Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Epic Saga of TiVo Woe

When my ex and I divorced, he got custody of the TiVo. This was right and proper, as it had been his idea to get it and he had paid for it. I missed having one, but not enough to get one of my own... until recently.

So began my so-far futile attempts at TiVo ownership.

The best way to get a TiVo, in my opinion, is to get a slightly used one with a lifetime subscription attached. The membership stays with the TiVo unit, not the purchaser, so if someone has recently decided to upgrade to a newer version, a buyer can catch a good deal. If you get one without a subscription, you have to either pay a recurring subscription fee or buy your own lifetime subscription. Thus to eBay did I go. I found what I thought was a good deal-- a series 2 TiVo with lifetime subscription. So a little old, but fine for my purposes. It arrived quickly and safely, and I discovered that... I needed a cable.

Once I got the cable, I discovered that... I needed a wireless USB adaptor.

Once I got the wireless USB adaptor, I discovered that... the TiVo actually did NOT have a lifetime subscription.


I contacted the seller and requested to return the TiVo for a refund, in spite of the stated no-returns policy. After all, he hadn't described the item accurately. He was outraged (at TiVo, not me), because he had paid for a lifetime subscription. I sent it back post-haste (he paid return shipping), and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Finally, after several emails of the "Hey, where's my replacement and/or refund" variety, the guy plopped my money back into my Paypal account.

So I found another auction. This one was for a series 1, but it had a much larger hard drive and supposedly a lifetime membership. I bought it.

I learned something new when it arrived.

See, Series 1 TiVos don't have USB. They only have phone modems.

We don't have a landline phone. We use our cell phones for everything.

And TiVo modems, it seems, do not cooperate with Magic Jack.


So now I'm stuck with this TiVo which is utterly useless to me. After stubbing my toes on it a few times while it sat on my living room floor mocking me with its uselessness, I decided to try to resell it. Undoubtedly it would be at a loss, because I can't confirm whether or not it has a lifetime subscription, but at least I could make something back, right?

I placed an ad on Craigslist.

I received four responses.

Two of them asked if it was still available, and then never responded again when I emailed back to tell them it was.

One of them asked if it was still available, and then had the audacity to place my email address on a spam list when I emailed back to tell him it was still available.

The fourth one was a scammer-- that sort of scammer who uses a phony bank check or money order to pay--never mind that I had specified cash-only from the beginning. Here's his email:

I really appreciate your response to my email.I want you to consider it sold, pls do withdraw the advert from craigslist to avoid disturbance.I want you to know that i will be paying via bank certified check or money order .I will like you to provide me with the following,information to facilitate the mailing of the payment to you ...Full name to write on the payment instrument 2.....Full Physical address to post the payment 3.....City, State and Zip Code. 4..... Cell Phone to contact you

*** Note that the payment will be shiped to your address via Courier NEXT DAY SERVICE and I will like you to know that you will not be responsible for shipping i will have my mover come over as soon as you have cashed the payment**

Yeah, sure, dude. I'm a snopester, dammit! I know all about people like you!

I did take Mr. Scammer's advice (granted, "he" may really be a "she," but the undoubtedly false name the person used was John Wortford) to pull the ad down from Craigslist, however. I've got it up on eBay now. At least over there I have Paypal to protect me from scammers! I figure that if I specify that I wasn't able to verify whether or not it has a lifetime subscription, I'm an honest seller and therefore protected.

Besides which, putting "Probable Lifetime Subscription" in the title might attract some curiosity, which will lead to more views, and thus more potential buyers! Because let's face it, it's probably not too common for a reseller of TiVos to actually admit that they don't know whether the unit has a subscription or not.

As for my own TiVo needs, I have another series 2 unit on its way--one that was cheap because it specifically does not have a subscription attached. This time I'm buying the subscription myself. I'm taking my TiVo destiny into my own hands and pulling myself up by my own TiVo bootstraps!


Ellen said...

I received this same email from John Wortford. I thought it was a little sketchy so when I googled his name, your blog came up! Thank you so much for saving me from that scam

Tirithien said...

Amazing how people still fall for that scam. It doesn't take but a quick Google search and some common sense to avoid it.

Anonymous said...

It used to work out cheaper to go to tivo.com and buy the box from them if you're not getting lifetime service attached. A new S2DT worked out to like $50. But I guess they stopped those offers now that they are selling lifetime subscriptions normally, again.

Right now, tivo.com has a new S2DT selling for $150. Guess I shouldn't have given my old one away. D'oh!

Anyhow, another alternative for the Series 1 TiVo is to keep it and add TurboNet. Then you can plug it into any ethernet wired network and it'll config itself from DHCP. http://www.9thtee.com/turbonet.htm

Bainwen Gilrana said...

Thank you for the ideas, but the superfluous TiVo sold on eBay, so I'm rid of it.