Part of this weekend's activities includes fixing the in-laws TiVo system and getting their home entertainment system working. Since we were to help set it up initially they've moved it to a new cabinet and had the local cable guy out to help troubleshoot.
Somewhat unsurprisingly the cable guy's answer is to give up on TiVo and go to the cable company's second rate DVR system. Ultimately the problem stemmed from two cables that the cable guy wasn't sure what to do with and just stuck in the back of the case. Low and behold when the TiVo says it can't connect it is possible that the network connection cable is important. Similarly when the cable guy says "TiVo doesn't work with our system," it really means he wants to sell you something else more than help you. It also means that he won't take the time to read the one-page instruction sheet or think for a few minutes about why the TiVo can't control the cable box without the connectors. Imagine.
Basic advice for everyone. Don't let the cable guy do more than pull the cable to your house. If you need help with your system find a local independent expert and get them to come help you. You'll get a much better deal and you'll have hair left at the end of the process.