At first, I wasn't sure about buying music digitally. I wouldn't have a hard backup copy in case anything happened, and it felt like I was getting less for my money because I wouldn't then own the bands cover art/lyric sheets etc. But, albums on iTunes are usually slightly cheaper, so it made enough sense. I didn't purchase much from iTunes though. I spent gift cards mostly that I received from family and friends. But the more stuff I got, the better I felt with my purchases and the process in general.
Cut to now, years later, when I have bought many albums from the iTunes store. Since I use it so often for apps, I often buy music from it now. I felt safe buying online. I backed up my purchases, so if I lost the files I have a backup. I have recommended buying off iTunes to many friends who were also similarly hesitant, assure them of my good experiences.
One of my first purchases from the iTunes music store all the way back in 2006 was the Richard Cheese album The Sunny Side of the Moon. Well, a few weeks ago, I decided to listen to some Richard Cheese again since it had been a while. To my surprise, the song I was listening to was censored! Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I would not have purchased the censored version. I checked the rest of the album, and the whole album was the censored. I knew the files I had were not censored before, but they were now. So were my backups! Yet, all the files were still labeled "Explicit".
So, I was like WTF? Well, turns out, I updated my files late last year to iTunes Plus using their auto update feature. I paid a fee, and it went through all my iTunes purchases and redownloaded them in higher quality. Somehow, iTunes fucked up and downloaded the censored versions of the Richard Cheese songs instead, but kept the "Explicit" labels from the original files. I hadn't listen to that album of Richard Cheese for a while, so it took me a while to notice this problem.
I of course, emailed iTunes about this. I would copy/past the emails here, but it ended up being a 10 email exchange and rather boring to read. Let me sum up the majority of the emails:
I explained to them the problem, and they issued me 1 song credit. That is, credit to buy a single 0.99 track. Which, isn't what I wanted, since the whole album was messed up/censored. I explained that, and he issued me 10 more song credits. Well, that doesn't work either, because The Sunny Side of the Moon has 18 songs in it. I send another email, reexplaining this and kindly asking for my songs.
They seem to be treating me like I purchased a version I didn't want and changed my mind, and it was my fault. But that wasn't the case, I purchased the version I wanted, and the files were silently replaced by the wrong versions much later automatically by iTunes. Eventually, the guy acknowledges this somewhat (or at least, implies so) but says the album is no longer on iTunes for purchase... Bullshit, a quick search and its right there, in 2 separate versions (censored, and explicit!). So that's just a lie.
I tried one last time to explain to them the problem, and how 11 song credits (which can't be used to purchase an album, btw, only individual tracks) are insufficient compensation.
I can find it easily on the iTunes store..
And it wasn't a unintentional purchase. I purchased, and had it, but
it was replaced without my knowledge. I didn't accidently buy the
censored version, my purchase logs will show I bought the explicit
version. Yet, the files I have on my harddrive are censored. As I
said, I am greatly offended by censored versions, and they are not
acceptable for me in any way.
All I want is what I paid for. I paid for an album, then paid to
update the quality of that album. It will cost me $17-$18 to buy each
track separately to rebuy what I should already own. Or $9.99 credit
to buy in album form. While 11 credits are the same cost as 9.99, I am
not interesting in buying 11 new tracks from iTunes (especially how
disappointed I am with how this case in being handled) so it is not a
sufficient compensation for this error made on your part, not mine.
I normally sing the praises of Apple, so I am rather surprised by the
reluctance to provide what I have purchased. I certainly will not
likely continue to buy music off the iTunes store if there is risk of
my songs becoming replaced/removed to no fault of my own and you are
unwilling to provide what I ordered.
What was apple's response?
I apologize for any frustration this may have caused you but I cannot give any more credits for this unintentional purchase. Your request for a refund for "The Sunny Side of the Moon - The Best of Richard Cheese"" was carefully considered; however, according to the iTunes Store Terms of Sale, all purchases made on the iTunes Store are final. This policy matches Apple's refund policies and provides protection for copyrighted materials.
You can review the iTunes Store Terms of Sale for more information:
iTunes Store Customer Support
I'm honestly way more surprised then upset. I thought of Apple as having good customer service. But in this very clear case of Apples fault, they basically screwed me over. Because its been so long, I only have backups of the iTunes Plus censored files. Besides, I purchased the high quality update, so I should own the high quality explicit versions.
Well, now I have 11 iTunes credits. Don't expect to use them anytime soon. I won't be purchasing any more music from iTunes ever again. If I am to expect to be treated like an idiot for "unintentionally purchasing" the wrong version, which I have receipts/purchase history/order numbers to prove I clearly bought the explicit versions, I certainly won't waste my money with their store anymore.
I'm sure my money will be better spent on other digital music services in the future. I may try out Amazons music store. But honestly, I'm think I'm gonna to just shell out the extra cash for a physical CD and rip it myself from now on.
Other buyers beware.