TiVo saga fixed (for now)

As many of you know I’ve had quite a fun time getting my TiVo Premiere working with Time Warner Cable. The process started on June 15th when Time Warner came out to install the CableCARD and tuning adapter but they brought a bad CableCARD. After MANY visits and calls, a tech came out on July 3rd with a working CableCARD. This lasted 1 week! When there was a storm and we lost power at the house briefly, enough to reboot everything. From that point on the tuning adapter wouldn’t work. On Tuesday July 13th, they had a tech at my house for THREE HOURS only to determine that I had a bad tuning adapter 🙂 This
when the shit hit the fan.

Wednesday evening my neighbor, who works for Time Warner as an installer, asked me why I had 2 trucks at my house. I explained to him and he was appalled at the incompetence. He asked for my account number and said he’d take care of things for me. Thursday morning I got a call from Bob @ Time Warner Cable, apparently one of the ‘big guys’ in the Raleigh office. He apologized profusely, said there was ‘opportunity for improvement’ and that he’d have a guy at my house TODAY with a tuning adapter instead of Saturday. After lunch my neighbor calls saying ‘I’ve got a brand new tuning adapter for you. I’ll install it when I get home’. Meanwhile, at 2pm I get a TWC truck roll up to the house. I ask him why he’s here (since my neighbor has the job in his queue). The tech said, I was told to get up here ASAP because you need a tuning adapter. YAY! for communication. Either I get no service or I get superb service. I sent the tech away since I knew my neighbor would take care of things PROPERLY.

That evening my neighbor shows up with a nice new tuning adapter, we plug it in. Let it provision itself, test, reboot tuning adapter, retest and IT WORKS! Finally after a week we get a working tuning adapter.

So how long does it take to install a TiVo with Time Warner? Let’s see it by the numbers:

  • one month
  • 7 tech visits
  • 9 truck rolls
  • 2 CableCARDs
  • 2 tuning adapters
  • 4 consumer group complaints (NC DOJ, BBB, FCC, WRAL 5 on your side)

If you are planning on getting a TiVo which despite my experience is an AWESOME DVR! My advice to you is be patient and persistent.
Check back next week to see if I start the process again.

Now it’s getting personal

On Saturday July 10th, I called Time Warner tech support to debug a switched digital video problem. After a reboot message was sent, I was transferred to TiVo support. TiVo walked me through a few things and determined that I needed a new tuning adapter. I call Time Warner again, but switched to online chat to avoid the 20 minute hold time. Here’s a
snippet of the transcript:

jesus_:    I called tech support earlier today
jesus_:    they sent a reboot signal to it
jesus_:    then forwarded me to TiVo tech support
jesus_:    we spent about an hour on the phone trying various reboots and disconnections
jesus_:    none worked.
jesus_:    TiVo support said I needed a new tuning adapter. and I contacted the TWCableHelp folks on twitter.com
jesus_:    they said the Raleigh office said I needed a service call to have a tech come out *WITH* a tuning adapter
Shayne Norway:    I apologize for the inconvenience.
Shayne Norway:    I would be happy to assist you.
Shayne Norway:    Yes, that is correct a service call is needed.
jesus_:    so that's what I want to do. I want to have a tech come out with a tuning adapter (please don't send out a tech without one that has happened 3 times already when I was having CableCARD issues).
jesus_:    CableCARD seems to be working (thankfully)
Shayne Norway:    I can arrange a technician to visit your place on Monday  between 1 pm to 3 pm. Will that work for you?
jesus_:    I prefer mornings, but if that is the earliest that is fine.
Shayne Norway:    That is earliest possible.
Shayne Norway:    Can I book it?
jesus_:    yes
jesus_:    Please ensure that he bring a tuning adapter. I don't want a repeat of the CableCARD fiasco.
Shayne Norway:    Yes, I have mentioned a note on your account.

Turns out the appointment was scheduled for TUESDAY not Monday as the above states. So I lost the afternoon, but got a credit for that miscommunication.
Today (Tuesday) tech #6 shows up WITHOUT a tuning adapter, spends 3 hours! Trying everything he could to make up for the fact that he
didn’t have a tuning adapter. He even called in a maintenance tech to look at the line that comes to the street (before it comes in to my house). He finally determined that my
tuning adapter is bad. NO SHIT SHERLOCK I ALREADY TOLD YOU GUYS THIS! Next available appointment? SATURDAY!

I tried to get a credit for the rest of the week but Time Warner’s systems don’t allow that, so I have to wait until Saturday to get service credit for the whole week.
Time to update my BBB, NCDOJ, and FCC complaints with the latest news.

Time Warner Cable on BBB

Time Warner Cable on BBB
This totally explains why I’ve had such horrible success getting TWC to get my
TiVo installation right 🙂

And yet the HQ office has a completely different rating. If the guys behind
TWCableHelp on twitter work for NYC then I can see how they get an A+. Those
guys are the most helpful.


After almost two years since I first complained about the Time Warner Cable DVR, I made the switch to a TiVo Premiere on my birthday on June 9th. The TiVo gives me 45 hours of HD content, access to Netflix streaming without to use the Blu-ray disc in my PS3. TiVo has a much better search feature as well and access to Amazon Video on Demand.

What do I lose? I don’t get access to any of the two-way content from Time Warner i.e. the On Demand channels, and the guy on the phone said I don’t get access to premium channels either, which is ok since I never had them on my account anyway.

The best part is how complicated Time Warner made getting the TiVo up and running using their service. In order to work, the TiVo requires a CableCARD and a tuning adapter for the switch digital video used by Time Warner and other cable companies. I called Time Warner on June 10th to schedule an install.

On June 15th, Time Warner sent out a technician to install the CableCARD and the tuning adapter. He showed up with a dented CableCARD, one that looked like it had been at the bottom of a parts bin and a tuning adapter. The tech rearranged the splitters outside and checked the signal strength, all looked good. Then he installed the adapter and card. The tuning adapter was solid green and seemed to be properly setup. But I couldn’t get any of my channels. If we removed the CableCARD, we’d instantly get basic cable. The tech said I’d need a new card and he didn’t have any more. He had to scrounge just to get the one he brought with him. So after 3 hours I still didn’t have a working TiVo.

On June 19th, another tech came out. When he arrived he said ‘I hear you need a tuning adapter’. I replied, ‘um no I need a CableCARD, the tuning adapter is fine’. The tech didn’t have one so he left after 5 minutes. He called his supervisor and rescheduled another install.

My only thought is that Time Warner does this on purpose to keep people from buying third party equipment and locking them in to the cable companies DVRs. But it doesn’t make much sense since they’re still getting the service fee and still keep folks as customers.

Then on June 22nd, while I was on vacation, I got a voicemail stating Time Warner was coming back out. Obviously I wasn’t home to answer so they put down on my account that no one was home and didn’t reschedule. So three visits and still no working TiVo.

Could this get any worse? Let’s see. On June 30th, after returning from vacation, I stopped by the local Time Warner office (right up the street) to ask for a CableCARD. I was told they are not allowed to hand them out. The customer service lady was kind enough to schedule yet another install. I made sure she noted that I needed a *new* CableCARD. Everything was setup for Friday July 2nd.

It is now July 2nd, the tech shows up between 2 and 4 pm. He comes in tells me he heard I’ve got a problem with my CableCARD. I said actually I need a new one. So the tech tries to debug my current one. When he asks if it ever worked I replied ‘NO, that’s why I told the customer service person that I needed a NEW one.’ This tech didn’t bring one either. When my wife, Liz, found out she was livid. Asked him why he was even here. The tech said he’d email his supervisor (go figure).

After the 4th tech left, I called their 800 number and was put on hold. So I got fed up and went to the interwebs. I tweeted to @TWCableHelp that the 4th installer showed up without a CableCARD.

Within about 20 minutes I got a reply from @TWCableHelp that they have contacted the local NC office and getting someone on it. Saturday morning at 8:30am (July 3rd), I got a call from Time Warner tech asking if someone would be home in the afternoon. Then he called back at 11am to see if he could come over now since he was ahead of schedule. Josh, the fifth tech, showed up WITH a CableCARD! WOO HOO! Finally. Ten minutes later I had channels on my TiVo including my HD channels using the tuning adapter. Everything was working! Clearly Josh knew what he was doing.

If you have any problems with Time Warner I suggest you reach out to the helpful folks on twitter. They ROCK!