Saturday, October 25, 2014

iTunes' attempt to save me from myself

iTunes thinks I am my own worst enemy, because I tried to rent Enemy twice.

But let me back the story up a bit.

For about two months now I have been living and dying by the weekly 99-cent movie rental on iTunes. This was not something I used to regularly check, but once Joe and The Lunchbox -- both movies from this year that I really wanted to see -- came up in consecutive weeks, iTunes thrust itself forward as a reliable new source for cheap rentals of (relatively) new releases. Nowadays, I look forward to the beginning of each new week, simply to see the change in the offerings.

Unfortunately, it's been a bit of a string of disappointments since then. Not necessarily because the movies they offered weren't objectively interesting, but because I had either already seen them or because they didn't quite qualify for this year. (I'm in my stretch of packing in 2014 movies before my ranking deadline in January). Then last week was the worst, when the 99-cent rental was a movie from 2001 -- Amores Perros. That's a really good movie, and I imagine the timing had to do with the release of Inarritu's latest film, Birdman. But it did represent a clear step backward in the likelihood that Apple would continue providing me affordable options for 2014 movies I hadn't seen.

Well, this week didn't change that -- I have already seen Denis Villeneuve's Enemy as well. In fact, I've already rented it from iTunes, at full price back when it was first released.

But the price was so cheap, and I really want to see this movie again, that I clicked on the option to rent it again.

Only, iTunes tried to stop the purchase.

"You have already rented this item. Are you sure you want to rent it again?"

At first I thought this was the result of a double-click. Like, maybe I had already started downloading the movie and then accidentally clicked to rent it again. Ninety-nine cents is a really good price for one of my favorite movies of the year, but I don't need to have two copies of it on my hard drive.

Then I realized that iTunes was remembering my previous rental of the movie back in July. It wanted to make sure I remembered it before proceeding with the transaction.

Well, that's mighty sporting. Here you had a clear, guilt-free path to my 99 cents, and yet you forfeited it the name of good customer service. Have to say I am a bit tickled by that.

What's funny is that I actually did have a few flickering thoughts of buyer's remorse after I'd already started the download and walked away. I thought "Do I really need to be watching this again, when there are so many other movies from 2014 I need to see for the first time? I know I love the movie, so watching it again has nothing to do with confirming its spot in my rankings."

Then I came back to the computer and discovered that my download had not actually started, because of this warning message. I still had the chance to cancel.

And I still went forward with the purchase.

So if you have any doubts about whether you should seek out this movie, let my $4.98 in iTunes rentals, on separate occasions, try to reassure you otherwise.

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