Thursday, February 21, 2008

Our Comcastic DVR Meltdown Nightmare

Yesterday, we went to watch something we'd recorded on our Comcast DVR to find that we lost everything. Ev. Ry. Thing. Thanks to Comcast and its faulty DVR.

Project Runway episodes from the start of this season. The new Jamie Oliver shows (loved the one about leeks). Almost a season's worth of Futurama. A few stray Flight of the Conchords. Even Lost. (Thankfully, we'd seen all the episodes in this truncated season, but still.)

The Comcast DVR we had so lovingly programmed our tv-watching habits around had been half full -- or half empty, depending on your point of view.

But now, the Comcast DVR unit had turned magically overnight into a doorstop. Couldn't even change the channels.

All gone!

During a storm the night before, our block suffered a power outage. But after power was restored, the DVR was working. As I recall, I even watched a few old recorded episodes, and deleted a few.

Then, yesterday, the unit locked up -- we couldn't change channels or get audio. So, we did as we've done when it locked up once or twice before -- we unplugged the DVR and plugged it back in.

Only this time, the DVR was DOA.

A call to Comcast confirmed we were totally out of luck. Ding-dong, the DVR's dead. They offered no way to get the shows back off the hard drive. And no, there's no backup.

In rare cases, losing power, we were told, can wipe the hard drive clean!

We pointed out that this was unacceptable in a service that purports to hang onto whatever you tell it to -- especially because it gives you no options whatsoever to create a backup of the hard drive contained within.

The response? Something along the lines of this:

"Too bad."

Clearly, frustration reigned on both sides of that conversation.

Because they don't offer any way for you to easily and effectively back up the hard drive that comes with the DVR, the assumption is that Comcast has it covered somehow.

Well, they don't.

So, let that be a lesson to you. If you have a Comcast DVR:
  • Watch whatever you record -- or love -- early and often. Because you never know when your shows will completely disappear. God forbid you live in a rainstorm-savaged part of the country.

  • Write down a list of the shows you record as a series. If, like us, you've become dependent on your DVR and no longer pay attention to a show's actual broadcast time, this could be a challenge to reconstruct later. Do it now. On paper.

  • If you ever get an on-screen message that involves calling Comcast and giving them some sort of special code number, pack up your DVR and find out which local Comcast office you need to go to to trade in your DVR for a different unit and pencil in some time to go ASAP.*
Live and learn!

*This happened to us a few months ago, and with a simple phone call, they were able to fix something on their end to reset it, and we marveled at Comcast's efficiency. However, when I traded in the DVR yesterday, the very nice Comcast person there said that's a sign that something's up and you should just trade in the DVR right away.

No comments: