Lost Caller ID with the new Genie menus? Here’s why

DIRECTV’s new menu system for its Genie DVRs continues to roll out across the country. Judging from the ongoing stream of comments, the transition hasn’t been so easy for some folks. I understand, change can be hard.

The latest question came to me through our support desk. A customer of ours said that Caller ID stopped working with the new menus. I did some digging, and sure enough it has.

According to an official source, DIRECTV Genie DVRs no longer offer caller ID, period. I have to say I’m not surprised. Look at the facts:

  • DIRECTV’s only two currently offered Genie DVRs, the HR54 and HS17 Genie 2, don’t even have phone jacks.
  • Caller ID is notoriously unreliable if you get phone service through your cable company.
  • DIRECTV DVRs don’t need to connect using phone lines and haven’t for almost a decade.
  • People continue to cut landline service from their homes.

Of course none of that is going to matter to you if you were getting caller ID and you’re not now. You probably know that your friends are giving up landline phones, and you’re ok keeping yours, but unfortunately it’s not likely that DIRECTV hardware is going to support caller ID in the future.

But… but… isn’t AT&T the phone company?

Believe me, the irony is not lost on me.

AT&T is the company that invented the landline phone, and their onetime subsidiaries are the ones that rolled out caller ID in the first place. In you have AT&T home phone service now, you have caller ID. All that might make you think that caller ID was a priority for them.

However, the company continues to focus more on wireless and internet, and it’s hard to blame them since that’s where the profit is. It’s fair to say that AT&T wouldn’t be in business if they just focused on what people wanted in 1876 (or even 1976, or 2006). They have to look where the market is going, and while it may be frustrating, the market isn’t going to embrace landline phones in a big way like they used to.

Some people are going to say that this is evidence of AT&T ignoring their longtime customers, and I get that. I just don’t see it that way. When the original DIRECTV HD DVR rolled out in 2006, cell phones were still expensive and they weren’t a total replacement for landline phones. On the other hand, your DVR needed to call in on a landline phone to upload pay-per-view purchases and other data. Today, of course we have internet-enabled phones and wi-fi enabled DVRs. There’s no need to put a phone jack in the current equipment, and it just doesn’t make financial sense to support caller ID in the new system.

I know one of the goals of the new menu system was eliminating older features that were used by very small numbers of people. That lets the computer code be more streamlined and run faster for everyone. It’s not a great consolation if you’re one of the people who still loved a certain feature, I do understand.