TiVo’s Not-So-Lifetime Service: Where do TiVos go to die?
October 11, 2014 - Tech
In the 12+ years that I have been using TiVo, I’ve never really had a problem with the company until yesterday.
I am the owner of three Product Lifetime Services (PLS), and I wanted to get one of their new Roamio models so that I could use my TiVo not just as DVR, but to also replace my cable box (and thus, not be charged for renting out a cable box every month by Comcast/Time-Warner).
My plan was to transfer two of my three lifetime services from two TiVo Series 2 boxes (which cannot be used as cable boxes) over to the new Roamios I planned on purchasing.
When I called in to TiVo customer support to inquire how I would be able to transfer my lifetime service to a new Roamio box, I was informed by the customer service agent that I couldn’t; that “lifetime” according to TiVo, was for the lifetime of the machine, and not the user.
That makes sense when you think about the plan, but I’m certain that promoting it the service as “lifetime” has confused and angered more than one loyal Tivo user expecting to move their fairly expensive “lifetime service” from an older TiVo to a newer one. Basically, if you have an old TiVo with PLS, or it dies, you’re stuck with it.
Lifetime service isn’t cheap; one has to pony up anywhere from $400 to $500 for just one license. So with my three lifetime services, I’ve paid no less than $1300 for my three TiVos. I explained to the agent that I have made a significant investment to TiVo, was a loyal TiVo user for over a dozen years, and even owned some of their stock.
I’m someone that knows that if you push hard enough, companies will make concessions to their users. Rarely do I come across a company that won’t make an exception. I knew that I wasn’t going to get anywhere, so I gave up.
So what to do with an older TiVo DVR with lifetime service prepaid? Your only choice is to sell it. Luckily, there’s a market for working boxes with lifetime subscription already paid. A popular TiVo site, Weaknees, sells refurbished Tivos with lifetime service for hundreds of dollars, but you probably won’t get that much.
There’s an niched aftermarket for those that want to use TiVo in their RVs.
I checked out eBay, but the selling price was inconsistent on the couple listings I followed — Series 2 boxes sold anywhere from as low as $26 to as high as $200. If you want recoup some of the money you spent on a TiVo + PLS, then I suggest posting it on Craigslist – I was able to sell my TiVos for ~$140 per unit. Good luck.