I’ve long been wanting a Tivo and finally got one for Christmas. For 3 days we all had fun learning the system, setting up recordings, fast-forwarding through commercials, Tivo Logoplaying stored programs. Then today it all came crashing down. We turned on the TV and nothing worked. No signal from Tivo, no signal from cable.

I called Tivo support and after checking all the obvious possibilities, they determined that my cable company was blocking access to all channels and that I would have to get them to install cable cards. Well, this seemed hardly possible. In none of the material I read did I see that cable cards were required in order to allow Tivo to work. I asked the Tivo support person if the cable cards would cost extra and she assured me they would not.

So, I stopped by Suddenlink (my only choice for cable service) and talked to them about this. It turns out that yes, after Suddenlink found out about our new Tivo they started blocking access thus requiring these cable card installations. It also turns out that Suddenlink charges $60 to install them and $2.00 per month service charge! It gets worse: Apparently they can’t guarantee the cards will work. Huh? They have a policy to block channel access to Tivo that requires cards that may not work. Is that legal? But wait! It gets worse! Apparently Suddenlink doesn’t have any of the cable cards that are in working order. And they couldn’t tell me when they would have them.

So, after spending hundreds of dollars on the Tivo box, another $130 on the Tivo service I have a lump of useless hardware, that I may or may not ever be able to make work because my only cable company is either totally inept or evil. Perhaps both.