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iTunes Store becomes gripe central for iPod discontents

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Sunday, October 29, 2006
News Categories: iTunes

Want to buy a video or game for your iPod from the iTunes Store? Apple’s the only distributor, but if you visit its popular online shop these days, one of the first things you’ll see is the equivalent of picket lines: numerous complaints from users regarding software compatibility and Store business practices, stacking up as negative ratings for various downloadable items. On other downloads, you’ll see ad hoc debate societies, with comments on the new iTunes offerings attracting more user attention than the downloads themselves.

imageAmongst the video gripes: numerous comments in the Store’s South Park Season 10 section angrily note that after paying in advance for the latest season of the popular Comedy Central cartoon, users then discovered that the Store had split the episodes into “Season 10A” and “Season 10B,” forcing subscribers to pay more to receive the second half of the season. “i am yet another person screwed out of the full season 10 that i bought months ago,” wrote one commenter to Season 10B, “now there are two season tens? i tunes conveniently left that out when they first offered the season pass. scammers.” Hundreds of users are registering opinions - “helpful” or “not helpful” - on the South Park comments, some disagreeing with characterizations of the season-splitting as “deceptive,” and others claiming that they have written to Apple to complain without receiving satisfactory responses. Additional details can be found by clicking on the link below.

Video quality also continues to be an issue for some users, despite recent Apple promises of near-DVD quality iTunes Store downloads. In the “most helpful” review for the Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy, a user named “Media_Frenzy” writes that the “movie quality is bad… Some scenes are extremely distorted from - I’m guessing - over compression. ... I borrowed the Waterboy DVD from a friend who bought it at Walmart for $9.99. It’s sharp and clean. This can AND will effect my decision to make any more movie purchases via iTunes.” Other users added similar complaints, noting that voice synchronization and picture quality were off in their downloads.

Similarly, users are actively complaining about pricing and performance of iPod Games, with the most common complaints focused on users’ inability to play the new games on iPod nanos, in iTunes, or on older iPods. “i disagree with itunes on making this only [for] the ipod video,” said “crazyrocker” about Pac-Man, suggesting that it should be on the iPod nano as well, and that if other users agreed, they should ” ‘click yes this was helpful’ so itunes can [see] how many of us disagree with this.” Of the 5958 users who clicked, 5225 found it helpful; other comments in the games section routinely complain about high game price and refund problems, amongst other issues.

Not all of the comments are negative. In addition to numerous posts praising the content of some of the games, TV shows, and movies, users in the Store’s Movies section are debating the merits of paid video downloads versus DVD ripping, and coming to different conclusions. In the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl reviews, a user named Pondo poses the question “Download or DVD?,” discussing the merits of full-featured DVD purchases versus simpler iTunes movie downloads, while another user, “Armageddon Man,” challenges the store to improve its offerings to compete with the movie’s Special Edition DVD, which costs only “a few bucks more.”

Have you had issues with game, TV show, or movie downloads from the iTunes Store? Or found them to be fantastic? Positive or negative, leave your comments in the section below - we’d like to hear your thoughts.

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Comments

21

These fools need to grow up. If the download does please you, don’t buy any other video from them. But iTunes does not need to be FLAMED because of it. A few negative comments, but once people see that complaints have been posted already there is no need to post anymore. It becomes gratuitous, and it loses all merit.

Posted by Charles O. on October 30, 2006 at 9:19 AM (PDT)

22

“honeybee 1236” has raised one of those very annoying issues.  I’ve downloaded season 1 & 2 of Battlestar Galactica and the download is always interrupted from Apple’s side. Therefore, one has to monitor/babysit the computer for hours just to ensure the download completes.

Posted by Obadiah on October 30, 2006 at 9:21 AM (PDT)

23

I have bought a lot of video from iTunes store, and only a relatively small amount have had errors.  I have sent emails to apple, and they have always been good about giving me a credit for it.  The thing that bothers me is that they sometimes take weeks in order to fix the video, and they don’t tell you when it is fixed.  When you have a season pass to colbert or daily show, they will automatically send you a corrected video if a bad one was sent.

I think the best solution is that apple implement a policy of having correcting a bad video within a week, and sending everybody who bought the video the corrected version automatically.  That way if you haven’t seen it yet, by the time you see it, it might already be corrected.

I also think that more people need to complain when they get a bad video, otherwise they are not going to do anything.  I have seen a lot of new video that are not being cropped and have black borders, and no one is complaining (You read the reviews and no one is complaining in them, and they have not been pulled).  Black borders have never been there before, and it might not be a big deal but think about it.  Those black border take up encoding bandwith, so it will affect the over all quality of the video.

There also have to be SOME quality control.  I purchased recently Season 2 of 24, and there were 3 videos with problems.  If iTunes looked at the length of the video they should have know there was a problem and fixed it before they released it.  I mean Ep. 1 was an 1:06 long (the show is in real time how can it be more that 1 hour?!?!).  If you see the video you will notice that the tape was rewound and they encoded an extra 20 minutes.  Same with Ep. 3, tape rewound, 6 extra minutes.  And there was an episode that was missing 6 minutes (which were VERY important to the story line).  If the person who encoded it would have looked at the average length of the episodes they could have fixed it before they release it.  It had been selling for 1 month before I bought, yet it wasn’t until I complained (which makes me wonder if anybody complains) they they pulled 2 episodes.  Episode 3 with the extra 6 minutes is still there and they have not posted the corrected videos for the other 2 and it’s been about 2 weeks.

I understand that there will be issues, but they need to be more aggressive in fixing them.

Posted by Ruben on October 30, 2006 at 9:37 AM (PDT)

24

Just to comment on the download issues, with iTunes 7 I have had a lot more problems downloading with DSL, when I switched to cable I had a lot fewer problems.  It has to do with the number of downloads iTunes does now, it does 3 instead of one and then seems to wreak havoc on my DSL.  They really should have an option to select how many downloads you want to do simultaneously, people with slower connections can select 1 at a time and that should fix a lot of problems.

Posted by Ruben on October 30, 2006 at 9:58 AM (PDT)

25

I noticed quite a few more problems with itms downloading once they released itunes 7.  episodes of television shows would download flawlessly until the update when i would, as honeybee has said, have to babysit every episode i downloaded.

also, what about the baloney with heroes initially only being available in the form of the current episode, then they started carrying all episodes, then they offered a season pass.  i have already paid for those first episodes individually, so no i can’t purchase the season pass unless i want to waste that money already spent.

as the slowness and inconsistency with releasing project runway episodes was ridiculous.

Posted by fogues on October 30, 2006 at 10:09 AM (PDT)

26

I picked up all 5 episodes of Heroes this weekend. Quality was great on my 24 inch iMac.

To poster Chibitthulhu re: comment #10,  perhaps you don’t have the new iPod with video. I bought some video and watched it on the plane on a recent business trip. It was very nice to have - much better than sporting around a portable DVD player or laptop. Also, in case you hadn’t noticed, Apple is adding all of these extra features without raising the price. How can you ##### about aded features when they don’t cost you any more than the previous model?!?!?!

Posted by i, Jimbot on October 30, 2006 at 10:16 AM (PDT)

27

fogues—I think your right they should prorate season passes if they release them after people started to buy episodes.  If they offered it from day one, then thats a different story.

I also think that they should prorate incomplete sets, right now a bunch of videos albums have to purchased one by one (which is more expensive) because one video is being fixed.  They should prorate these albums for people who want them a price break.

Posted by Ruben on October 30, 2006 at 10:16 AM (PDT)

28

I’ve really enjoyed the games I’ve purchased for my vPod. I especially like Vortex, which is a fantastic game, and Pac Man. Yep, Pac Man. A lot of people seem to complain about the controls in Pac Man, and I can understand why some might find it hard to control, but I don’t. The controls work quite well for me, and it’s the perfect time-killer game. I also have Zuma and Cubis 2. They get a lot less play than Vortex and Pac Man, but they are both well executed games. My only complaint is that they haven’t come out with any new games yet - I’m not interested in the other current options.

Posted by Crunchewy on October 30, 2006 at 10:38 AM (PDT)

29

I’ve always had a good experience with the iTunes store. Many people nitpick at everything. If you want DVD quality picture, go buy a DVD.

Posted by John on October 30, 2006 at 10:47 AM (PDT)

30

In the case of “Heroes,” Apple probably didn’t offer a season pass option early on because nobody knew how long the season would be. NBC didn’t order a full season until shortly before the third episode (once it appeared to be a hit).

There were also legal issues with the pilot episode, because the maker of the garbage disposal sued NBC for showing their product cutting up Claire’s hand. (Real garbage disposals have much better safety features than that.) The maker tried to bar future airings, and NBC pulled the episode from iTunes (for a while) as a result. Supposedly, that scene has since been edited in some way, but I can’t confirm this.

While customer service for the iTunes Store should fall squarely on Apple’s shoulders, some of the issues people are complaining about (particularly price, availability, options) are because of the film studios and the record companies.

Posted by BJ Nemeth on October 30, 2006 at 11:34 AM (PDT)

31

Is the iTunes Store perfect? Of course not. But I have bought hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of songs and videos from the iTunes Store since it opened in 2003, and haven’t had any problems with quality, downloads, or anything else. I understand what I’m buying, and I have always received what I have expected.

Do you want CD-quality music?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

Do you want DVD-quality films?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

Do you want DVD bonus features?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

Do you want DRM-free music and movies?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

Do you want Playstation quality games?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

Do you want face-to-face customer service before or after a sale?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

Fortunately, iTunes is just one of many options available to consumers. Aside from a few “iTunes Exclusives,” everything they sell is available elsewhere, often for a comparable price and with higher quality.

The world isn’t one-size-fits-all, and neither is the iTunes Store.

Posted by BJ Nemeth on October 30, 2006 at 12:06 PM (PDT)

32

Why! Why cant everything be perfect!!!!

Posted by unreal on October 30, 2006 at 12:18 PM (PDT)

33

I’m gonna guess that if Apple promised steak dinners to customers but instead handed out bowls of lentils that some people, merely because it is Apple, would tell everyone to sit down, shut up, and be happy that Apple is even serving up anything at all!  Pfft…

Posted by Obadiah on October 30, 2006 at 1:07 PM (PDT)

34

I have been purchasing songs and videos from the iTunes store since 2004 (videos after, of course). When I was running Windows with iTunes I had a problem with a song not completing. Calling customer service resolved it. After switching to a Mac I have had ZERO problems with downloads. And, no, I’m not saying you need to switch to a Mac. Just telling my experience.

Posted by MacDan2004 on October 30, 2006 at 1:09 PM (PDT)

35

BJ: It’s nice you’ve been downloading from iTunes for quite a while. Great for them! But a couple (and I state: ONLY a couple) of the questions that you’ve treated rhetorically (even though they are not) you posted need to be corrected.

Do you want CD-quality music?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

[Wrong. Quite simply: Wrong. People who say that they can actually hear a difference between 128 kbps AAC used in iTunes and the original CD are liars. There is no detectable difference, by means of the human ear. Only a machine could possibly tell the difference.]

Do you want DVD-quality films?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

[This is actually true. But so what. If you want DVD-quality, then go buy the DVD of the movie, lazy.]

Do you want DVD bonus features?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

[Did you buy the DVD? Obviously you didn’t because you’re complaining about this. Well, no DVD bonus features if you don’t buy the DVD itself. Stop whining.]

Do you want DRM-free music and movies?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

[You and all the other nutbars who complain about DRM should buy the actual CD and be done with it.]

Do you want Playstation quality games?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

[They never promised the games would be that good, so they’re not exactly letting anyone down.]

Do you want face-to-face customer service before or after a sale?
The iTunes Store is not for you.

[Hey, you bought it over the internet NOT in an actual, physical, tangible store ... and you expect face-to-face customer service. LOL.]


Obadiah: Wrong, pal. If this figurative “steak” tastes bad, say so but after a few complaints have been made there is no need for more.

Posted by Charles O. on October 30, 2006 at 1:41 PM (PDT)

36

I don’t know why anyone would suggest or expect ‘near-DVD’ quality in a movie download designed for the masses and display on a 2.5” screen.

Stupidest thing I’ve heard in a while.  Sure, you can pump your iPod’s video to a TV, but if you’re doing it to anything larger than a 27” screen, it’s going to look like crap.

Posted by Tim on October 30, 2006 at 1:50 PM (PDT)

37

I don’t know how the conversation veered so much.  Most of the people buying the videos (Like me) are expecting near-DVD quality, we are not asking for more.

But what I do expect it be properly encoded.  And, yes apple does the encoding, not the studios.  I have seen videos end prematurely, run long because the tape was rewound, have scenes garbled (which have nothing to do with the AAC compression, but rather bad source), sound out of sync, hissing sounds, encoded with a data rate not supported by the iPod, and dropped frames.

What is really annoying is the fact they take too long to fix the problem, and that they do not notify you when it is fixed!

Posted by Ruben on October 30, 2006 at 2:16 PM (PDT)

38

Charles O.—I never meant for those questions to be rhetorical. I was suggesting that critics ask themselves those questions before making a purchase, and if they answer “Yes,” they should consider buying their music or movies somewhere else.

I have never used NetFlix; it’s not for me. But I don’t bash NetFlix, because it’s a great fit for a lot of people who AREN’T me. If the iTunes Store doesn’t suit your needs, that’s fine. It’s a great fit for a lot of people, including me. smile

Posted by BJ Nemeth on October 30, 2006 at 3:10 PM (PDT)

39

I started to click the ‘report a concern’ link on all the frivolous reviews of movies, cd’s and shows I was interested in, that were really complaints and had nothing to do with the item itself. guess what, those ‘reviews’ disappeared. I like to read the reviews, but they should be of the content itself…. Hope others will do the same

Posted by MarcelV on October 30, 2006 at 4:46 PM (PDT)

40

Man the apple fanbois are really full of it. If you go to the iTunes store and they promise a near dvd quality video they should deliver a near dvd quality video with no synch issues and without obvious video glitches. If they deliver a video that has obvious glitches, the audio-vid is out of synch then you have every right to complain however much you want because the service apple is promising to give you is not being met. People weren’t complaining that the shows didn’t look exactly like the DVD, they were complaining that the video was distorted, the audio out of sync etc etc… The least apple could do is make sure that they deliver on their promise…

Also, if apple promises a season pass they should honor the entire season. People didn’t buy a half season pass… they got a SEASON pass. Changing the terms of the agreement after the fact is misleading and is illegal no matter what the eula says.

Posted by Victor on October 30, 2006 at 7:02 PM (PDT)

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