Roku Support Hell??!!

I love Roku. I have been a purchaser, gifter, recommender. You might call me an unpaid evangelist for the danged things. And now, I am more than a bit embarrassed by them. 

I have had a Roku for years.  We loved it so much, two Christmases ago, we gave one to my parents. Last Christmas, I gave one to my sister. Last fall we retired the original Roku to the downstairs TV and picked up a new XDS to go with the HD TV we finally got around to buying. 

I know of at least a  handful of Rokus that other people have purchased, because I told them how amazing and wonderful it is. 

The year I bought one for my parents, there were floods in California and shipping was delayed and lost and the one i ordered was never going to make it in time for the holiday. I called their support line and they worked with me to make sure that a box arrived at my parents house in time, even special overnight shipping it. 

So much can change in 18 months.

One of the people who bought one on my recommendation is a friend. They bought theirs on Dec 1, 2010. The remote died in March. ( ??!!). They have been fighting with customer support ever since to try to get a replacement. 

First they sent an email and got this response: 

From: ROKU Technical Support <>
Date: Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 4:44 PM
Subject: Roku has updated support CaseID #665373

Please note that the below has been entered:

Thank you for contacting Roku Customer Service. My Name is Karthick and I will be helping you with your query.
From your e-mail I understand that your Roku remote is defective and it might need a replacement.
The best way to handle your request is with a quick phone call to our call center.
Roku does not process RMA or return requests by email.
Roku Customer Support can be reached at 888-600-7658 (Roku) Monday to Saturday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM PST.
A knowledgeable Roku support agent will gladly provide assistance..
Thank you for providing us with an opportunity to assist you and thank you for choosing Roku.
Best Regards,
Roku Customer Service
But when they called that number, they told them phone support only lasts for 90 days and they could not help him on the phone line, they should be using either email or chat help.  ( crossed roadsigns anyone??)

The case finally got entered, a remote was supposedly  ordered, so recently,  during a 10 minute break,  my friend decided to hop onto Roku support chat and check the status, see if the remote had been shipped yet:

Notice the  4.5 minutes of silence from Roku once my friend confirmed it was the correct case, then Roku comes back and asks if there is anything else– as if “John” had helped in the first place. The only thing I can figure is that the chat agents are juggling so many windows at once that “John” lost track of who he had helped and who he had not. This is completely unacceptable as a way to run customer service. 
My Friend is at his wit’s end and is honestly ready to  give away the Roku once the remote comes and it is functional again ( you can not use it at all without a remote).
I am just embarrassed to have recommended this product so strongly, and am rethinking.  Maybe it is time to get a Boxee Box and check them out seriously.  

Roku Revolution

As you probably already know, late last night, Roku released the new channel store. I got my tipoff this am from @thepreppydude when I checked Twitter before email. After humping over the silly check for update bug (No, REALLY roku.. check again..) I had a channel store and the potential for 10 new channels on my Roku box.

It was 6:30am when I pronounced to my family that Broadcast Media is officially spun on it’s head and we began pondering how the war would shape up. More on that later, first- here is a Rogue’s take on the new channels and the navigation software…

The Channels are broken into 3 main categories- Social Media, Podcast/Media Distribution, and Personal Content viewing/sharing.

Social Media:
The new channel line up includes Facebook Photos ( which allows you to see your friends’ photo streams) and MobileTribe. For us, Social Media apps on the family TV make no sense at all. You have to associate the channels with an account. We have 4 different account holders in our household… none of us want our accounts up there and viewable by the household. With Laptops, netbooks, cell phones and an iPod Touch in the household, we are all already 24X7 connected to our chosen social media, this is just noise on the TV. I did NOT add these channels.

Personal Content Viewing/Sharing:
The sharing feature of this may be the nudge that pushes me into buying Roku boxes for family members for Christmas. The Flickr Channel is nice, but I want to be able to see my contacts’ photostream as well. If I do this, I could upload photos and my parents half a country away could view them on their TV instead of their computer. Yes, I can make a private group and add them to it, etc.. but that is just complicated. The selling point of the Roku is it’s simplicity. There is also frameChannel, which allows me to do photo sharing. I hate to move photos to yet another service, but if we can not get Flickr right, we might consider it. the sharing application that really sold me was MotionBox. With a free account I can share video with my contacts. This means I can shoot video, upload it and the grandparents (and great grands maybe) can see it on their TV, even though they are far away. I am SO all over this. An unlimited account is 40$/yr. I wonder how good their infrastructure is on the backend.. seems like it is about to become VERY easy for someone to film and produce a TV show and distribute it. Who needs YouTube?

Podcast Distribution:

The other channels are not just single channels, but collections of hundreds or thousands of feeds. These channels include,, Mediafly, Revision3 and Pandora. the amount of content that will contend for my attention on my living room TV just increased about 400%. This is the reason that Broadcast media just got spun on it’s head. Makes me wonder how all of those podcast hosts feel about being elevated to TV star over night.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly:

Once content explodes, navigation and search becomes the barrier to enjoyment. This is the only place where the Roku channel interface falls down. With just 2 or 3 channels the old coverflow style was functional. As the channel number goes up, this becomes unwieldy. I still hope for a Boxee/Roku mating. I love the Boxee interface for navigating many channels and creating favorites. Even better, I dream of functionality that my old lover Joost had.. the ability to take content from many channels and providers and create my own custom channel with only the content I love on it.

What content do you most love that you want to see on your TV? Which service providers will you prod to create a Roku interface? the possibilities are endless… as my youngest daughter quipped, “Now we really can get the Puppy Channel… puppies, puppies, puppies……”

The Death of Apple TV?

Say it right and you are listening to the first nail in the coffin of AppleTV and iTunes Movies.

As a Roku owner, I just got a very interesting email in my inbox, telling me that Amazon Video on Demand is coming soon to the Roku. The content of it is also covered on Roku’s FAQ site. So now, not only can I watch HD Netflix movies but soon I will be able to sit on my couch and order and play content from Amazon Video on Demand. I like the Amazon downloadable video content selections, the only real thing that has kept me from making good use of it is that it requires a special player on my PC. If you have not checked out the Amazon content range, spend few minutes browsing through their digital movies and TV episodes. They also have a lot of free content available every week.

Even better, Roku informs us that they have opened up their platform and we will see other content providers and channels on the Roku throughout 2009. From their email: “Amazon is just the start. More announcements of new things to watch and enjoy on your Roku player are in the pipeline for 2009.” The worst part? We have to wait a few more weeks for the Amazon rollout.

The possibilities have me excited. YouTube? Hulu? Joost? Who is your favorite content provider? What would you lke to see pop up on your Roku box this year?

Depending on how this content rolls out, I could easily imagine downloading my IPTV service to a lower level. No wonder Cable and DSL providers are dreaming of bandwidth caps.