Actually, it would be justified anywhere people understand business.
I guess if you were running things you'd just throw out all the boxes when customers returned them, eh?
I have a feeling you'll be working for the man forever.
That comment is a can of worms. "Business" spans the spectrum from pond scum to all-around great company. As a general rule, the larger, the lower. Somewhat driven by the too big to care/fail mentality.
The crux of the flaw in your way of thinking has to do with most people having paid for the box that has to be replaced. You pay for a box. You don't own it - just pay for the privilege of leasing it (or if you must, effectively prepaying the lease). The lease is entirely open-ended at DTV discretion. If your box dies DTV will replace it. With functionally similar device. However, similar doesn't necessarily mean equivalent. For example, the replacement may be a lot slower than what you originally had.
What happens in the transition from one model to another? I don't recall the details but I'm pretty sure when the HR24 became available that older models were still available and they cost less. In other words, to get the HR24 and it's associated speed improvements, the customer paid more.
How is it right that a company implicitly acknowledges that one product is inferior to another yet sees nothing wrong with replacing the better product with the lesser product?
It's just brain dead. Business or otherwise.
Better businesses make plenty of money by doing things fairly.