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Saturday September 16, 2006 3:47 pm

TiVo Lying To VIP Customers About Series3 Orders

TiVo Series3 LiesYou know how TiVo released the new Series3 DMR on it’s site a few days ago, apparently allowing people to get their hands on one earlier than they would be able to get one at retail? Oh, and the whole “if you buy direct from TiVo, then you can transfer an older lifetime subscription for $199”? It turns out TiVo has seemingly duped us all on both fronts and more.

So-called TiVo “VIPs” placed their orders for their Series3 units with the knowledge that they would be getting the units earlier, and that it was the only way to transfer a lifetime subscription. Nice service to offer to your most loyal of customers. However, the fiasco that followed has nothing nice about it. Get the full scoop after the jump.

So, when you place your order through the TiVo VIP site, you are told that it could take up to 48 hours from the time of order to the time of shipment. Fine, it’s a new product launch, and orders take time to process. We get that. TiVo also promised that as soon as the order shipped, the buyer would receive an email confirming that it went out, followed by another email with tracking information. The 48-hour wait began.

However, 48 hours later people started calling TiVo to get their order status, as TiVo is notorious for sending them out days after a unit has been received. Apparently, no customer service representative had a clear answer on order status. Some people were told their order had in fact shipped. Some were told that 1000 units shipped. Others were told that the orders - every single one - would be going out that evening. That was September 14. However, late in the evening on the 14th, every TiVo VIP who ordered a Series3 received the following email:

Dear TiVo Customer,

Thank you for your TiVo Store purchase. Unfortunately, due to excessive order volumes for the TiVo Series3 HD Digital Media Recorder, your shipment has been delayed. We will be refunding all shipping charges to your account. The credit should post to your account within 3-7 business days.

Please be assured we will be shipping your order no later than Friday, 9/15/06. You will receive a shipment confirmation email with the tracking information at that time. We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused. In the meantime, if you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at (877) 367-8486.

Best regards,

TiVo Customer Support

Um - “excessive order volumes”? As one member of the TiVo Community forums stated:

who worded that letter?

what is with the “excessive orders”?

just comes of as rude- like we all are jerks who did something wrong.

excuse me for excessively ordering at the tivo store. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never had a vendor tell me my purchases with them were excessive.

Fine - a delay of another day. So instead of 48 hours, it would be 60. However, this actually meant a delay of another two days, because instead of getting a delivery on Friday as most has expected (and as most had scheduled their CableCARD installations around,) the packages would now be received on Monday, as TiVo doesn’t do Saturday delivery.

This is where things start getting interesting. People start reporting that they have purchased their Series3 units at local Fry’s and Best Buy stores, before they are supposed to be available. What’s more? They are able to transfer their old lifetime subscriptions without a hitch, and some even used 10% off coupons! So, as it turns out, the only advantage you have as being a TiVo VIP purchaser is a longer wait time to receive your unit - at a higher price.

When the end of the next business day ended with no one receiving a shipping notification, people started calling TiVo to find out what was up. It seems customer service was prepared to say just about anything to get people off the phone. Here are a few good ones:

I wanted to know whether my order was shipped, so as Tivo told me yesterday to call today and ask about the tracking number and so on. The first person I spoke to about my order, told me that my order showed as being placed on 9/14/06 not on 9/12/06 (which is what shows on the e-mail with my order information). Of course I argue with him about the date as I placed the order on Tuesday around lunchtime. He tells me to hold on, then he finally comes back and tells me yes the order was placed on the 12th. So, my next question is was it shipped out yet? He tells me yes it was shipped out yesterday, and I should have it today. So, I asked will I be credited the shipping charge. He says “No”. I’m like…fine whatever I just want my S3… I then asked him for a tracking number, I get put on hold…and guess what…about 3 minutes later I get disconnected. I Love being a VIP.

Anyway, I of course call back….now just a little pissed for more than one reason. I get someone else…who checks my order, tells me it shows that it was placed on the 9th. He explains to me about the shipping issues, which I am already aware of. He then tells me the unit will ship out today, I will be credited the shipping charges for overnight, and he is not sure if I will get it tommorrow via UPS or Monday. He tells me I will get an email when it is shipped out with a tracking number, but he has no way to tell me what that is at this point. I understand that part.

I wonder if I call back one more time what I will be told…. /sigh

Another confused service rep:

Because I enjoy it so much, I just called in again to see what they’d tell me:

  • Randy told me that my order shipped today (Friday).
  • I asked Randy what on her screen told her it had shipped today, she said she was basing it on the fact that I had ordered it Tuesday.
  • I asked if she actually had anything at all that definitely told her that my order had shipped.
  • She said no, just the order date/time.
  • I asked her if anything had shipped yesterday (Thursday).
  • She said she didn’t think so.
  • I asked if there was anyone there who would know, maybe a supervisor. She went to ask.
  • She said her supervisor said nothing shipped yesterday and that today’s shipments would be the first ones.
  • I asked if everything ordered Tuesday would ship today.
  • She said they would ship as many units as possible, but there was no guarantee.
  • I asked if my order would definitely ship today. She said they’d try, but it might not. This, after initially telling me my order had shipped.

And finally - the conspiracy theory:

We have been waiting for 3 days without any word from TiVo as to what in the heck happened that caused all of our orders not to ship. Now we get TiVoPony stating that they are sorry and are working hard to fulfill the orders. No Explaination of what happened.

My mind is going “Black Helicopter”

I originally thought that the “Big Box” stores (BB,CC, Fry’s) wouldn’t even have the S3 available until the week of 9/17. That plus the “VIP” program made me decide to order direct from tivo.com

Then on Tuesday afternoon I see posts from many people who state that they are buying from all the “Big Box” stores already.

CONSPIRACY THEORY (listen for the chopper rotors)

Could it be possible that the “Big Box” stores who originally weren’t selling the S3 till next week were suddenly short on stock by Wednesday morning.

If I was TiVo and my biggest sellers asked me for more stock to sell in their stores This Weekend (7/16-7/17) I would be sending pallets to them ASAP.

Now, what if the only available stock TiVo had readily available on hand until Friday (7/15) was sitting in a Warehouse in Forth Worth, TX.

Would TiVo short it’s most rabid fans, who they are already cutting a deal with, to insure your Big Sellers don’t have empty shelves this weekend?

I would in a Heartbeat.

Rabid fans would complain mightly, but would eventually deal with it in the end.

No S3 on store shelves means low sales.

You can read even more of these at the understandably long thread over at TiVo Community.

It is now a full four days after initial TiVo Series3 units were ordered through the TiVo.com site. Hundreds of people have purchased units at retail, and have transferred lifetime subscriptions - something that was to be reserved only for VIP customers. Still, four days later, no VIP customer order has shipped. Of course, TiVo doesn’t tell you this unless you call a representative and press for a tracking number. Otherwise, you are in the dark on this. Oh, and since TiVo doesn’t ship with a requirement for a signature at delivery, the $800 Series3 will sit at your front door unless you stay home - every day - until it is delivered. Of course, TiVo is no help, as each time someone calls a TiVo representative, they are given a totally different story.

Did TiVo send the Series3 units that were reserved and paid for by VIPs to retail chains to fill inventory, knowing full well that this fiasco would happen? Why the vagueness? Why doesn’t anyone in customer service - including managers - have a clue what is going on with the shipment of the Series3 units? Why does it take so long for one to be mailed out?

TiVo - you have some questions to answer.

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