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DirecTV DVR -- Don't Do It

Mike SteffanosMonday, August 28, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Because my cable system in Connecticut is one of those who doesn't carry SNY, I switched to DirecTV. Other than losing signal for a few minutes here and there when it rains hard, and the fact that the installer drilled through my phone line while setting up the satellite and never showed up to fix it, I haven't had complaints with the service. I did do one thing I regret, however.

I took them up on the offer to get a free DVR unit for a 2-year commitment to the service. A friend of mine had the DVR and loved it. Unfortunately, what I didn't know was that the unit he had, which utilizes the TIVO service, was replaced by a new unit, the DVR-R15. I'm 48 years old, and have always embraced technology, but I will state unequivocally that this DVR unit is the worst piece of technology I ever owned. The first one had to be replaced after 2 months use, and now I have been experiencing almost identical problems with the replacement. Basically, it started screwing up everything I tried to record until it finally stopped working completely. I've talked to other people who've had the same problems, and found more in on-line forums. It tends to affect people that use the DVR to record many programs more than those who use it occasionally, but I have this funny thing where I actually like to use something that I pay my good money for.

The Tech Support guy was helpful, and we got it going again -- but only after having to wipe out all of the programs I had saved. Meanwhile, my brother has a Panasonic DVR that hasn't given him an ounce of trouble. I wanted the one from DirecTV because I like the ability to record 2 programs at the same time. However, if I had it to do all over again, I would have bought two units such as my brother has and put one on each TV. Whatever you do, unless you're someone who will only use the thing occasionally, don't sign up for the DVR from DirecTV. They will work out most of the kinks eventually, but it will take a while. Basically, the company is using paying customers to beta test a product that was not ready for prime time. Consider yourself warned.

Because my unit failed to record this afternoon's game, a friend of mine who taped the game is going to let me borrow the tape later tonight so I can write about it. 1970s technology has succeeded where DirecTV's has failed. Look for the game recap later tonight.

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Comments (10)

Oh no Mike-I just ordered one on ebay, my R10 got shorted out by one of the storms we had in July, Dan and I figured the R15 just had more recording time.
The new direct tv boxes that replaced the old R10s got terrible reviews, I hope we don't have as much trouble with ours as you're having.

Oh no Mike-I just ordered one on ebay, my R10 got shorted out by one of the storms we had in July, Dan and I figured the R15 just had more recording time.
The new direct tv boxes that replaced the old R10s got terrible reviews, I hope we don't have as much trouble with ours as you're having.

Hi Mike,
I have tivo and its the best thing since sliced bread (sirius #2)...

I have a friend near Hartford who has the same problem.. NO SNY and they blackout the games for the cable Xtra innings package.... You can watch YES in Arizona but cant get SNY 120 miles away.....tough...of course in hartford you get anything sox up there...

Shari -- my friend had the R10 and loved it. A lot of the issues with the R15 are in DirecTV's own forum:


I hope you and Dan don't have the problems I had.
Bean -- My old cable system had YES but no SNY or NESN. With DirecTV I get the games now, and when the DVR works I can record them. I have a friend with the older DTV DVR that uses TIVO, and he has none of the problems I do with it. Your friend should consider switching to DTV or DISH -- both will give him SNY.

I just got the DirecTV DVR to replace my DirecTV branded TiVo unit.

It's miles worse than TiVo and seems to have another problem each week, with freezes and broken pictures and everything.

It's also absolutely impossible to rewind and find the right place, unlike TiVo, where it's very easy. I hope DirecTV offers to upgrade these things, as the only thing they have going for them is the recording two shows at once thing.

schuyler -- They've been upgrading the software for them constantly, but they're still pretty bad.

My Duel Tuner Dish Network DVR works great!

I guess the old DirecTV DVR used to be pretty good, too.

After having a terrible time tying to solve a very simple problem with DirecTV's customer relations-I decided to pass my concerns on to their Senior Management. I managed to locate the Email for their new Customer Relations Senior VP-Ellen Filipiak. She was kind enough to Email me back telling me that DirecTV's Business Operation Analyst, a woman by the name of Heywot Bitew, would "resolve" the problems that I had and was apologetic for her staff's actions.
If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to read the actual Emails at http://oregonsand.blogspot.com as it really sheds a light into the attitude and poor customer relations policies of DirecTV.

Long story short-Ms Bitew did anything BUT resolve the issue. Seems Ms. Bitew is under the impression that the treatment I received is "not the norm" for her customer relations. From what I can see from boggs on the internet-I beg to differ. Right or wrong-I encourage you to share your experiences by phoning Ms. Bitew or Emailing either Ms. Bitew or Ellen Filipiak with your concerns. I am concerned that perhaps Ms. Bitew and Ms. Filipiak may not be getting accurate information as to just how bad their customer service is-so I encourage anyone that has had, or is currently experiencing problems, with DirecTV's customer service to give these two executives a clearer picture of just what is happening in this department.

To reach Heywot Bitew: Email:HZBitew@directv.com Her direct phone line:310-964-6508
To reach Ellen Filipiak, Sr VP of Customer Relations: Email her at: eafilipiak@directv.com
And you may want to send a copy of your EMails to DirecTV's investor relations. Their Email is investorrelations@directv.com

Since there are complaints since 2005, 2006, I thought I'd put the date here so you will know it's August 2009 and the damn thing still needs a many bug fixes !!
Let me start with the good: mine never had any problem at all. Got it from eBay too. Being a seasoned IT person I am quite surprised it works for weeks ! In fact I only reseted it twice in 1 year: first because I took vacation and powered everything off, then I admitted it locked on the program info.

It probably reseted itself more than that because we have a couple of bad storms every 3 or 4 weeks and the power just flicks off and on...
Anyway, all of this just proves the hardware is pretty good, but yes, I do have rants about the unit. For a first time buyer it will do for (let's say 1 month)

1) the first nerve-wretching and serious bug that pizz me off is the fact that you want to set only the damn channels I subscribe and it doesn't do. Simply put, you have to waddle thru the whole list and mark only yours.

2) online upgrades at directv's will... I wish they really fixed the bugs instead

3) sometimes the program descriptio really sticks... the exit key won't work

4) when it is showing certains channels like 800, 101, certain other shows the little nifty guide on the bottom wont show up, no matter what.. I had to resort to flipping to any other channel and back, then, quickly hitting that option on the remote... clunky but works as workaround.

4) that little channel list on the bottom again... the flip back and forth on the remote should really control it when it is on !!!

5) I wish they fixed the bugs...

6) the manage recordings is missing an option to delete the whole series... I find that I want to do that quite often...

7) bug fixes ???

Sorry I had to vent some out...


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