Clearly the regular posting is off to a slow start, but I swear I am trying, haha
So here’s a short note about customer service (and I guess it’s also about LEGAL MP3 downloads). Now, given that the price difference between the regular disc and the MP3 album is often small and that I play discs in my car, I usually go for the disc instead of the MP3 (and rip it myself to play it on my computer and throw the CD in the car collection). But, I did make an exception twice.
First time I bought an MP3 album from Amazon, all was good. I liked the great quality, it was DRM free, so thumbs up for Amazon, thumbs down for iTunes. The second time I bought from Amazon, which was about a week back, things didn’t go so well. The download went good, but then the tracks were skipping (I’m guessing the original CD they were ripped from was dirty or scratched). So in other words, another small but terribly annoying problem, just as I had previously with iTunes. Now here’s the difference. When my iTunes album was messed up, I tried to contact them about it and I never heard back. This small failure in customer service ensured that I will never buy a track from iTunes again. On the other hand, Amazon responded fantastically fast (I think in less than two hours every time I wrote to them), were very polite and offered me a whole bunch of solutions. Now, the solutions themselves looked as if an automatic answering system spit them out because they were all solutions for download problems instead of messed up tracks, but with a service as big as Amazon, some preset answers don’t surprise me much, you have to keep things going, I can understand that – even if it doesn’t make me very happy. Eventually, unable to get things figured out, I requested a refund and again, very quickly, I received a confirmation that I will get refunded AND I was invited to try and get the MP3 album again in a few days, after they try and get a corrected version up (finally an acknowledgment of the real problem).
Now sure, I am still upset that the whole thing didn’t work right and now I have to get the disc instead and wait for it to be mailed and all, but their responsive customer service made me happy. Yes, I will think twice before buying an MP3 album again, but I might nonetheless. And I will definitely still consider Amazon my number one choice for Internet purchases as long as they keep up the good work like this. Everybody makes mistakes and that’s normal. It’s how you react to those mistakes that sets the difference, especially when it comes to mistakes towards your customers.
A little note here: the OVERALL quality of legal MP3 sales has got to go up, otherwise you will never convince people to stop doing it illegaly. If you download an album illegaly and it’s messed up, you don’t lose a cent, but when you start paying for it, you have some expectations and if those are not met, ethics alone will not keep people on the right track. Actually, they probably will increase the popularity of illegal solutions if anything.
Just in case anyone’s curios, this is the album I am trying to get. I highly recommend it: Bach:Concertos
When I first ran into iTunes I thought it was amazing. I mean really, so you can download all these songs, for a relatively small price and it’s all legal? Whoa, awesome! Last year, about this time, I downloaded an album from iTunes. It was all good, cheaper than buying the disk on Amazon so I was happy. Then slowly things started turning sour.
First of all, the quality is good, but it’s not what I’m used to. Maybe it’s just for this specific album, but anyway it’s not that “you can’t tell the difference between this and an audio CD” thing, like most of my music library. Second, some of the songs weren’t cut off correctly. So, the beginning of track 3 will be actually on the end of track 2 and so on. Not a big issue unless you’re a fan of shuffling.. but I am. (Note: emailing them about the issue didn’t merit a response)
But it really really started sucking when I realized the only way I can listen to this stuff is WITH iTunes (and more on that in a minute). I can’t play it in my normal music player where all my other thousands of tracks are, I can’t burn a CD with it (so no listening to this in the car) and at that time I was playing music from my phone so no iPod meaning I couldn’t take my music with me. Well thank you iTunes, for saving me $3 and taking all the fun out of digital music! I actually have to buy the album AGAIN from somewhere else if I want to be able to ever really listen to it. So, instead of saving me $3 you cost me $10. Great!
While we’re at it, let’s talk about the software iTunes. First off, I admire Apple for their good software. No really. The only thing that makes Macs good is Mac OS X. Not the hardware, definitely not the price. Just the OS. Also, Safari is a good browser (at least on Mac OS, I had no experience with it on Windows) and I had no complains about it. Also some of the photo/video software I ran into from Apple was quite good. So yeah, I like Apple software. Generally good quality stuff.
But then there’s iTunes. iTunes takes more resources than anything else I’ve ever seen. It takes about the same time to launch on my laptop as Adobe Photoshop and that’s known to be a beast. If they implemented any multithreading in it, they did it badly, nearly any operation freezes the whole thing until it completes (and it takes its time to complete ANYTHING). I hate having to open it and I try and keep the time it’s open to a minimum, because it simply destroys my multitasking. When iTunes is doing something, everything else needs to stand down. Including my brain, because I’m just stuck waiting for it to do something.
Apple, face it, iTunes is your MOST used software. If this is the way you advertise your software division, don’t be surprised that many people won’t pay the extra bucks for your Mac OS. Maybe it’s time you fix this fail boat of a program. And your DRM policies, before everyone switches to something better and you lose all the market share in the music industry you worked so hard to get.