Some may complain about the way Apple does things, but I recently had an experience with iTunes Music Store (iTMS) customer support that was incredible. I have to say that I’m even more of a fan boy of the iTMS than I was before.
First, you should know that I have always liked Winamp for playing music on the computer — not the really old version (Winamp 2.x) but the newer version with modern skins (5.x). Years ago, when the iTunes store first opened, I was very excited about the convenience of online purchasing of digital music, but I was not excited about being locked into using iTunes for playback. At the all the songs at the iTMS were encoded at 128KB and included digital rights management (DRM) which limited you to only using the songs on Apple iPods or (up to) five authorized computers, and only with iTunes as the playback software. This was a restriction I was willing to live with for the ease of online buying.
More recently, the iTunes store upgraded all their music to something called iTunes Plus, which is encoded at a higher bit-rate (=higher quality sound) and no DRM. This is freeing because now you can use any playback software you want (yay, back to Winamp!) Even better was how easy they made it to upgrade existing purchases to the new format: all you have to do is log into the iTMS and click the “iTunes Plus” link on the right side. You should be presented with the option to upgrade earlier purchases to the new format at a reduced cost, usually only 30¢ per song (if an upgraded version of the song is available.)
The problem was I didn’t get offered an upgrade for all of my old purchases. Specifically, I had 23 songs that I really wanted to update to the new higher-quality format but couldn’t through normal channels. Since everything sold is supposed to be iTunes Plus, I searched to see if all the songs I had were available and, with one exception, they were.
I called Apple support and they directed me to the iTunes Music Store support chat, http://tinyurl.com/c29va3 (bookmark that link!) After about one minute, Barbara B. joined me and asked how she could help. I explained the situation and she replied that it can sometimes take a while for the upgrade version becomes available — even if the higher quality version is available for new purchases. After a few more questions, she offered as a courtesy to let me purchase ALL 23 songs new and she would refund the charges!
So, not only did I get the rest of my library upgraded, I got to do it for free!
If you ask me, that just ROCKS!