A while back I ranted about Audible.com making account cancellation difficult. Well, our friends over at Tivo are no better.

After browsing around their "customer service" site it became apparent that they were more than willing to take more of my money on-line, but heaven forbid they let me cancel service.

Instead I found a page that explains that I must call Tivo to arrange for that. Nowhere on the page do they provide justification for this inconvenience, of course.

Sill me. I thought the web was going to improve customer service, not make it more difficult to perform an otherwise simple task.

And don't even get me started on the IVR system you have to get thru before speaking to a human.

Amusingly, when I cancelled and told 'em I sold my Tivo, they asked if I "sold it locally or on eBay." Yeah, as if it's any of their damned business.

Posted by jzawodn at April 22, 2004 10:53 AM

Reader Comments
# saberworks said:

Re: Yeah, as if it's any of their damned business.

I went into a Great Clips hair cutting place the other day. They asked me for my phone number. Um, no? Then they asked me for my first and last name instead (so they could look me up in the phoen book?). Um, no?

They seriously refused to cut my hair unless I gave them my personal information. I said, "Okay, it works like this. You cut my hair. I hand you cash. Is that so hard?" I ended up leaving w/out a hair cut because they refused.

on April 22, 2004 11:17 AM
# Eric said:

Amen. I tried to cancel a while back. Like you, I didnt have my Tivo connected, which is normally how they deal with those things. Trying to get through their phone system was bad. REALLY bad. I thought Claire at SprintPCS was horrid, but no, their's is next to useless.

on April 22, 2004 11:27 AM
# Jeremy said:

So, TiVo sucks just because they make it hard to cancel an account?

That's like saying Yahoo! sucks because the Scoreboard feature on my My Yahoo! page will only display the games I track in EST. Your blog seems to be susceptible to lots of hyberole lately.

on April 22, 2004 11:45 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Did you not *READ* the other half of the title. You know, where it says "like audible.com"?

I guess not.

on April 22, 2004 11:53 AM
# quanta said:

TiVo isn't really alone with this...to cancel AOL, you have to hunt around their Billing helpfile for a phone number to call. Same for most magazines - you can subscribe online no problem, but cancelations? Forget it.

It's like programs that don't have uninstall wizards. Their marketers must have said, "Oooh, make it as difficult as possible for your customers to leave you! Then they will be more loyal than ever!"

on April 22, 2004 12:16 PM
# Darrell Golliher said:

We're I to guess I'd say they want you to call so they can try to keep you. It appears that more than one subscription service will offer you free product for a period of time in an attempt to keep you long term. I've known DirectTV and XM satellite to both offer several months of free service when you call to cancel. Kinda like with that credit card you mentioned not too long ago.

TiVo gave me no grief when I called to cancel. They began to ask questions, but stopped when they realized I was ditching my standalone tivo in favor of a DirecTivo. Had I been canceling because I'd been laid off and short of money, I suspect they too might have offered me some free service.

I can't blame them too much for making one last try to keep my business-- as long as they don't make the process completely obnoxious.

on April 22, 2004 12:34 PM
# jr said:

Ultimately, you're worth more than the services you ask for. I know of a lot of companies that operate on that principle. In the case of the hair cut, the money exchange only covers a part of the actual bill. For that, I tend to give them
1060 West Addison
Chicago, IL 60613
(I'm just in town for business)

Hey, if it's good enough for Jake and Elwood..

on April 22, 2004 12:54 PM
# TDavid said:

Jeremy, weren't you hacking up your TiVO box a few months back? (http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/000978.html) Did that not go over so well or something?

As for needing to call to cancel service, there are many companies that employ this annoying practice. AOL does this and so does Real to name two that come quickly to mind. I totally agree that these companies certainly have no problem taking your money online but cancel? No way! Somebody send in the medic to draw blood and get the family history.

Very anti-consumer!

on April 22, 2004 01:47 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Yes, I upgraded the drive from 18GB to 120GB.

But I really don't watch TV anymore, so there's little point in having it.

on April 22, 2004 01:53 PM
# Asa Bour said:


Let me know if you want to sell you Tivo. I am interested in getting one.


on April 22, 2004 02:12 PM
# cph said:

Glad to hear that I am not the only one who has had to deal with the Tivo customer service nightmare. Recently, in an effort to wean myself from West Wing, Daily Show and Alias addictions, decided to suspend my service for a few months. Spent 40 minutes on hold and then had to endure an endlessly persistent and obnoxiously nosy customer service rep before finally getting them to do what I wanted. Not a good way to build customer loyalty or positive word of mouth. The cancellation process is a powerful disincentive to re-subscribing.

on April 23, 2004 05:40 AM
# Ceilig said:

See, that's mildly annoying. That's not what really annoys me about TiVo (and really I do love the box and the service and all that crap. I find it helps me watch less TV and keep TV from interfering with my life).

What really annoys me is shelling out $350 for a TiVo and having it's hard drive die in 3 months. I do the good thing and search their web page for help. No help. I send an email, as they ask, to their customer service people. They say they can't help me in email, I have ot call. I call. I'm on hold 60 minutes. When I finally get throgh, they tell me that to fix it UNDER WARRANTY, it will cost me $99. Because apparently the parts are covered, but labor isn't covered under warranty.

1) So, because they bought cheap crappy hard drives, have to pay them to fix it?

2) Who the hell gets paid $99 to change out a hard drive?!

I suppose I'll do it myself, but, of course, that voids my warranty. I wonder if I can get them to send me the hard drive my warranty already pays for. :P

on April 23, 2004 08:45 AM
# JOE SMITH said:

No tv sucks because $300 for the giude is sad to say the least. I have a media center pc which is much better and has a free giude. Tivo is lame unless you have $300 to waste.

on December 5, 2004 10:57 AM
# John said:

READ , this will help!

I found an easy solution to all those doubleheaded snakes. Now, I only have about 3 subscriptions that billed my checkign account directly, and after caling them and going through a hassle and only 1 of the 3 could cancel my account easily, I decided to destroy my checking card and go to the bank next day telling them I lost it, so I got a new one and the other 2 companies that were too much a pain in the neck to cancel my subscriptions are behind me now. I wrote them several letters explainign what happened (on purpose since talking to them on the phone doesn t help). It looks like they never read my letters and are already threatening to take me to court, the only problem is my lawyer knows of all of this and I have physical evidence and proof and so does my lawyer that I am not being answered, only by their automated mailing systems and threats, so I am waiting for them to take me to court because my lawyer told me I already won the case, plus I am a foreigner and will press charges against the company for racism on top of the lack of costumer service and while me and my lawyer are waiting for this to happen I decided to let a few of you know that you can pay them back ! Every single one of you has the power to pay back the suffered time and costumer care of any major company, just sit down and think for a few hours how you can pay them back, that´s what I did and look, I got nothing more to loose :)

Good Luck !

on January 19, 2005 11:11 AM
# Jack said:

Well John, thank you for proving my point that when you can't win by reason or logic, you cry wolf - ie. racism. Yep. That'll do it. If I can't win in this crazy world, I'll just cry that the company, the police, the court, the manager, the businessperson, the salesman, the waiter, the bus driver, the cab driver, the paperboy, the mail carrier, or any other flawed human being is racist just because they didn't see things my way. You truly are an inspiration to humanity. Congratulations. Oh, by the way, try picking up a dictionary for those word-usage mistakes, there's a good boy. I guess I'm racist too because I have an opinion, right?

on March 1, 2005 07:18 PM
# Jack's mom said:

Wow Jack, it looks like the racial talk really touched you deep huh? I really don’t care about your repressed racist feelings my white friend… so let’s get back on track; I think we were talking about Tivo, weren’t we?

on November 7, 2005 12:52 PM
# LMH said:

I've tried three times to cancel my tivo account today. the first time i was on hold for 20 minutes. The second time I was "disconnected" after a transfer. The third (and current) time I have been on hold for over 35 minutes.


on December 5, 2006 06:00 PM
# Ricolator said:

Just got off the phone with TiVO and come to the conclusion that they are more concern about taking money then customer service. I tried to cancel with in the 30 days as the contracts states. But the agent talked me into staying and trying this and that. After finding out it will not work with my Vontage Phone service. They said we will hook you up with tech support and they will fix it. I was transfered and lost, called back several times to just be placed on indefinte hold. I would have to pay $200.00 to cancel and I would have to pay that right now or stay in contract until Nov at 21.57 /month for 10 months and then I would still have to call to cancel the service it will not end, even if there is no contract. I can't believe that they do this. I will never give a good report about TiVo service, I think I am call my news station and try to get this out in the public eye.

on January 22, 2007 09:25 AM
# chris kobesko said:

I have been on hold for 2 hours and 10 minutes to attempt to cancel TIVO and still waiting.

on January 28, 2008 10:10 AM
# Tim said:

Yes, I had Tivo a while back and it worked well, but they are extremely hard nosed and unkind to customers. So...goodbye Tivo.
I just built my own Linux DVR called MythTV. You get a TV card for your computer and you install MythBuntu and voila you have your own FREE dvr. You can add more hard drive, connect it to the internet or whatever you want. Just google MythBuntu or MythTV. I won't lie, it's not easy to setup, but well well worth it. Education is freedom.

on February 15, 2010 01:59 PM
# Scott said:

A fair warning about TiVo and why TiVo sucks.
Short version: I paid for a lifetime subscription. TiVo cancelled my account, claimed I called and cancelled, and claimed they credited my account. I never called and cancelled my account and they never issued a credit to my credit card. Now I have a useless TiVo machine with no service and I'm out over $300.
Details: I used to always brag about TiVo and have purchased 6 TiVo machines. I have been a TiVo customer for years and currently have three TiVo boxes "running." I have to put quotes around running since TiVo took it upon themselves to turn off one of them, which I paid a lifetime subscription for. I received and email warning and I emailed back to TiVo and even attached screenshot showing I had a lifetime subscription and never received any response. The proceeded to shut off my box. I then had the pleasure of calling TiVo. Should you ever call them, be prepared to be on hold forever. After giving up on two previous occasions, I finally planned my day around it and was able to get through after about 20 minutes of being on hold. The customer service representative was less than helpful. He claimed I called and cancelled my account, which I had not. I explained I had a lifetime subscription and he insisted I cancelled my account and claimed my credit card was credited. My credit card was never credited and I explained that. He then claimed their records showed they issued me a credit and he blamed my credit card company and said I had to take it up with them.
I called my credit card company and they confirmed I never received a credit from TiVo.
I got online with TiVo, which still took about 30 minutes to get a representative. The guy looked at my account and agreed something did not look correct; however, he would have to send it to a supervisor to look at. Even though he did absolutely nothing to rectify the problem, except pass it along, he seemed helpful. He told me someone would call me and I asked if they would leave a message with a number I could call back without being on hold forever, since I don't answer calls I don't recognize, since they're oftentimes sales calls. He said they would leave a number that was a direct line. Did they ever call and so much as leave a message? No.
Bottom line: TiVo can take your money, claim you cancelled, claim they refunded your money, and leave you with a useless TiVo box and out hundreds of dollars. But they'll make sure they wait a few months, so you don't even have recourse with your credit card company. TiVo SUCKS.

on May 6, 2010 06:44 PM
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