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uVerse ain't utopia

I still love TiVo. It's just that we can't be together anymore due to technical difficulties.

A few weeks ago, a guy came to our door offering AT&T uVerse service. My husband talked with him about the features, and I was enthusiastic about the chance to kick our current provider, Charter, to the curb. They are by far the worst cable experience I have ever had. It's no wonder the company has over 300 complaints against it with the Better Business Bureau. For over a year, service dropped out frequently, didn't match the speed we were paying for, and so on. We also never got the HD-DVR we'd been promised when we signed up for the service. At 10:00 am each day, like clockwork, service would drop for 30 minutes. I was very much affected by this, because I often work from home two days a week. Finally, about four months ago after we'd apparently racked up enough support calls to get some real notice, they sent a really good tech out who fixed the stability issue. We still weren't getting full speed or our DVR, but it was better. Even so, we don't like to reward people for giving us bad service, so we leapt at the opportunity to ditch them.

In the interim, we got TiVo to cover the DVR gap. TiVo is a great service: it's friendly, clear, intuitive, and provides both online scheduling and software to transfer programs from your TiVo to your computer. Unfortunately, with Charter, it could not record channels above a certain number, nor could it record high-definition programs.

It also won't work with AT&T uVerse.

Now, there's no question that AT&T is an improvement in some ways: the 'net connection is faster, we get movie channels with our package, we get a high-definition DVR, and so on. However, while the interface works, it leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion.

First, the uVerse online scheduling is more limited than TiVo's. It's ugly as homemade sin, and you can't see one channel's worth of listings -- you have to keep scrolling through this table sideways.

It's also really yucky that they've partnered with Yahoo as the portal for the online scheduling.

I hate Yahoo. Loathe them. For years, I had a freebie Yahoo account just to access a tea message board, and they cancelled it with no notice whatsoever for no apparent reason. As best I can figure out, it's because I wouldn't enter my date of birth in Yahoo's profile. I don't feel they need to know that information (I had created my account before they started requiring it). I tried to inquire as to why, but got no response whatsoever, so screw them. Now, because of the B2B partnership with uVerse, I have to go to this nasty, hideously cluttered page just to get to AT&T's primitive, rudimentary online scheduling. Furthermore, I can't access the scheduling with my subaccount: I have to log in with the main account. We're paying for the service: why can't we just have a nice, normal corporate login web site instead of dealing with the overhead of Yahoo's crap?

Additionally, uVerse doesn't currently offer transfer software like TiVo did, although supposedly they are going to be offering some sort of pod in the future that will enable users to view programs on their DVR from computers and other devices.

My husband tells me that the scheduling software on the television/DVR itself is better than the online option, but I never use that because I have to go down two floors to get to it. Online scheduling is most convenient because it's available right from my computer.

It kind of feels like the difference between a Mac and PC, or perhaps the difference between a prototype race car and a comfy, spacious consumer vehicle. The race car goes really fast, but has no amenities - no music player, uncomfortable seats, manual transmission, and so on. The consumer car has a roomy interior, comfortable seats, automatic transmission, and other options. Which would you rather ride in day after day?

Also, the AT&T guy accidentally disconnected our land line. I am livid. Three service techs later, and it still isn't fixed. Tomorrow will be a week without service, service that I'm still paying for. You see, we have service with Cavalier, not AT&T, and they apparently are perplexed by that. They're all, "You have to call Cavalier." Cav didn't jack it up, me boyo. You broke it: you fix it. Our phone situation is a hot mess, actually, but that's a post all by itself and I don't feel like raising my blood pressure by going into it right now. (Last weekend was a very bad weekend in several ways. New rule: never, ever, ever again will a service installation be scheduled at the same time a family visit is occuring.)

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that we got rid of Charter, but not without major hassle, stress, and annoyance. It definitely wasn't seamless, and the phone situation is still pending resolution.

To paraphrase the Lolrus, miss mah TiVo.

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