16 January 2011

Rhapsody and a Rude Awakening

Last night I splurged on an impulse buy: a $10 Rhapsody gift card priced at $7.99.  I like music and I like savings the moneys, even when it's $2.01.  I log onto Rhapsody's website, add my credit with nary a problem and away I go.  Within ten minutes I'm trying to decide between Waylon Jennings's Ol' Waylon Sings Ol' Harlan (12 songs, $9.99) and Brent Spiner's Dreamland (16 songs, $8.99).  I decided that not only would I really prefer to have my Waylon library in tangible disc form , but that four additional songs for a dollar less maximized my buying power.  I would have enough credit remaining for another singular song with Spiner.  Dreamland got the nod.  Apply credit, download .ZIP file and await the completion of the download.  Easy, no?

Four minutes later, I'm extracting the album folder.  Once completed, I go into iTunes and click Add Folder to Library, choose the aforementioned extracted folder.  I'm editing the sort artist field when it occurs to me that I'm two songs shy of an album (not a euphemism).  I check the extracted folder.  Tracks 7 and 12 are conspicuously absent.  I contact Rhapsody support.  George and I chat for the majority of an episode of House, M.D.  I won't bore you with the entirety of our chat, but here are the particulars.

George: There are totally 14 with album ' Dreamland ' + you have purchased another track ' scar tissue '.  The other two tracks you mentioned are not available in Rhapsody.

I linked him to the Dreamland listing page.  After a few minutes, he comes back and admits:

George: They show as available. I have applied $2 credit to your account. You can purchase those tracks separately.

Except, I couldn't.  I received an error message.  Further investigation reveals that these two songs are not, for unexplained reasons, available.  Now, had I known this, I would have used my $10 credit to purchase Ol' Waylon Sings Ol' Harlan.  It may not have maximized my purchasing power, but I would obviously have preferred to own all of that album instead of most of this one.

George: If some tracks are not available in Rhapsody for download, you can't get those tracks. You are not charged for those tracks which are left. The price of the whole album leaving those two tracks is $8.99.

So I looked at the Dreamland listing page and did some math.  The album price is $8.99, with a note that reads, "Buy the album and save $6.85."  Now, I freely admit that my math skills have been weaker than I'd have liked over the years but here's some basic breakdown for you:

$8.99 (album price) + $6.85 (savings) = $15.84 (cumulative cost of all songs)
$15.84 / $0.99 (individual price) = 16 (number of songs)

Had only 14 songs been available, the savings would have been less, and the total amount divided by song cost would not equal 16.

Ultimately, George was incapable of mollifying me with a $2 credit and suggested that I call phone support.  Their number, in case you need it, is 1-866-597-5505.  Unfortunately, they don't take calls this time of night so I have to wait until 7:30 AM Pacific Standard Time to call and see if I can explain to someone at Rhapsody that it's their fault I bought an incomplete album.  Cross your fingers, kids.

I felt miserable (thank you, Crohn's) and didn't call as planned on Sunday.  I did, however, send an e-mail to their support team.  Britney replied to inform me:

Thank you for writing back to us. 

I'm sorry to hear that you are unable to access the two tracks in album 'Dreamland'. 
I apologize that I have been unable to resolve this issue. Your case is being escalated to our Level 2 e-mail team. You will receive a response as soon as possible. 
Thank you for your patience.
Rhapsody Customer Support

Tonight, I received what appears to be a final statement from Edward:

My name is Edward. I am a Rhapsody Technical Support Representative. 

I understand that you are having trouble in downloading two particular purchased tracks 'A Rude Awakening' and 'A Long Walk Home' from the album 'Dreamland' by the artist 'Brent Spiner' as those tracks were not downloaded. I can help you with this.
We checked from our side and try to purchase and download these particular tracks and experienced the same issue. Hence we have reported this issue to the appropriate department. They will investigate on this issue. Once it is rectified, you will receive an e-mail as early as possible. I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.
On checking our record, I see that one of our agent already provided comp credit ($2.00) for these two purchased tracks into your account. You can use this credit to purchase any other individual tracks from Rhapsody web site.
Thank you,
Rhapsody Technical Support

So there you have it.  I wasted $8.99 to buy a partial album because Rhapsody failed to identify that there was a problem with two tracks.  They consider a $2 credit fair enough, as I'm missing two songs.  I still maintain that this wasn't about a song count, but rather about an album.  I'm terribly disappointed and can only hope that if you're reading this you learn something about Rhapsody that might be of service to you.

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