As I reported earlier, TiVo is ending the TiVo Rewards program. I first signed up for TiVo Rewards in November, 2004, but I didn’t really make a big deal out of it. I didn’t yet have the site. I was very active in many TiVo lists, groups, communities, etc, but I didn’t really put my referral address out there much. So by September 2006 I’d only accumulated seven referrals, or 35,000 points, and I redeemed them for product lifetime on a new TiVo at that time. (Yes, the good old days when lifetime was available and just 35,000 points.) That month also happened to be the month the TiVo Series3 shipped, and my review of the same came out. To provide a home for the review I created the first real version of the site, and I included my referral address. That’s when I really started using the referral program.
For the past year and a half I have received many referrals from readers, for which I am very grateful. I don’t recommend TiVo for the rewards, but I’d be lying to say it isn’t nice to get something by way of thanks. I’ve been recommending TiVo since early 2002, when I got my first box, long before there was a TiVo Rewards program. And the termination of the program won’t change that either. I recommend TiVo because I genuinely feel it is a good product and worthy of my recommendation. TiVo Rewards was nice while it lasted, but I always viewed it as a fringe benefit. I’ll miss it, but I’m grateful for the time it was available and there are no hard feelings on my part.
Is TiVo offering us anything in compensation for removing this program? I assume not and hope to find a lawyer who would like a class action suit. It is very disgusting how a place offers something, gets you hooked, and then says you’re loosing that feature with nothing in return.
Words fail me. Other than to say this kind of attitude exemplifies the things wrong with our society. I’d say it lowers my opinion of humanity, but I’ve been online since 1989, so that’s no longer so easy to do. I’d almost be disappointed if some dimwit didn’t whip out the ‘class action’ call over this. I’m waiting for someone to compare TiVo to the Nazis. Still, it gets a deep sigh and a shake of the head.
And there there are articles such as “TiVo shuttering Rewards program, screwing its best customers” at Engadget. It contains the following:
This won’t matter to the vast majority of TiVo customers, no no, this decision only screws the company’s staunchest word-of-mouth advocates. You know the kind, the alpha geeks obsessed enough with the company’s products to others spend their time zealously recommending it to friends and family in the hopes of spreading the premium DVR experience (and earning some points while they’re at it).
You know, I kind of vaguely resemble that remark. OK, not so vaguely, I pretty much define“alpha geeks obsessed enough with the company’s products to others spend their time zealously recommending it to friends and family in the hopes of spreading the premium DVR experience”. Yet I feel distinctly unscrewed. Why should I feel screwed? I got points for something I was doing anyway, recommending TiVo. And I should feel screwed because now I can’t earn points, just like it was before they introduced TiVo Rewards? Why? Oh noes, TiVo isn’t giving me free stuff anymore! Those bastards! I bet they killed Kenny too!
There is a word for someone who recommends products only for a reward – shill. And while I have been accused of being a shill, more than once, I kindly disagree. I’ve gotten TiVo a bit upset with me more than once due to things I’ve posted. If I think TiVo got something wrong, I say so. When I disagree with TiVo’s approach or implementation, I say so. TiVo is definitely not perfect, I just think they’re the best DVR on the market today. And I’d even qualify that to say TiVo is not the best choice for everyone, and for some users one of the alternatives will be the best choice. I speak my mind, whether or not what I say is what TiVo would like to hear. I think that’s important – no one ever improves if they’re only surrounded by yes-men.
Bluntly, I question the sincerity of anyone who would say they’d stop recommending TiVo because TiVo Rewards is terminating. That sounds like the only reason they were recommending TiVo was to earn rewards, and that’s the wrong reason to recommend anything. If it isn’t worth of your recommendation without compensation, then recommending it for compensation shows a lack of integrity. It also means you’ve recommended something to others that you don’t actually believe in, which is dishonest. You’ve lied to those you recommended the product to by making them believe you support the product when you were in it for the rewards. In short, you’re a shill. If you genuinely believed in the product you wouldn’t stop recommending it just because you stopped earning rewards.
The fact is, the termination of TiVo Rewards doesn’t change the product. If it was worth recommending before, then it is still worth recommending. And if it wasn’t, then it isn’t now. Whether or not you recommend something should depend on your opinion of the product, not on how many rewards you can earn by pitching it. (I treat affiliate programs for the site the same way. I get pitches for a number of programs, but I only use those for sites, software, etc, I personally use or would recommend. If I wouldn’t shop there I’m not going to send others there just because they give me a cut.)
This is all just business. I talked to TiVoPony by phone on Friday and confirmed that TiVo is developing a new loyalty program, which will launch later this year. As part of the switch they are terminating their relationship with their current rewards program administrator. That requires closing out the program, which is why everyone needs to redeem their points before the program officially closes out. There isn’t any malicious intent or conspiracy, just changes in the business. There has been some crazy speculation on why TiVo is doing this, a lot of it giving TiVo far too little credit for intelligence. TiVo certainly knows how the program has performed, and what their return has been. As they’re switching to a new loyalty program (and no, I still haven’t been able to pry details out of TiVo), they must feel the new program will provide them with better results. They’re not throwing out the entire concept of a loyalty program, they’re going to try something different.
Remember the point of the program is not really to reward loyal users, but to drive business growth by rewarding loyal users. Don’t confuse the ends and the means. Maybe they weren’t getting a good return on the current program. Or maybe they feel the new program will simply provide a better return. Either way it would make sense to terminate the current program. There is no reason to be angry, or feel ‘screwed’, unless you were using the program for the wrong reasons.
So I’m fine with it, and I’m hopeful that the new loyalty program will be interesting. I look forward to seeing what form the new program takes. I’m going to get my parents a TiVo, as I promised, only now I’ll get them one of the new lifetime TiVo HD bundles. instead of a Series3. I might pick up a TiVo HD for myself, I’m sure I’ll get an HDTV for the bedroom eventually. And I’ll be doing some giveaways on the site for those who leave real comments on the blog. (Hint.)