Sunday, November 30, 2008

How iTunes May Be Stealing Your Music and Your Money

Like many of you who may purchase songs from the iTunes store on a regular basis, I naturally assumed that all my purchases were mine to keep forever and ever. But then a few weeks ago, I began to notice a number of songs missing from my playlists. Not only that, but all the movies I had purchased through iTunes were no longer available when I clicked on their icons

At first, I thought maybe they’d somehow been deleted from the iTunes library, but were probably still somewhere on my hard drive in the iTunes folder. However, upon searching for a few of the missing songs, I couldn’t find them anywhere. And the movies were nowhere to be found either.

Naturally, I immediately went to the iTunes store to try and find a phone number for their customer service department. And guess what? There isn’t one. The only way you’re supposed to be able to contact iTunes is through their “convenient” e-mail form. Not satisfied that there wasn’t some other way to reach them, I did a thorough search of Google to find something that resembled a phone number for customer service. Eventually, I just called the regular Apple hotline and asked to be transferred to the iTunes store. After being bounced back and forth from one Apple employee to another, I was eventually told the ONLY way to get my issue resolved was by filling out their “convenient” e-mail form. Which is not only IN-convenient, but also guarantees that your problem is not going to be resolved any time over the next twenty-four hours.

What kind of customer service is that? And since I was already freaking out over the missing music, the fact that I had to retain this anger for another few days was not making me a happy customer.

Nevertheless, I waited patiently until one of the representatives (from India, I believe) eventually wrote me back with an even more disturbing question. Have I ever backed up my iTunes library? Of course, my answer was no, as I never thought I needed to do such a thing---once the music was on my hard drive, why would I need to back it up? And what difference would that make anyway, since my iTunes folder and the iTunes store were too different entities, were they not? It’s not like once something is no longer available at the iTunes store, it’s automatically going to be taken out of my iTunes library, is it?

In my case, the answer was yes. And though the customer service person offered to let me re-download all the songs I’d previously gotten from iTunes as a back-up, he also let me know that if a song was no longer available on iTunes, or for some reason, the original product had changed, it would no longer be available for me to download. In fact, the customer service person was very helpful in compiling a list of all the songs I would not be receiving again….over 300 of them. And yet, he offered no explanation as to why the music or movies were “taken” out of my Library in the first place.

I’m beginning to wonder if their new Genius software, that is supposed to help the iTunes store figure out what kind of music you like best, may actually be removing some of your music they don’t recognize during their search process. Either that, or whenever you update iTunes, something in the process is filtering out older content. I don’t’ know which, but I still do not have a satisfactory answer as to why over $300 of my purchase was taken away from me. If I found a way to steal over $300 worth of product from the iTunes store, I’m sure they wouldn’t be happy about it. And yet, all I’ve gotten so far is an apology for my misfortune, and a warning to back up my purchases in the future on a regular basis.

But that’s just me. Have any of you had a similar experience with iTunes?

12 comments:

Roxy's Best Of... said...

Wow, Henson...that's unnerving. I haven't had that experience, but I always worry about things vanishing from my iTunes library. I'd say that out of about 9,000 songs in my library, maybe 7,000 came from CDs and 2,000 came from various downloads...I have the backup CDs, but it's rare that I back up the downloads. Scary to think that the Genius I've had so much fun with lately might be disappearing pieces of my collection. I'm going to look into it.

Roxy

Roxiticus Desperate Housewives said...

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David said...

That's scary. How can they take stuff out of your computer? Forgive my naivety, but I thought stuff in my computer was mine.

Judy said...

Nope, not me...no problem whatsoever! Don't have an iPod OR iTunes and I'm adding your post as another reason why I don't! LOL

desperateblogger said...

umm.. i wonder how the tunes you downloaded and saved in your library are gone.... very mysterious....

Grandy said...

I didn't even realize any of that was possible! Dang big brother is resorting to ripping off now?

UGH!!

TheSnackHound said...

Oh that bites. Well, maybe the thing that gives you suggestions of what music you may like based on prior interests cannot believe what kind of music you pick based on what type of person they THOUGHT you were. Like if someone buys up all Juice Newton songs and then suddenly picks a Japanese language death metal coverband, the system will self destruct like someone got into your iTunes account and committed fraud.

Henson Ray said...

Roxy--I still haven't resolved this issue, but right now I just don't have any time. I have so many projects going on, I can't seem to concentrate on finding out what happened. UGH!

Roxy--Done!

David--I was under the same impression, but I think it has something to do with their new Genius software. Can't think of any other way they could see what I have.

Judy--Probably smart not to get involved with iTunes. But an iPod is a great device to have.

desperateblogger--I'm sure it's all part of some big conspiracy designed to rob and steal us blind.

Grandy--You gotta wonder...if they can steal my tunes, what else might they be stealing?

Thesnackhound--interesting idea. I never thought they might be trying to change my musical tastes...and believe it or not, I do have some Juice Newton...

SG Entrepreneur said...

I have had Album Artwork go missing after synching- that is really annoying.

Other issues I've had that I think are "genius" related is sometimes my shuffle mode won't work or I can't sync.

This is in relation to my iphone btw- no issue on the desktop itunes.

I turned off "genius" and haven't had a problem since.

Dave said...

so true, Itunes has terrible customer service they may be geniuses but your always led to email i recently lost over 3000 songs and 10 videos and when i sent mail to there mail address i got an automated reply and some apple stickers (at this point i kind of had an angry laugh) but anyways i think genius might be the reason for this crap, as soon as i downloaded it onto my computer bam... music gone.

Anonymous said...

They are going down....

Ronnie Gray said...

As a PC user I noticed while downloading itunes when it gets to the sharing the box is automatically checked by itunes and unable to remove that you agree to share all your music library videos pictures with itunes. That's piracy ! I've 170 gigs of music . That's how the rich get richer and the poorer pay for it.