In the early part of this century (or millennium, however you want to style it - around the year 2000, dammit), I purchased a TiVo. At the time, I was a hardcore television junkie. I wrote in a previous blog how watching television is a like a second job (the average American watches 34 hours of TV per week), and I was a textbook example. I spent a lot of time wrestling with video cassettes, setting timers, screaming bloody murder when I accidentally recorded over something I hadn't watched yet...
For me, TiVo was almost like the second coming. It could record tons of shows, I could watch them in any order I wanted, I could get a "season pass" and record every episode of a program - it even learned my preferences and recorded things it thought I would enjoy. Frankly speaking, within weeks I was wondering how I had ever lived without it. (Had that uncultured, uncivilized Neanderthal with the VCR and box full of VHS tapes truly been me?)
Fast-forward a decade-and-half: TiVo and I are still going strong, a powerful and graceful symbiosis of man and machine. And then the rug gets yanked out from under me: TiVo is being bought by entertainment company Rovi. The buyout in and of itself wasn't terrible news - companies get bought and sold all the time. However, what almost sent me into a raving fit was the fact that the combined company is no longer going to support the TiVo Series 1 (which, as you might guess, is the series I own).
Apparently, Rovi's current software won't run on the Series 1, which is the first generation of TiVo devices. Adding insult to injury is the fact that, when I bought the thing, I paid like $200 for the Tivo "Lifetime" service (referring to the Tivo subscription service that provides software updates, scheduling info, and so on). Granted that 15+ years is certainly a long time, it doesn't quite meet the definition of "lifetime" in my opinion - not when both I and my TiVo are alive and kicking. And make no mistake: my TiVo still works.
As you can imagine, I'm a little PO'd about the entire situation, as are plenty of other TiVo owners. To give them credit, TiVo has attempted to mollify the masses by giving us $75 gift cards (which I have yet to receive, mind you). Taking that into consideration, I'm sure someone will say that I should be satisfied. After all, bearing in mind the value of the gift card, it would mean that over a fifteen-year period I spent $125 for service that regularly costs like $15/month. But I'm not satisfied, dammit. I paid for Lifetime service; I want the effin' Lifetime service! Like the guy in the Xfinity commercial below, I believe that if you sell a product or service, it should work:
Basically, if you sell a lifetime service, it needs to work - and be available - for a lifetime. Not a day, not a year, not a decade. A lifetime. Can you imagine the response I'd have gotten if our situations were reversed? If I had called up TiVo a year ago and said, "Hey, I'm not going to be using my TiVo any more - I've unplugged it and now use it as a paperweight. Can I get a refund on the balance of that Lifetime service contract - say, $75?" They would have told me to eff off, that a deal's a deal, and then suggested that I perform an anatomically impossible act upon myself.
See, those mother-bleeping bleep-sucking, mother-bleepers would have demanded that I honor our deal, so I'd be within my rights to demand no less of them. I expect corporations to exhibit the same level of integrity that I expect from natural persons. Still, it's probably not worth wrangling over legally (although I could see a class action lawsuit arising out of this). It'll just have to be enough that I never buy another TiVo/Rovi product again. Of course, I had the same mindset with respect to the lack of backwards compatibility for the Playstation 4, initially saying that I'd never own one and later breaking down. Somewhat. (My wife bought it for me. What was I supposed to do, tell her it was a terrible gift???)
In short, while I know I should never say "never," at the moment I feel that the odds of me ever buying anything from them again are somewhere between slim and none. And, as they used to say in the old days, slim's outta town...