Friday, December 2, 2016

A plan to amass free movies

I've had a number of customer service needs from iTunes over the years, with downloads acting screwy and whatnot. And I'm pleased to say that their customer support has always reinforced the good name of Apple, making good in ways that always left me satisfied.

But before the past week I've never had a customer service case quite this complicated ... nor have I been left quite this satisfied with the way they've (ultmately) resolved it. (Or so I assume, as I am writing this before the final solution has been proven, nor the make good been realized.)

Let me rewind to last week. Actually, let me rewind to November 12th.

On the 12th of November, I rented the documentary Life, Animated as that week's 99-cent movie of the week. (Or perhaps it was the 99-cent independent movie. I can't remember.) Are you with me so far?

A week later on the 19th, I rented Maggie's Plan, which was definitely that week's 99-cent indie movie. This was where I first noticed something unusual. Life, Animated should have had 23 days left on the rental window, but its clock had been mysteriously reset to 30 days with Maggie's arrival. I thought it was peculiar, but the error was in my favor so I didn't think anything more of it.

As I told you in this post, I downloaded and watched Krisha on Thanksgiving, last Thursday. When I started watching it, another unexpected synchronization occurred -- this one not in my favor. When I started Krisha and launched its 24-hour viewing window before expiration, the clock started ticking on the other two movies as well. I closed and reopened iTunes, and same result. I checked again the next day and indeed the hours continued to dindle -- first 12, then 6, then expired. I had no intention of watching either movie before that 24 hours was up, nor should I have needed to. So I knew it would mean reporting the problem to iTunes.

I got off on the wrong foot in reporting the problem in two ways. First of all, it was Thanksgiving day in the U.S. when I reported it. If there's ever a time for something to slip through the cracks, it's when coming in on the first day of a four-day weekend. (I use the U.S. version of iTunes, after all.) But then I also reported it as a problem with Krisha rather than a problem with either Life, Animated or Maggie's Plan, in part because I could find the Report a Problem button with Krisha but couldn't figure out how to locate it for the other two. (Krisha was listed at the top, being my most recent purchase -- I had to drill down one level deeper for the other two, but did not immediately realize that.)

I was promised a response within 24 to 48 hours, but the entire four-day weekend elapsed in the U.S. without hearing anything. So on Tuesday (or was it Wednesday?) resubmitted the request for help. This time I submitted requests on both of the other two movies, referring back to the original case number I'd been given in the automated response to my Krisha request.

This time an agent did respond, apologetic for the delay, and to make up for it, credited my account with two $4.99 rental credits, in addition to restoring the two lost movies to my available downloads folder. Good deal.

Except when I went to check for available downloads, only Life, Animated started to download. This was in the morning before work yesterday. So I decided to let that movie download, then check back after I got home to see if Maggie's Plan would show up then.

It did not. But something else did happen: A second copy of Life, Animated began to download. Another email back to Apple.

This morning I've gotten another response from Apple that the issue should finally be cleared up now (only read it at work so I have yet to check) and that another two $4.99 credits have been assigned to my account as another apology for the inconvenience.

So now I should have $20 in iTunes credits in addition to the two movies I originally planned to watch, with fresh 30-day viewing windows, which I otherwise might have been pressing to get to before they expired.

At this point I can't assume that the issue is resolved once and for all, that there won't be another synchronization of viewing windows when I go to watch one of the movies, or even that Maggie's Plan will be available for download when I get home.

However, more errors by Apple will only mean more free movies for me.

And it couldn't come at a better time. This is the time of year when I'm trying to catch up with movies before my year-end list gets published six weeks from now, and iTunes is especially useful as it gives me access to movies that came out in the U.S. a while ago but may only just be getting released in Australia (like The Family Fang, which I talked about in this post.) I'd allocate the money for them anyway, but this year I can't really afford it as we're trying to watch our costs ahead of the trip to the U.S. three weeks from now.

So now I'll have $20 to spend on my next x number of movies, and won't have to be stingy and limit myself to the 99-cent rentals.

And perhaps more if my downloaded rentals keep going on the fritz.

No comments: