Cox DVR Problems… Are they really, “Your Friend In The Digital Age?”

Note: They did provide a solution to this issue, it turns out that the older “Scientific America Explorer”, and “Cisco HD” boxes use the same software which is known to Cox to be a problem. The only real solution so far has been to upgrade to the new “Whole Home DVR” receiver which uses a completely different software package.

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You would think that a company like that prides themselves on being “Your Friend in the Digital Age” would have their act together when resolving issues.

I have been a customer of Cox since moving to Arizona, and have not had any issues with my service in my house since moving in August 2007.

I started having problems with the DVR service in June of 2011. The DVR would record something, but when trying to play back the item I would just get a message screen stating “This program is unavailable”.

After contacting support about the issue they sent out one of their contractors who checked all the signal strengths, connections, etc. and finally swapped out the receiver box since there was no other issue to be found. This refurbished box lasted about 30 minutes before it started making clicking noises, who actually refurbished these things?

I called and they sent him back to replace that box with another refurbished unit.

A month later the same issue came back.

Swap out the box again.

October 26, 2011:

I started to move this discussion online with a Tweet:

They did get back to me within 3 hours, Except Mick who was/is in charge of getting back to people didn’t know that you can’t DM (direct message) someone unless they are following you. Further investigation revealed that I was not the only person he said this to, it was a recurring issue with Mick responding to people.

October 27, 2011:

Mick gets back to me to tell me to email the AZ Cox help desk with my issue. The next day starts my relationship with Brett E. a “Cox Customer Care Team Mentor”. NOTE: Most of Brett and my conversations are documented in email, even though part of our conversations were through phone.

As an employee Brett seems like he is intelligent and really wants to have happy customers, I have nothing bad to say about Brett, what I don’t know since I am on the other side is whether Brett is or can get anything done, let me explain why.

We started out by checking the signals and resetting my system clean. I don’t know if you have ever done this, but it takes everything, including your:

  • recording schedules
  • recorded programs
  • favorites

and completely erases them. So you have to go through and completely reprogram your system, which can take abut 45 – 60 minutes on a good day.

After doing this we have to wait a week to see if the problem comes back.

It did, wipe it again and hope for the best.

Reprogram everything.

Wait a week.

Wait another week.

Problem came back, do it again.

As you can imagine, this is not the best scenario and reprogramming the box is not an enjoyable experience. I mentioned multiple times that the programming should be exportable or backed up somewhere, after all there is a USB port on the front, a SATA connection on the back, and I’m sure someone can figure out a way to upload this information to a server somewhere so that boxes can just be swapped out without annoying the customer. In total Brett reset my system 4 times, and I had 3 new receiver to program.

December 2011

An actual Cox tech came over to swap the box out, and just gave me a brand new box insisting that the hard drives go bad and this is the only way to fix the situation.

Oh Really!

Later in the month Brett assured me that they had a team working on the issue. I’m not sure what team, who they work for, or what they were actually doing, but the problem was never resolved.

December 29, 2011

Brett sends me an email that he would contact me a week later to see if there are any issues. There were, but aside from resetting the box there was nothing he could do.

January 2012

Decided to get HBO, which also has an HBO HD… This requires an HD receiver for another $10 a month. My thoughts are that the better HD box would remove the problem all together, so I swapped out the old for the new.

I WAS WRONG! This didn’t do anything except add to the bill and frustration.

January 23, 2012

I informed Brett of the “same issue different box” which is now a slightly more expensive partially working DVR, and even more problems started popping up:

  • A paused program would lose sound
  • A program being recorded could not be played from the beginning while being recorded
  • Video would stop audio would continue

February 1, 2012

Brett informs me that it is in-fact a DVR software issue and they are going to be testing a fix the next week.


Sorry for the delay in getting this information to you. It definitely is a software issue with the DVR’s, and I received some information from my interactive department. We have a fix that is going to be tested in our system in the next week. If all goes well with the testing we should be rolling out the update to all of our customers. I will be in contact with you to keep you posted on the progress and to let you know when we will be putting that update thru.

February 12, 2012

Brett informs me they are testing the repair and will keep me posted.

February 28, 2012

After not hearing from Brett I emailed him:

Brett this has been going on since October 28th.
The DVR & getting stuck on channels problems, that you have admitted are known problems, still continue, you either have to provide a solution or stop charging me and refund the past few months until this is resolved.

After speaking with Brett he provided me a credit for the past few months of DVR service, however he was also attempting to provide me with a discount going forward to make up for the ill functioning DVR.

However, this credit has never appeared and I am (as of April 13th) still being billed $18.50 for a partially (30% of the time) working DVR.

April 2012

We currently have to reboot the receiver daily because it gets stuck with a black screen on a channel and you cannot physically change the channel.


This causes me to question a few things:

  1. Was Brett ever working on or talking to anyone about a solution?
  2. Why would the problem continue from the older receiver to a newer HD receiver of a different manufacturer? Do they both use the same Cox specific DVR software? If so how many other people are having this problem?
  3. Why would a company continue to charge people for a service they know, and have employees admitting, is troublesome?
  4. What does it actually take to get a fully functioning solution?


I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below if you have had any problems with your television provider, or a company who just strings you along thinking that you can’t voice your opinion to a larger audience. Please share to help get situations like this resolved.



  1. i feel your pain and frustation. we have had the same problem. when i had an old tv, our DVR never had a problem. when i upgraded tv sets to a spiffy HD TV, have had nothing but problems with the DVR box.
    We have exchanged boxes at least four times. They checked our connection, wiring whatever. The only thing they did say, is we are in an older apt. building and it would have to be rewired to not have any channel connection problems. We had one channel that we couldnt’ get HD on.
    BUT, we still have the problem with the Program Content Currently Unavailable. We have also not been able to switch channels. It will jump to a totally different channel.
    We will not upgrade to the whole house DVR. Why? We don’t have another TV. We want a working box.

  2. Never bothered with the Cox DVR since my HD receiver provided enough issues. All my services calls were very similar to yours…check signal strength, replace box, rinse and repeat. My biggest headache was the poor video quality of the OnDemand content. I gave up on Cox’s solutions and just replaced my HD receiver with Tivo Premier (HD Receiver/DVR combo). Now, getting the cable cards working while talking to Cox support is another story all together, but ultimately I’m happier with the Tivo and don’t miss the equipment headaches with Cox.

  3. My wife and I moved into an appartment complex that only allows cox communcations. This has been a nightmare for the last 3 months several techs have been to our house and can’t tell us what’s happening or why. The issues are recorded shows not playing all the way through, pixalations, loss of sound and shows not recording at all. i’m at my point. if anyone has any oppinions please let me know at samuel.jones1214@gmailcom.

    • osoblanco says:

      Mine did that while I had an external hard drive connected.

      • funny, lots of the same issues/experiences defined above. i have been getting a msg occasionally asking me if i want to format a drive that was just discovered. it’s been 3 months, nothing but problems and swaping in/out, waiting for the 1 phone call they make from dispatch, leaving work early.

        would drop these clowns in a second (been a customer for 20 years) but no other options in my area, no line of site for Directv…

        every year the service gets worse and the prices go up…i need another option!

  4. Why can’t the dvr record an entire program? It always cuts off the last minute or two of the show. Infuriating!!!

  5. I have been a customer of Cox cable here in Virginia Beach for well over 20 years, primarily for internet service. I dropped their TV and phone about 15 years ago and went to Dish for a few years, then to DirecTV. Last year I dropped DirecTV due to customer service issues and re-bundled my phone, TV and internet with Cox. Since coming back to Cox for TV I have had to replace the HD boxes least 4 times due to many of the same issues, i.e. no picture, picture frozen and won’t respond to the remote, as sited above. Cox has a monopoly in our area for internet, otherwise I would drop them in a heart beat. A tech came to my home to replace a defective box yesterday. Although the box they installed seems to work, the chassis is bent and the front bezel is not seated properly. Looks like someone worked on the box and haphazardly put it back together. Totally unprofessional. In fairness, they have responded to each trouble call in a timely fashion. They just never seem to correct the problems. I believe they take their customers for granted because their is no reasonable competition in our area.

  6. My problem is somewhat different: Cox/Cisco records but when I try to playback, the screen says “Loading … Please Wait.” It never loads. Recently bought a new TV (had the same issue before) and everything was fine for about a month. Now we’re back to the same old thing.
    Any suggestions?

  7. Guillermo Perez-Vargas says:

    Same issues reported above. Same frustrating response from technicians. Same outcome – problem still there.
    Have hade 4 boxes replaced (lost recordings, lost settings, time off work, etc.), now I get a letter from Cox saying they offer to replace the box (AGAIN!) with a new one that is fixed(?????). Will lose many hours of recordings and all my settings – again!
    With USB port, I know that there is a way to back-up all this, but Cox does not care/want to help their costumers. They have a monopoly and crappy equipment is not an issue for them!
    If anyone has a solution, please post!!!

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