NTL DVR Gripes

I’ve been using the NTL/UPC DVR (Digital Video Recorder) for a few weeks now, and although it seems to do the job of recording programmes quite well, I must say that the software implementation is quite poor. There seems to have been very little thought put into the user interface – which is shocking when competitor systems from TiVo and SKY+ have been around on the market for so long.

No dedicated button on the remote

With the record and playback functionality being so important to the unit, it’s a real shame that there’s no dedicated button on the remote control that accesses these features. Indeed the remote control is identical to the one supplied with non-DVR digital cable boxes, which seems like an unnecessary compromise, particularly as I have to do four button presses to access my list of recordings.

Backup doesn’t remember place in the list

If I select to watch a programme, and then exit back to the list of recordings using the backup button, the first show in the list is highlighted, instead of the show I just watched. And so, if I wanted to continue watching or delete the show, I’ve got to find it again on the list.

Poorly designed TV Guide

I must say the TV guide provided with the DVR is probably one of the worst I have ever seen, in terms of layout and design. Only about half of the screen is used to show listings information, meaning that you can only view 6 channels at a time, and 90 minutes of programmes at a time. From memory, the TiVo and SKY+ offerings are vastly superior, and a lot more intuitive to use.

No Season Pass

This is the huge omission, and my biggest gripe by far – the lack of a season pass feature, whereby in a single action you can tell the box to record all episodes of a particular programme. TiVo and SKY+ have had this functionality for years, but it is strangely absent from the NTL DVR. I do hope that the DVR manufacturers rethink this omission, and include it future software updates.

More problems

The farce continues with the NTL DVR installation. Following two failed installs on Monday and Tuesday this week, I was assured on Tuesday afternoon that a DVR would definitely be installed “first thing tomorrow morning” (Wednesday).

Well it’s now Wednesday afternoon, and guess what? Yup, you got it. Nobody came, and the number of failed appointments reaches three (or four, if you also count the missed Broadband install on Saturday).

So I called NTL (I know the number from memory now), and they told me that no appointment was made for this morning, and that my DVR was booked in for Friday afternoon – which was news to me – but not much of a surprise. After all, almost nothing that NTL tells me ever seems to match reality. I’ve had several promises made to me over the last week, and not one of them has been kept. And at the moment, I have very little faith that anyone will arrive on Friday either.

What I should do, of course, is cancel my service with NTL. They’ve messed me around more than any sane person could stand. But I don’t want to go elsewhere. I just want NTL to install the services I asked for.

Catalogue of errors

You wouldn’t believe the amount of grief I’ve been experiencing from NTL (also known as UPC) over the last week or so.

I called them a couple of weeks ago, to get my digital TV subscription moved from to my new address. And as part of the deal, I wanted to also order Broadband internet and a DVR (hard disk recorder). Now originally I was told this could all happen on the same day, but a week later when I was informed of the dates, the single install had turned into three separate appointments on three separate mornings.

The digital TV would be installed on the Wednesday, the broadband would come on the Saturday, and the DVR would arrive on the Monday. It didn’t seem like the best use of resources to spread the work out over three different appointments, but I was happy for them to go ahead. Only that, so far it’s been a bit of a nightmare.

Wednesday 5th December
Appointment slot 9.00am – 1.00pm to install digital TV – installation engineer arrives at 10.30am, and everything goes smoothly.

Saturday 8th December
Appointment slot 9.00am – 1.00pm to install broadband – engineer fails to arrives, nobody calls to apologise or explain what’s going on, and getting through to customer care is impossible because they’re flooded with calls from people wanting to view some premium boxing match event.

Monday 10th December
Eventually get through to customer care about the broadband, and they tell me that the install was cancelled by the engineer that installed the digital TV on Wednesday, because he says I didn’t want broadband any more. This is a complete lie, as we never even discussed broadband. But I let it go and accept a new appointment on Thursday.
Appointment slot 9.00am – 1.00pm to swap digibox for DVR – wrong engineer arrives at 11.00am. He’s been sent to fix a fault rather than doing an install, and has no DVRs with him. He says he will get an installation engineer to call later in the day, but this doesn’t happen. And when I get through to customer care again, they rebook the install for the next day.

Tuesday 11th December
2nd appointment 9.00am – 1.00pm to install DVR – and the wrong engineer arrives again. Just like the day before, the guy who turned up was sent to fix a fault rather than install a DVR – so he goes away without doing any work. I call NTL again, and they apologise for the (three) messed-up appointments, and promise that my DVR will definitely arrive the next morning. I ask to confirm that the broadband install is still happening on Thursday, and am told that there’s no appointment noted on the system for Thursday, and am instead offered an install on Friday.

Wednesday 12th December
3rd appointment to install DVR – stay tuned to see if this actually happens.

Thursday 13th December
2nd appointment to install Broadband – glad that I asked about this, as I’d have waited in again, only for nobody to show up.

Friday 14th December
3rd appointment to install Broadband – stay tuned to see if this actually happens.
So, all in all, that’s a total of seven different appointments made, instead of the initially-stated one.

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