Losing recordings? If the content is that important, then you will find a way to get a copy you can keep in some format.
Using returbs as replacements is the only acceptable method. It is the reality that people need to accept. Every single provider does it and will continue to. There is no way around it. These units are not disposable after one use. These folks are not being realistic and expect DirecTV to do business in a way that isn't even logical.
There is a large gap between content is so important that I'll acquire a copy, sometimes difficult to do, and content I don't care about at all. (If I didn't care about it at all, I probably wouldn't record it in the first place...)
So anytime I lose a chunk of the library I've recorded for the convenience of easy playback, it is a pain.
Jeff has another excellent point; getting behind to replace the equipment. Mrs. Tibber is extremely patient, I forget how much so. Most families don't want a cabinet as open as mine is so I can replace more easily.
Now, I am not saying DIRECTV has another choice economically. (I suppose they could create a protection plan elite that would always replace old with new--at a higher price...)
acknowledging the pain of replacements. Not fun. Less often is better.
My real treasures: 5 Grandchildren - S, D, M, M, C ; 6! Great-Grandtibbers - B, H, J, A, M, C (Plus 1 in the oven!)