My First iTunes Support Experience

The Setup

I recently purchased three albums from iTunes. After downloading them, syncing them to my iPod, and listening through them I was happy. While driving the next day, I thought I’d shuffle through the playlist I had created with the new tracks. I quickly discovered that all the tracks on one of the albums had a flaw that was only evident when shuffling them. Tracks 2 through 17 were missing the first 2 seconds, and tracks 1 through 16 had the first 2 seconds of the following track tacked on to the end. This is easy enough to fix in Audacity, but I felt it important to report to iTunes, if only to call their attention to the issue so they could fix it before too many others reported it.

Requesting Support

After surfing through the apple.com site for a bit, I finally landed on their Express Lane Support page. I had to dig around a bit more before I found “Quality of purchased content” under “Purchases, Billing & Redemption.” I filled in the information required and opened a case describing the issue. An automated message stating my support request would be responded to within 24 hours came back very quickly.

Initial Response

The “real live person” response came back within 4 hours of posting the complaint. Impressive, since I posted my complaint at about 12:20 AM. The responding service representative apologized and gave detailed instructions on how to delete and re-download the content. I as pretty sure this would not resolve the issue (it wasn’t a corrupt download, as they seemed to think), but I went through the motions anyway. Upon listening to the re-downloaded content, I confirmed that the issue was not resolved and replied to the service representative, advising them that I believed the source files on their servers were not correct.

The Final Response

Hello Kenneth,

X here again from the iTunes Store Support. I am very sorry about my delay in responding to you. I have been away from the office for the last 2 days. I understand the album is still incorrect. When it comes to your money, I can certainly appreciate how important it is to feel that you are treated fairly, and I would be more than happy to help you out with this today.

I’m sorry to learn that this item did not meet the standard of quality you have come to expect from the iTunes Store. I have submitted this item for investigation. Apple takes the quality of the items offered on the iTunes Store seriously and will investigate the issue with this item, but I can’t say when or if the issue will be resolved.

In five to seven business days, a credit of $9.99 should be posted to your card that appears on the receipt for that purchase.

Kenneth, I want to thank you for choosing the iTunes Store and for being such a big part of the iTunes family.

Thank you for contacting iTunes Store Customer Support. Have a great day.

Fix It Yourself

Given that response, I had no choice but to spend some time in Audacity repairing the tracks. The general procedure was as follows:

  1. Open the first track in Audacity. This imports it to a native format used by Audacity for manipulation.
  2. Jump to the end and copy the bit at the end which belongs to the following track.
  3. Open the second track in Audacity and paste the first two seconds into their rightful place
  4. Zoom in on the pasted part and remove the slight pause introduced by the copy/paste operation. I progressively zoomed in and removed large blank spaces until I was zoomed as far as I could, then I matched up the two ends, deleting the last bit of silence.
  5. Listen to the second track to make sure it was a seamless paste (and the right song).
  6. Go back to the first track and delete the tail end. Export that track to .mp3 and .m4a (AAC) formats. Close that track.
  7. The open second track becomes your “first track”, and the “second track” becomes the following track. Start again at step 2 above.

After all the tracks were repaired (I worked on a copy from out of iTunes), I deleted the originals from iTunes and re-imported the repaired versions. I then had to go through and repair the tagging, as it was a bit messed up. For some reason, the tagging didn’t import consistently from the Apple versions (either that or it was inconsistent to begin with).

I wonder how many free copies of this album they’ll give out before they correct the files on their server? I wonder how many people will complain and get a refund vs. the number who will just put up with the issue? I wonder how many other albums are messed up on this way?