Thursday, October 1, 2009

Now That’s Customer Service!

A few months ago, I was horrified to discover that the RAID I use to store our family’s iLife—photos, movies, web sites, and music—had suffered severe header corruption. For those of you that don’t know what this means, the header is sort of like the index to the drive. Imagine a 10,000-page reference book that you use every single day. This book includes a 500-page index, so you can easily find what you need. Then one day, you notice that some of the page numbers are suddenly wrong: about 10% of the time, if you look up term A, it gives you the page number for term L, or Z, or W. That’s a pretty good description of header corruption, except that at least with a book, you can flip through until you find the right page. Without an accurate disk header, the computer can’t find the right data at all.

Now, all this shouldn’t be so bad, since I’m extremely conscientious about backing things up. Unfortunately, the backup software I was using at the time was so good that it dutifully backed up the header corruption, bit by bit, giving me an absolutely perfect backup of the original corruption. Niiiiiice.

Well, suffice to say that, through a combination of great recovery utilities and just dumb luck (a lot of the photos were also on one or more completely different hard drives), I’ve slowly but surely recovered just about everything and have taken some steps (regular consistency checks, different backup utility, etc.) to ensure that we don’t have a repeat performance. Unfortunately, there were still about fifty songs that I wasn’t able to recover, and that’s where the title of this entry comes in.

Of the fifty or so tracks that were missing, about a quarter were downloaded from eMusic and about half were downloaded from iTunes. I e-mailed both companies, informing them of the situation and asking if I could possibly receive replacement copies of the missing tracks (assuming, of course, that they were even still available). I received the following responses:

eMusic: oh wait…. eMusic didn’t respond at all.


Hi Jeff,

Leanne here, from iTunes Customer Support. I understand you're missing some of your purchases. I can appreciate how eager you may be to have this resolved and I'll be more than happy to help you with this today.

I have posted the missing items to your account. I do need to mention that I was unable to restore every item in your order. When an item is modified in the iTunes Store, or removed entirely, we no longer have access to the original one that you ordered. This is what I couldn't restore:

(names of four tracks that are no longer available)

For this inconvenience, I have issued 4 replacement song credits to your iTunes Store account. You can use these to buy the individual songs of your choice from the iTunes Store.

Did you see that? Not only did iTunes replace almost every track I lost, but I received store credit for those that couldn’t be replaced! Leanne then went on to give me instructions on how to go about downloading the tracks (in case I didn’t happen to know) and even included her work schedule, just in case I needed anything else. I wrote back thanking her—as I often do, when I receive good service. However, unlike virtually every other time I’ve done so, she actually wrote back to me again!

Dear Jeff,

Leanne here, from the iTunes Store. I'm glad to hear that I was able to help you.

You are a valued member of the Apple family and your experience with the iTunes Store is of the utmost importance to us. Nothing makes Apple happier than to hear that we have satisfied our customers. I wish you the best and hope that you continue to enjoy the iTunes Store.

Thank you for choosing Apple and I hope you have a fabulous day!

With Warm Regards,

iTunes Store Customer Support

Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t think for a moment that part—perhaps even all—of her latter response wasn’t canned. Heck, I’m sure at least the instructions in the first e-mail were canned, too. However, I think this just goes to prove the old adage: “If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” Which of these two companies do you think will be getting my business in the future?

1 comment:

  1. With stories of bad customer service abounding, it's nice to hear stories of positive experiences. I, too, have had similar positive run-ins with iTunes' customer service staff. Glad to hear that your backup situation is stable and that you've recovered a large amount of what you had feared lost for good.