How the Grinch(Comcast and TiVo) Stole Christmas

So it was a brisk Sunday morning and we were preparing to emark on the annual Family Christmas trek when we discovered our venerable TiVo Series 3 HD was dead. I checked online for parts to fix it but quickly found that it was cheaper to buy a new TiVo Premiere.  I ordered it online to be delivered to the store on Monday. I picked it up and dropped by the local Comcast office to pick up a new cablecard which is required for these devices. Everything was done (including my Christmas shopping for my wife) in a half hour. I should have realized that it would all come crashing down quickly.

Monday night calling to get the cablecard paired, usually this takes about an hour or so. After nearly two hours I called back and got told that it now takes 24-72 hours. (WHAT?!?!) But it got escalated. The card seemed to get paired but nothing worked. First heard on this call that there is a problem with Tivo Premiere in Jacksonville. (Not globally with Comcast..just in Jacksonville).  Basically told that they had no idea when it would be resolved.

On Tuesday I exchanged the cablecard (just in case it was bad) and scheduled a tech call.  I waited all day until he arrived after 5pm. He first decided that the cable signal was too high and he put a splitter on the line to reduce the signal. Then he reconnected the cable to the TiVo and called to get the new card paired.  When that didn’t work, he got a card out of his truck, no joy there either and then he too was told there was an issue in Jacksonville with pairing cablecards for Tivo Premiere. He left promsing to have the area supervisor for Comcast in Jacksonville Call me the next day.   After he leaves I am checking Tivo Documents about troubleshooting the connection and find that he connected the cable to the wrong connector on the back of the Tivo. The device wasn’t even receiving messages from the cable at all, he wasted an hour and a half of my time, his time, and everyone he talkked to on the phone at Comcast.

Wednesday,  no call from the supervisor. I call him at his office at 11am and leave a message. At 2pm I call his cellphone and he answers. Says he got busy. Tells me that there is some issue and he will have the engineer call me.

Thursday, no calls from anyone. We talk to various Comcast reps several promise to get information and call back..none do. 

Friday Christmas Eve, I leave a message for the Area Supervisor, he doesn’t return my call but he is probably off for the holiday.  I call the TiVo cablecard hotline for assistance. This call doesn’t start well, after describing my efforts he actually says “I’m not sure what I can do for you.” I tell him “I’m not sure what to do with that answer.”  Eventually he decides he will make a threeway call to get to the bottom of this “Jacksonville” problem that no one there at the hotline knows about.  He makes a three way call and we get on with a representative in Atlanta who says she will try to send signals to the card to get it to work, but if it doesn’t she will transfer us to Jacksonville. 35 minutes of silence later I realize that one or the other of the parties has disconnected, I’m still on the phone but no one else is. The TiVo remains broken.

Later we call the local office again and get someone who says she sees an email from the CableCard department that the supervisor is going to call us with  information because the issue is with TiVo (doubful since my other Premiere was paired fine weeks ago). The email was dated on Monday..four days ago. Of course the supervisor is away for the holiday now and won’t be back until monday.

Frustrated now with TiVo and Comcast I’ve filed an FCC complaint which I’m sure is a waste of time but I have had no luck getting anywhere and today I wish I had never had the misfortune of hearing of either Comcast or TiVo.

Jerry Sutton

I am, at heart, a software developer though I am currently managing a small Information Technology department for a mid sized company located in my hometown of Jacksonville, FL. When I am not playing with the latest smart-phone or trying to become inspired to write code I read almost anything I can get my hands on from Pulp Era adventures to biographies of world leaders and everything in between.