journal
        or have their contracts terminated by TiVo, will be forced to pay a $150 early termination fee
        1. Take the consumers' money
        2. Cancel their agreement the next day, before providing any services
        3. Another $150 PROFIT!
        Sounds fishy to me that they get to break the agreement, and the CONSUMER is penalized. It should be whoever breaks the agreement owes the other party. If its the consumer, they ante up $150. If its TIVO, Tivo should have to have the same obligation. After all, a contract is a contract. Whichever party breaks it should compensate the other party.
        • Re:Reasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

          by KillShill (877105) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:40PM (#13640938)
          a contract is a contract, except when it's between a little customer and a giant corporation. then it's always in the company's favor regardless of merit.
          • Re:Reasonable (Score:5, Informative)

            by pete6677 (681676) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @08:10PM (#13641118)
            Only if you allow it to be that way. First, NEVER sign something without reading it. If you don't understand the agreement and can't get a satisfactory explaination, don't sign. If a company fails to live up to their end of the deal, explore your legal options. That doesn't usually mean hiring an expensive attorney. The business is most likely regulated by multiple local and federal agencies, and threats to file complaints usually result in action being taken. Most businesses scam people who are content to allow themselves to be scammed.
            • Re:Reasonable (Score:2, Informative)

              by mwilli (725214)
              Excellent advise! Never, NEVER, sign a contract unless you fully understand your role and the other parties roll, and, especially for a company, how they can rape you if you, or in this case either party, breaks the contract.
              But, if they do try to take advantage of it, and they know it, often times if legal action is mentioned, they will not bother with $150. That is small change if they only have to give it up once in a while.
            • Re:Reasonable (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Belial6 (794905) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @09:18PM (#13641512)
              That's how I got out of my AT&T/Cingular contract. While Cingular is still trying to claim that it is impossible for them to fulfill thier contracts with AT&T bought customers, after filling a complaint with the FCC, I got a call from their "office of the president". When I kept pressing the person on the phone, and kept telling them that they are under contract, and breaking my phone service is a violation of that contract, they eventually cancelled my contract withour penelty.

              The conversation went along the lines of...

              Me: You have broken my phone. You need to fix the service or cancel the contract without penalty.

              Cingular: We are aware of the problem, it is caused by our upgrades to the system. We can sell you a new phone, and move you to the Cingular network. That would solve the problem.

              Me: Would that require a restart of the contract period? What would be the cost?

              Cingular: Yes, it would restart your contract period. It would be about $10 more a month, and you would get 200 less minutes.

              Me: Why would I sign a new contract with a company that has violated their existing contract, AND pay more for less minutes? That would be stupid of me wouldn't it?

              Cingular: Well, I guess. There really isn't anything else we can do...

              Me: No, you need to fulfill the existing contract.

              Cingular: We can't do that.

              Me: Then you are in breach of contract. To continue to bill me for a service that you know you are not providing is fraud.

              Cingular: Well, if you read your contract, we don't guarantee service in all areas.

              Me: I'm not complaining about various dead zones. I am complaining about zones that previously had service, and no longer has them. I am complaining about voice mail being delivered days later, and out of order. I am complaining about sitting still, and having calls disconnect.

              Cingular: What would you like us to do about that?

              Me: I would like you to fulfill your contract.

              Cingular: Well, we don't like to do this, but we could cancel your contract.

              Me: Without any penalty to me?

              Cingular: Yes.

              Me: Ok. That would be acceptable.
        • Re:Reasonable (Score:3, Insightful)

          by monkeydo (173558)
          The contract certainly spells out the terms under which TiVo can terminate the agreement. Most likely based on events like you not paying your bill. If they didn't have that right under the contract, they'd have to sue you each month you didn't pay your bill. There is a difference between a termination under the terms of the contract, and a breach.
          • Re:Reasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tomhudson (43916) <barbara DOT huds ... a-hudson DOT com> on Saturday September 24, 2005 @08:05PM (#13641095) Journal
            If youhad RTFA, you'd have found they're sneaking this in the back door.
            "Apparently you have to read the fine print, because there is no mention of a service contract during the setup phase on tivo.com."
            Also, they're making it so that even if you bought and paid for your TIVO a year ago, and paid full price, with no discounts or incentives, buying another one will make you have to agree to the $150 cancellation penalty PER MACHINE.

            That's bullshit. You can't unilaterally alter a pre-existing contract. It would be like buying a second cell phone on a second line, and being charged an early cancellation fee on both lines if you changed services, even though your first cell line is already fully-amortized.

            • Either the author is FOS, or TiVo has modified their website. The one year commitment is mentioned on the front page [tivo.com], on the shopping pages [tivo.com], and on the first setup screen [tivo.com] in addition to a link in each place to the fill terms of service. I don't know if the link will work, but the commitment is even listed on the rebate form on Best Buy's website.

              Secondly, the agreement states:

              WITH RESPECT TO ANY NEW TIVO SERVICE SUBSCRIPTION ACTIVATED ON OR AFTER SEPTEMBER 6, 2005, YOU AGREE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE TIVO SERVI

              • Doesn't this just mean that you'll get the $150 charge (the rebate amount) if you cancel in less than 12 months?

                If you choose not to take the rebate for some reason, then they're not going to charge you $150 extra on top of the cost of the unit.

                N.
    • Re:Reasonable (Score:3, Insightful)

      by saden1 (581102)
      Umm, what if you become unhappy with their service and want to opt-out? Anytime you lock-in a consumer you're not being reasonable in my opinion. I mean, if I'm unhappy why shouldn't I be able to change service?
      • You are signing a contract to get 150 dollars from tivo for free. If you break that contract, they want their money back. Feel free to be unhappy, you just have to pay the 200 bucks they're asking for without their special deal. There's no lock-in.
      • "Umm, what if you become unhappy with their service and want to opt-out? Anytime you lock-in a consumer you're not being reasonable in my opinion. I mean, if I'm unhappy why shouldn't I be able to change service?"

        Hypothetically speaking: It depends on what's being offered. Cellular providers, for example, will often give you a free phone for a 1 or 2 year contract. This seems reasonable to me, they're giving you an up front savings. They also give you a month to back down, although I think this is a rec
    • I would like the situation much more if TiVo were to give the option of reduced hardware with a one year contract or full price hardware with no contract. That way the choice would be in the user's hands.
  • MythTV (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Raven42rac (448205) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:26PM (#13640838)
    I was flirting with getting a tivo, but have reconsidered. I already have a DVD recorder, and as much of a pain as it is, I'm going to build a mythtv [mythtv.org] box. Tivo obviously does not care about their consumers, only about money and fellating hollywood.
    • Re:MythTV (Score:2, Informative)

      by slimey_limey (655670)
      Don't forget fellating advertisers [slashdot.org].
    • I never gave serious thought to buying a TiVO. I am not going to shell out several hundred bucks on a device that MUST be connected to the manufacturer/service provider in order to work. I'd be more than happy to pay several hundred dollars for a TiVo-like product that was entirely stand-alone. I know how to program a VCR, I don't need idiot-proof scheduling software for that. Once the company started going the route of making money on the service rather than on the hardware, all of the current abuses (thei
      • Re:MythTV (Score:3, Funny)

        by Stradenko (160417)
        Tivo makes one.
        • by PatHMV (701344)
          Do you have a link for one of those? All the products shown on Tivo.com require a subscription service of one sort or another. ReplayTV also requires a subscription and they reserve the right to change your software whenever you connect to their server.
          • Re:Link? (Score:5, Informative)

            by NanoGator (522640) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @09:37PM (#13641628) Homepage Journal
            "ReplayTV also requires a subscription and they reserve the right to change your software whenever you connect to their server."

            I've had a Replay for 2 years now, haven't had any problems with them removing services or anything. Commercial skip still works, etc. It even has a network port. If I download the right software I can grab those shows. They even have a website where you can set your unit. (it takes 24 hours for the changes to take effect, though. It makes sense considering it only calls home once a day.)

            With that said, though, I think the unit is going bye bye. It's not out of disatisfaction, though. Comcast has a DVR option now. I've had it for a couple of months and I like it. There are some downsides to it. I cannot hit it over the network. It doesn't have auto commercial skip. I think it has less capacity than the Replay, though it has enough I haven't noticed much. I liked Replay's interface better, it handles categorization etc. (I.e. My girlfriend had her own group and I had mine.) Sounds like a crummy unit, right? Nah. Thing is, I have digital cable. I couldn't get the Replay to work with the digital cable. (well... supposedly I can get an IR thingy for it, but as I say more here you'll understand why it's not of much importance to me.) So I cannot record HBO etc with the Replay. The Replay lets you watch TV and pause etc, but it's not as elegant as Comcast's DVR does it. It's slower to change channels etc. Even when I only had analog cable, I despised using the Replay this way. I think the Replay I have only has one tuner. The Comcast box I have now has two, and it's come in handy. I also like that the Comcast DVR doesn't eat up a network port. That's the main reason I'm seriously considering getting a second unit for the bedroom. I only wish those two units would talk to each other so that stuff I record in the bedroom could be watched in the living room. It doesn't auto skip commercials but fast fowarding is easy enough. To make a long story short, the Replay has merits above the Comcast DVR, but I'm happier with the Comcast box. Mainly, though, the difference is my preference for digital cable.

            In any event, you have choices out there. I don't know if your cable company has a DVR. If you don't, the Replay is a fine unit. Honestly, I prefer the Replay over TiVo to begin with. I know a guy with a DVR on his satellite reciever. He's happy with it, though I'd highly recommend one with two tuners. That's bitten him a few times.
    • Re:MythTV (Score:4, Informative)

      by jest3r (458429) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:55PM (#13641039)
      I recently purchased a PVR (Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300) from Future Shop for $399. It works with my Rogers Cable and I haven't had to pay any additional fees other than a $2 per month digital listings feed. I was also able to upgrade the hardrive in it no problem. It can record 2 shows at once, fast forward / pause live tv, do advanced scheduling etc .. actually its really amazing and has changed the way I watch tv. What makes Tivo better (and more costly)?

      • Re:MythTV (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SeaFox (739806) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @11:15PM (#13642133)
        actually its really amazing and has changed the way I watch tv. What makes Tivo better (and more costly)?

        Actually nothing. The interface may be better, I don't have a TiVo. What's going on here is U.S. Cable conglomerates being greedy. You're in Canada I take it being on Rogers. In the U.S. cable providers don't make their boxes available to buy at Best Buy, Circuit City, ect. If you did manage to procure a box (like by keeping one from your cable provider or buying one on eBay) the new provider would refuse to authorize it on their systems. In fact, if I remember right, buying digital cable boxes online is illegal (probably since the boxes are never meant to be sold and therefore are considered stolen property on the marketplace). And now they've probably added DMCA stuff to the mix.

        If you want to record a digital cable station while watching another you can either rent a second converter box to use solely with your TiVo or other PVR (none of which can deencrypt the digital signal on their own), or rent a PVR with dual tuners from your cable company. U.S. cable companies will not allow you to purchase outright any digital cable box, only rent.

        Cable companies sucker people in with the extra channels on digital cable, not mentioning how it will keep them from being able to record and watch the higher channels without paying a second box fee like they have been able to with analog cable and a VCR for decades. Plus, they do stuff like disable the S-video port of cable boxes so TiVo can't make the box tune stations on it's own. When you call and complain, they will be sympathetic, then they'll offer you a DVR rental for a low monthly fee to alleviate your sudden issues using TiVo. :-)
    • Configuration aside, how does MythTV's interface compare to TiVo's? I mean, what approach to aesthetics and usability does MythTV take? Cluttery? Simple? Configurable? Do the available remote controls compare favorably to TiVo's [nytimes.com]?

      This is the stuff Google doesn't help with, and I don't know where to try out a MythTV box without going through the hassle of setting it up myself. Basically I'm asking this. Does TiVo : MythTV :: Mac OS X : Linux+Gnome/KDE, or is the situation somewhat better?
      • Re:MythTV questions (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Harker (96598)
        As far as aesthetics goes, I believe that MythTV is themeable, so you have a few choices.

        Here are some screenshots [mythtv.org] to peruse.

        I dithered between the idea of getting another Tivo (one not tied to DirectTV) and building a MythTV box. After their glitch, which allowed people to see the content restrictions that can be put in place, I've decided to build my own.

        It'll take a few months though. Until then, I'll stick with the old fashioned way of recording. Setting the channels before I leave the house, and sett
        • Thanks for the reply. Some of these screenshots look great, others look ass-ugly [sourceforge.net], if straightforward [sourceforge.net], but I guess all's well as long as it's (sigh) themeable. Though I wish they wouldn't rely on theming to make it look good.

          Screenshots only tell half the story, though. How about responsiveness? Visual cues? I don't care about useless animations like in XP, but little things like zooms, fades, wipes, even subtle blinking UI elements can really give you a sense that you know what's going on, that you're in co
          • While it may not be what your looking for, there is a list of themes on the site as well.

            As far as responsiveness, I can't tell you, since I haven't yet build a box. I suspect that will depend, much like any other computer operating system, on the CPU and amount of memory.

            Hopefully, it'll be as, if not more responsive as Tivo was most of the time.

            H.
        • Re:MythTV questions (Score:4, Informative)

          by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @09:47PM (#13641690)
          It'll take a few months though.

          Why so long? You want to know a little secret from one satisfied MythTV user to a potential user? Seperate your backend system from the front end you're going to hook up to your TV. It'll add more to the cost but you will appreciate it in the long run. I use a plain old AMD Athlon 1.4 GHZ system with 512MB of RAM and two Hauppauge WinTV PVR 250 cards on the backend and a little diskless book-sized system on the frontend using a Via EPIA M10000 motherboard and MiniMyth [linpvr.org].

          The advantage to going this way is that the backend can be very low-end (a PIII-500MHz or slower would be sufficient) since the MPEG2 encoding is done on the Hauppauge cards. The frontends are also pretty low end (mine is around 1GHz) but they have built in MPEG2 decoder hardware on the motherboard so they use very little CPU while playing back video.

          If you run Debian unstable you can get pre-built packages from Matt Zimmerman's web site, so the hard part is getting the IVTV drivers working so you can capture video from the PVR 250 cards. It's well documented and they've stabilized a lot in the last 2 years. My setup has been running without any problems since March when I finally traced back some issue I was having with 0-byte size recordings to an IRQ sharing conflict. Once I disabled the USB and parallel ports I wasn't using and put each tuner on a separate IRQ in the BIOS it's been rock solid. Once you get the capture cards working, mythtv itself is simple to setup. apt-get install the packages, follow the setup prompts, and then run the mythtv setup program to configure your tuners, setup your guide data download preferences (North America uses the free Zap2It Labs Data Direct service that downloads listings in a nice XML format (labs.zap2it.com).

          I've been using MythTV for two and a half years now and I honestly never get jealous of TiVo or ReplayTV users. If anything I pity them for being locked into a proprietary pay service with their video locked on a hard drive which forces you to jump through hoops to get at it.

  • by garcia (6573) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:26PM (#13640841) Homepage
    According to the new service agreement, any TiVo activated after September 6 will require a 12-month commitment. Those who cancel before the end of their contract, or have their contracts terminated by TiVo, will be forced to pay a $150 early termination fee.

    Well, with rebates that bring the devices under $50 and their recent radically retarded decisions such as presenting ads to users that bought a Tivo to rid themselves of ads, etc, it's no wonder they are going to these lengths!

    I was the first to support Tivo for what their device and service did for my household. I am also the first to complain to Tivo and Slashdot (and various others including my parents who I had originally suggested a Tivo) that their service is no longer worth it.

    Good riddance Tivo. While I still use your product (DirecTivo), I'm glad I'm not obligated to fall under any of your contractual and flighty mishaps.
  • by Ka D'Argo (857749) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:27PM (#13640848) Homepage
    I was considering getting TiVo.

    Digital cable (even basic cable) is getting extremely high priced, and this is with no DVR style record feature. Not keen on a satelite dish either, heard some horror stories from other family members and friends.

    TiVo looked great, record what you want when you want so you never miss something. Skip commericals (bout frakking time) and more. Now they've taken some ancient MSN/AOL type deal where you gotta have a service plan contract? Sorry, no thank you.

    What if something where to happen where you couldn't afford that TiVo every month? (Granted yes money management saves alot but anyone can fall on tough times), you suddenly gotta cough up $150 flat fee cause you needed to save a few monthly payments and use it for gas or food? Yea, that'll go over real well.

    Watch for a slow rise in the bittorrent community in the coming year or so as more TiVo like providers probably switch to similar "plans".

    • please tell some dish horror stories. I just moved into an apt complex that offers "basic cable" but it's really repackaged directv. So far, the only problems I have are channel repeats, and last night a few channels had the "technical difficulities" screen.

      Grump
      • I'm actually in the same situation, I moved into a new apartment complex where they do "repackaged DirecTV" also. It's actually not that bad, but the biggest problem that I have is that I never know whether the glitches in the video are because of the signal, or my PVR-350/PVR-500. That and Zap2It (used by my MythTV machine) has incorrect listings for some of the channels (because they're on an EST feed, but Zap2It thinks that they're PST channels).

        The only problems that you'll really have are when the di
    • I was looking at a DVR a year or so ago. I looked at TiVo but did not like the phone line coming out of the back of it. So I decided to buy a Panasonic DVR. I don't get all the fancy TiVo features, like it recording shows it thinks I might like, or on screen program guides; but it does record the shows I tell it to record, and there are no pop-ads, monthly charges or service agreements.

      From the looks of the news coming out of TiVo lately, my decision to bypass TiVo was a good one.

    • "Digital cable (even basic cable) is getting extremely high priced, and this is with no DVR style record feature. Not keen on a satelite dish either, heard some horror stories from other family members and friends."

      I'm paying $80 a month right now for digital cable (including HBO and Showtime) and a DVR. Could I be doing much better than that with satellite? I don't know if it helps, but I'm just north of Santa Barbara in California. I say 'much better' because I also have a cable modem (that's another $40
  • Reverse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Angry Artist (877090) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:28PM (#13640856)
    TiVo - Take(ing) back your TV
  • by kushboy (233801)
    I guess this makes sense in a way. But with competitors, wouldn't this cause some potential customers to back away? Once someone buys a Tivo, I'd think they'd stick with the Tivo service over changing to another company. So this affects new customers mostly, who might be scared away.
  • by C0deJunkie (309293) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:28PM (#13640860) Homepage Journal
    According to this article [boingboing.net] the company has been able to silently (and with no-opt-out policy) upgrade the TiVo to include the red flag stuff(some shows can be delete or not retained more than 7 days...you know..)
    Very..."unconfortable"...
    From boing boing:
    Earlier this month, TiVo owners discovered that a mandatory, non-optional "update" to their TiVos changed the built-in software so that broadcasters could flag certain shows for automatic deletion and for restriction from use with TiVoToGo. David Zatz, a TiVo owner, decided to cancel his TiVo service. After all, he'd bought a device that could record all shows, not one that could record all shows save those that some paranoid Hollywood exec, overzealous broadcaster, or fumble-fingered technician gave him permission to record. TiVo had broken his device and he didn't want to keep using it. But when he looked up canceling his TiVo, he found out that under the terms of his "agreement" with TiVo (e.g., the crap he clicked through when get got set up), he was obliged to pay a $150 "early cancellation" fee.
    • But when he looked up canceling his TiVo, he found out that under the terms of his "agreement" with TiVo (e.g., the crap he clicked through when get got set up), he was obliged to pay a $150 "early cancellation" fee.

      Irrelevant. You don't have to pay to break a contract the other party has already broken.

      TWW

    • In Tivo's defense here, they are really caught in bind that the various media licensing companies have set up. In order for Tivo to get a license to officially support DVDs, they also have to agree to support digital Macrovision. But Macrovision has a requirement in their license that any licensee must also support DRM including red flagging. So Tivo had a choice of a) never supporting DVDs b) fighting these inter-locking contractual requirements in court c) swallowing the entire bitter pill of restrictions
      • Are you absolutely sure that the flags are under the control of the local stations?

        I could see big issues with local control (for example, if the local cable company decides that they want to sell their own PVRs instead of people buying TiVos, and insert the protect-flag everywhere to make owning a TiVo less appealing than their own receiver).

        I know that Tivo "claimed" this was the case, but if it was a local flag as opposed to something downloaded in the guide from TiVoHQ, it would be simple to build a fil
    • It makes perfect sense(from the point of view of the company), they screwed up by adding the broadcast flag then implemented a damage control measure, I mean $150 cancellation fee, in an attempt to prevent customers from cancelling what they no longer consider to be an acceptible service after a non-optional "upgrade"/"feature". A previous comment mentioned the "upgrade" was required to get an official license to support DVDs. I just looked at the TiVo store, what about the basic model that doesn't even hav
  • This is why (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bl968 (190792)
    This is why you shouldn't use Tivo. If you have one replace it with one from a different manufacturer. If you are thinking about buying one get any but tivo several posts here offer alternatives. If Tivo is driven out of business by their customers based on their abusive policies it will be a stern warning to those who follow!
  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:29PM (#13640870)
    Just a change in business plans, RTFA. Tivo is giving deep discounts and rebates for the hardware. $50 for a Tivo means that they *have* to get a service commitment to break even.

    Nothing new here, move along...
    • Nothing new here... except the whole "If they terminate your service you still have to pay the cancellation fee". I always thought a cancellation fee was a penalty for YOUR choice stop using a service, not being terminated. Geez, thats like getting fired and being told you have to repay your last 3 pay checks.
    • I'm thinking this also helps on a balance sheet if they were looking to be bought out. Now they can say 'we have X million subscribers with contracts'.
    • But they are charging $12/month for what is essentially additional ads and an EPG.

      Really, this hurts their chances in the second hand market. I would like to try Tivo on a series one model and eBay is a good place to get one. I can't spend $300 out of my pocket and refuse to sign a contract (that I might not be able to see to it's end because changing finances), so now I'll never really see Tivo in my home.

      They could have had a nice second revenue stream from people activating older units but now if I'm for
      • I'm not sure where you got your information. You can pick up a used series I with lifetime service for less than $200 on ebay. The lifetime service is good for the life of the unit and is fully transferable. I have 2 units that I obtained that way. Install a network card and hack them for shell prompt, ftp, web server and video extraction and have a ball.
    • I loved my Tivo for a little while... Even used it *in place of* a MythTV box I had already built before I ever had the thing! But selling the units for next to nothing and trying to make up for it with service contracts isn't the way to go.

      My Tivo actually died on me (appears to be a faulty CPU since it boots to the initial splash screen ok, but then goes to a black screen with some kind of error about an unexpected instruction and stops). Even though I already had a lifetime membership for it, I'm unab
  • I don't get it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jerkychew (80913) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:31PM (#13640882) Homepage
    ...Are they trying to get rid of their customers?

    I mean, a few years ago, Tivo was a wonderful, one-of-a-kind service. Back then, maybe something like this would fly. But now, with virtually every cable company out there offering their own DVRs, the novelty of having a tivo has pretty much worn off. Sure, nobody's DVR can match the ease of use or features of a Tivo, but I don't think a tivo is worth the $150 price premium they're imposing on their users.

    I have two Tivos, a 40 hour and a 140 hour. I have them cuz they 'just work', and I haven't gotten around to building a stable MythTV box yet. I'm also a Tivo Rewards member, with 6 referrals under my belt. With this new pricing strategy, those two Tivos will be the last I ever buy, and I'll never recommend a Tivo to anybody again.
  • Tivo contract (Score:4, Insightful)

    by No2Gates (239823) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:32PM (#13640894)
    What they're doing is the same as the cell phone companies have done for years here in the US. They reduce the price of the phone to below wholesale to get you to sign up, then they get you to stay by signing the 1 year contract. You might be able to get out of signing a contract if you pay full price for the Tivo...
    • Correction.

      Most cell phone contracts are now 2-year agreements. Also, if you upgrade your phone, your timer resets and are now responsible for another 2 years.
  • by shr3k (451065) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:34PM (#13640900) Homepage
    I have a MythTV box and I'm tired of maintaining it (Gentoo-based VIA EPIA 1.0ghz C3 Nehemiah utilizing Hauppauge PVR 250). I value my time and I hate tinkering with the system to keep it working (e.g., NTP won't run as often as it should, so my recordings are off by 20-30 secs and I have to login and manually run ntpdate).

    I really want to sell the whole thing that cost me over $400 to build and switch to a Tivo. With Tivo, I could spend $200 on a box (get $150 back in a rebate) and pay $14/mo for service. Sounds good so far. This 1-yr contract doesn't bother me as much (like with my cell phone) as long as the thing works. The only real worry is the DRM and the fact that they control their service from afar.

    I know people are going to say "blah blah, this is why you should switch to MythTV." Has anyone been successful in prototyping a Mythbox (such that it just works for long periods of time without having to worry about tweaks and workarounds)? If so, please tell me how.

    Otherwise, I'm afraid Tivo seems the better way to go if you value your free time.
    • As someone who just spent about 60 hours getting Myth working on debian stable (sarge) w/ PVR-350 w/ automatic transcoding to MPEG4 w/ dual X11 desktop (F7, F8) allowing the computer to be used as a desktop system while the wife watches tv in the other room-- I must say... dump gentoo! hehe

      The ivtvdev_drv.o for X11 was a royal pain to compile, I had to apt-get source xserver-xfree86 and build the deb so that I had a configured X11 tree otherwise XV wouldn't be enabled and it'd be slower than crap.

      Limitation
      • Good Ghod! 60 hours is a month and a half of full time work! I really hope you did that as a hobby and really enjoyed building it because there was certainly no economic reason to do so. I don't think I spend enough time watching television to make it worth it to give up that much of my life.

        --
        Evan

    • by nathanh (1214) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @08:36PM (#13641259) Homepage
      I know people are going to say "blah blah, this is why you should switch to MythTV." Has anyone been successful in prototyping a Mythbox (such that it just works for long periods of time without having to worry about tweaks and workarounds)?

      Sure, I've had a stable MythTV server for over 12 months. I've got 350GB striped storage, DVB tuners and multiple frontends (Mac, Xbox, Laptop).

      If so, please tell me how.

      Easy.

      1. Find a reliable EPG source.
      2. Pre and post-record every show by 5 minutes.
      3. Ensure you have NTP installed.
      4. Install a cron job to restart myth-backend once a week.
      5. Once it's working, STOP FUCKING WITH IT.

      That last lesson is the hardest to learn. Once you stop "tweaking" the damn thing, it stops breaking.

    • I'm considering going the other direction. I see a gradual errosion of TiVo and it's services. The whole thing is rediculous because if you want to use the box you have to have the service. I don't like contracts and would rather pay full price to avoid them. I went with a Virgin phone for that reason. Not the most cost effective but it's flexsible. Everyone wants to lock you into their service. My TiVo is already recording commercials passively, as I found out the other night when it force fed me an infome
    • by meehawl (73285)
      I really want to sell the whole thing that cost me over $400 to build and switch to a Tivo.

      Tivo has some nasty approaches to DRM and content expiration. If you like Myth, you'll probably be happier with a networked OOBE, DRM-free thing like ReplayTV [avsforum.com].
    • My big problem wouldn't be my PC slowly moving out of sync with the networks, it's the fact that the networks are purposefully going out of sync with each other. I am now routinely switching from a show that just ended to something in the next time slot that's already started. It's stupid, and it only makes me value television less.
    • Just a suggestion, but if you want low-maintenance, Gentoo is probably the worst choice you could have made. Try Fedora or Mandrake or Suse or something. Gentoo is inherently high-maintenance.
  • They're giving 150 rebate for new users so that a tivo box only costs 50 dollars, they're gonna execute that 150 fee back at those people if they cancel.
  • Evil is bliss (Score:4, Informative)

    by dj245 (732906) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:36PM (#13640911) Homepage
    Service contracts are evil and there is no advantage for a customer to have one and all the benifiets lie with the company.

    That being said, maybe they think people will just bend over and take it, since their sattelite dishes and cable TV usually requires a service contract too.

    • If you have a service contract and they raise the rates, your rates do not go up. If you have a sevice contract and the company is bought, the new company may be required to continue to provide the service. If you agree to a service contract, you'll almost always pay less up front since the service provider can amortize their new customer costs over the length of your contract. If the service provider arbitrarily decides to change or discontinue the service, you may have legal recourse. These are but a
  • Somewhat true. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by agent dero (680753) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:37PM (#13640915) Homepage
    Wow, this is like Digg three days later.

    Anyways, the service contracts seem to be for those customers who get the rebate from TiVo, in order to ensure that TiVo doesn't lose money offering up $150 rebates to new customers.

    It's TiVo's marketshare to lose anyways.
  • Though I guess the feeling here is "then just don't do it" - a popular argument with slave owners.
  • by cloudnin (843721)
    I don't have a TiVo, but judging from the articles about TiVo that make it to /., I have to think that in any sane universe this would be the last straw, signaling the end of TiVo. So I guess the logical question is: How long till the FCC makes TiVo mandatory?

    Also, what's the status of being able to skip over commercials? Is this still allowed or has it been significantly changed from the way it was originally? Might this new 12-month commitment presage an end to being able to skip commercials? (So that p

  • My almost five-year-old ReplayTV is starting to show its age. I don't have the free time or the inclination to build a MythTV box.

    What is the current state of the art in High Definition DVRs? I know that TiVo put one out about a year and a half ago, but stories like this make me hesitant to deal with TiVo.

    I have DirecTV, which means that if I use 'their' DVR, I'm still using a TiVo. (right?)

    Mostly, what I want is:

    1) Ability to do with HDTV the same thing I can do with SDTV today -- time shift, pause, ski
  • I was interested in getting one after my current VCR dies, but its price and subscription price bothered me. Now, this termination fee!

    I can get Replay, but I heard it has subscription fee too.

    MythTV is nice, but I don't have time to set it up and maintain it (stuff break down, need upgrades, etc.). I prefer hardware base.
  • The story is wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

    by sakusha (441986) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @08:01PM (#13641066)
    The story is complete misinformation. The 1 year service issues only apply to machines bought now that qualify for a $150 rebate. If you don't keep your TiVo service active for a full year, you get a chargeback for your $150 rebate. All other TiVos use the old monthly service charges or you can buy a lifetime subscription. This is a non-issue.

    Since you can buy TiVo units for a cost of $50 now (and for a brief time, you could actually make a $50 PROFIT buying a $100 TiVo on Amazon and getting a $150 rebate) it only makes sense for TiVo to protect themselves from people buying cheap units for the rebate, then dumping them on eBay.

    A long time ago, I spoke to one of the top executives at TiVo, he told me that they make no money on hardware sales, they gave all those profits to the hardware manufacturers, they make money only on subscriptions and subsidiary projects like advertising. TiVo is giving up $150, the equivalent of a full year's subscription fees, just to move more hardware. It is a gift to their hardware producing partners. It only makes sense for TiVo to protect themselves from unscrupulous buyers exploiting this project.
  • MCE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by georgi55 (776997) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @08:06PM (#13641100)
    That's why I use Windows Media Center edition 2005, bought a $50 200GB HD and $50 TV card, put them in old AMD 1700+ computer and I pay no monthly fee.
  • I think (Score:5, Funny)

    by seabreezemm (577723) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @08:13PM (#13641131)
    I think that Tivo wanted to see what 65,000,000 middle fingers looked like all at once.
  • by jkeegan (35099) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @08:14PM (#13641137) Homepage Journal
    Ok, I'm still stunned there are people who haven't decided to get a TiVo yet in this day and age. Slashdot comments like "Well, I was on the fence.. I was about to get one.. But NOW.. nope!" are astounding.. If you don't have one already, I don't get the feeling you were about to sign up anytime soon.. What else did the box need to do for you - produce gold?

    As for this most recent news article, it shouldn't affect anyone who's thought about this for more than 10-15 seconds.. Paying the $12/month fee is a suckers game - they let you pay a one-time fee (originally $199, then $249, now I think $299) for the LIFETIME of the unit.. If you have it more than 2 years, the lifetime subscription paid for itself and you're free - if you opted to pay $12 per month, you're losing money.

    Who are these slashdot readers who are getting paid so poorly that they can't afford $299 up-front instead of the screw-you-layaway-plan option? They are the only ones who are affected or should be complaining about this change.

    Every time TiVo makes some change that lets them stay alive, someone's there to complain that they're not going with them now. No one's buying it - you're not getting the company to change their plan - they're not reading slashdot to see if you're happy about it or not.

    Oh yeah - one last thing.. From now on, anyone considering getting a TiVo: TiVo Inc just made it easier to see that the $$/month is a sucker's game.. To "make out" on that deal you'd have to buy a TiVo, decide AFTER a year that you don't like it, but BEFORE two years.. Then maybe you'd save UP TO $150.. Again - who is making these low salaries?!

    (and yes, I know DirecTivo people don't have the lifetime option - but then again DirecTV isn't marketing DirecTiVos anymore either)
    • Easy answer: The people with brains who build their own PVRs. People who like to control their devices, not the other way around. E.g., my homebuilt PVRs will never delete a show without my permission. People who want to edit out the commercials and burn to DVD. People who are sick of the broadcasters eroding our fair use rights AND forcing us to pay for the privilege!

      You clearly love your Tivo so I'll put this in terms you'll easily understand: Baaaaaa baaaaa baaaaaa. (I'm sorry if my spelling is bad,
    • Who are these slashdot readers who are getting paid so poorly that they can't afford $299 up-front instead of the screw-you-layaway-plan option?

      Find me an entry-level programming job in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I might find the $299. Monster, CareerBuilder, and Dice haven't helped.

      Again - who is making these low salaries?!

      Some of them must be people who graduated from university with a B.Sc. in computer science only to find massive unemployment and who accepted part-time minimum wage jobs while wa

  • oh, ffs... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rjhall (80887)
    I just bought a tivo. It was free after the $150 rebate.
    the box is obviously worth something, so if I cancel before some reasonable time I'd expect to pay for that box (or return the box).
    Surely that isn't difficult to understand?
  • The same story was on digg a couple days ago with the same misleading topic. Just like on Digg, people who dont read the story bashed TiVo. If you read the story, OR the comments then you would know the $150 cancellation is due to the $150 rebate they give you.

    I wonder which news (cough) source will post the same bullshit headline next.

    Ahh, sensationalism at work.
  • true cost of tivo (Score:2, Informative)

    by mlawmlaw (250413)
    The $150 charge is only for those that get a new tivo unit at $150 off the reg price. So if you buy one, then decide that you don't want to continue the contract, then they can impose any penality they wish. IMHO, their penality is not bad at all, considering you bought the hardward at a discount.

    Second, buy a lifetime contract. I have three tivos, all with lifetime contracts. For $299, the service is available for the life of the unit. And that doesn't mean that once the HD fails you are out. You can
  • Who are these slashdot readers who are getting paid so poorly that they can't afford $299 up-front

    That would be those of us still in college, or recently graduated doing the proverbial "grunt work" of the IT world like Helpdesk untill better stuff comes along.

    But don't sweat it my man, us poor folk run linux+Myth, have unprotected mpeg2 (or 4) files of everything, and can with a few taps back it up to DVDs, and oh yea, program guides and timeshifting for NO CHARGE EVER - so who is the sucker now?

    What

  • by mmeister (862972) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @10:41PM (#13641962)
    I'm not sure why people are freaking out over this. This is tied to the $150 rebate they offer and it looks like it works just like the cellphone plans. You get a phone for $49, but are required to stay with their service for 2 years. Oh wait, Tivo isn't requiring a 2-year commitment.

    You're getting the $199 Tivo for $49 and are bitching that it is linked to a 1-year minimum contract. So you bitch about a $199 box and tell Tivo they should make it cheaper. They figure out a way to absorb the cost only to have you bitch about that.

    P.S. Yes, I realize all the DRM crap Tivo is pulling -- but as far as I can tell, it is unrelated to the rebate/service agreement setup they've got going.
  • Options (Score:4, Informative)

    by danFL-NERaves (302440) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @11:26PM (#13642191)
    There are other options to the TiVo box, If you are sitting on the fence about getting a DVR you may want to check out these other options.

    Commercial Products and Services:

    ReplayTV [digitalnetworksna.com]: TiVo's ancient nemesis, it also 'just works'. I can't say whether it is more user friendly than TiVo, but it is far more customer friendly.

    Windows XP Media Center Edition [microsoft.com]: Yes, them. Choose from multiple manufacturers but expect to face Microsoft Corp's version of the 'personal' computing experience.

    Hardware vendors are now pushing DVD/HD Recording devices quite a bit. RCA [rcaaudiovideo.com], Motorola [motorola.com] and Panasonic have products available.

    Service Providers like Comcast [comcast.com] and DishTV [dishtv.com] are now providing time shifting hardware and tv-on-demand solutions. Check with your choice of cable or satellite service provider.

    Hobbyist Solutions:

    MythTV [mythtv.org]: The Open Source, Do-It-Yourself DVR. Expect to build your own machine and play around a bit before it works the way you want. (Linux)

    Freevo [sourceforge.net]: MythTV, but not. (Linux)

    MediaPortal [sourceforge.net]: Who ever said Open Source was limited to Linux software? (Windows)

    Meedio [meedio.com]: It was a community based freeware product (myHTPC) that morphed into a commercial product without warning. Still a reasonable alternative to Microsoft for PVR function on the Windows platform. (Windows)

    eyeTV [elgato.com]: This Mac product has me seriously considering picking up a Mini-Mac to use as a media center [engadget.com]. (Apple)

    SnapStream [snapstream.com] (Windows)

    SageTV [www.sage.tv] (Windows)

    Chris-TV [chris-tv.com] (Windows)

    ShowShifter [showshifter.com] (Windows)

    On a personal note, I purchased the ReplayTV when it was first released and am entirely satisfied with it. Plus, by purchasing early I have never had to pay a subscription fee for data that is freely available elsewhere. If there had been a subscription fee I would not have purchased it.

    Dan

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