Microsoft Is Very Sorry You Won't Receive Your Valentine's Day Edition Zune On Time

Cupid is helping Microsoft whisper sweet apologies to customers who may not receive their Valentine’s Day edition Zune until after February 14. Even though the players are en route, the company has promised full refunds to any scorned Zune buyers.

Ars Tech reprinted Microsoft’s letter:

We wanted to provide you with an update on your order status. Due to some issues in our fulfillment center there remains a chance we will miss getting your Zune to you by February 14th. We are working hard to get your order to you as quickly as possible and we currently plan to ship your Zune within the next 3-4 days. Once your order is in transit, we will send you a shipping confirmation with a link for tracking.

Our goal is to provide a smooth customer experience for ordering, customization, and delivery. We sincerely apologize for not meeting that goal in this specific case. We will be refunding the entire amount of your order, which you should be able to see on your credit/debit card within 7-10 days. We hope you love your Zune and that you will accept our sincere apology.

If you have additional questions, please call 1.877.GET.ZUNE. For fastest service, press 5 then press 1 and have your order information ready.

The Zune Originals Team

We’re not saying there’s a connection, but this is the same response we featured last week from Tiffany & Co. Good work, Microsoft.

Microsoft says “sorry” with free Valentine’s Zune 80 players [Ars Technica]

Comments

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  1. DeadlySinz says:

    typical microsoft.

  2. chrisfromnl says:

    Can I still order one and get it for free?

  3. the wording in this letter is so dicey. does it imply that they are shipping the zunes late AND will issue a refund? they are making it sound like people who ordered can both have their cake and eat it too. unless this is fish cake, something aint right

  4. shan6 says:

    @DeadlySinz: Riiight…

    This is an excellent show of customer service if you ask me. And it comes after they allow everybody with first generation Zune’s upgrade to the second gen firmware for free. Hopefully they will continue to show promise in the arena of taking care of your customers.

  5. spinachdip says:

    As much as I like to mock Microsoft (and they give plenty of reason to), they handled this as well as you could expect anyone to.

    They anticipated a problem before it became a problem, was up front about it, and offered amends. And there are still 3 business days left before VD, enough time, albeit barely, for Plan B.

  6. varco says:

    You guys were on this pretty late. I saw this on engadget/gizmodo a few days ago.

    The other interesting angle to this is that the problem shipping the products on time was a result of demand. They sold a lot more than they thought they would and, as a result, had to make more. Then they gave them away for free to make amends.

  7. ratnerstar says:

    Buying your lover a Zune for Valentine’s Day doesn’t bode well for the relationship, anyway.

  8. Does MS compensate for what else you won’t be getting if you show up empty-handed on V-day? [insert rimshot here.]

  9. varco says:

    @ratnerstar: Totally. It doesn’t even have a scroll wheel or a silhouette of fruit on it.

  10. Rask says:

    Wow, A classy move by Microsoft and the iPod zealots still find a way to shit all over it..

  11. spinachdip says:

    @Rask: err, what?

  12. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I bet Microsoft surprised themselves with the unexpected demand. ;-)

    I guess consumers should learn something out of this.. when ordering special order or customized products, you should probably expect a delay. Plan accordingly.

  13. Aphex242 says:

    @DeadlySinz: Yeah. Typical. People have said I’m an MS fanboy (I’m not) but you’d have to be a mouth breather to not grasp how this is an example of excellent customer service.

  14. ophmarketing says:

    Those eight people who ordered Zunes are going to be really happy!

  15. West Coast Secessionist says:

    How awesome. You know, sometimes I find myself wanting to scream at MS for some shortcoming and say “OH MY GOD. YOU HAVE MORE MONEY THAN GOD. CAN’T YOU AFFORD TO JUST _________??” (you know, fix Windows, make a Mac client for Zune, make a standards-compliant browser, etc.)

    But this is one of those awesome times when they realized it. Here’s the conversation.

    Employee: Uh, Boss, we don’t have enough Zunes in our US warehouse to fill all the Valentine’s Day orders. What do we do? What could possibly make the customers still satisfied when we’ll fail to deliver a time-sensitive gift on time?

    Boss: Let me log onto online banking before I answer that. Hmmm… our bank account balance is still maxed out reading $ 999,999,999,999,999,999,999… Let’s just refund their money and ship the Zunes whenever they come in. That way they’ll be stoked to get a free Zune! The “free” will be remembered long after the Feb. 17th delivery date will.

    Employee: Oh that’s right, we can do that because we can so totally afford it!

  16. n/a says:

    The cake is a lie, and how much did these overpriced vday zunes cost anyways?

  17. amejr999 says:

    Good job MS. Believe it or not, their support is usually pretty good.

  18. woogychuck says:

    Wow, some people just aren’t happy with anything. MS pro-actively offer refunds and still ships Zunes, and people find a way to complain.

    Considering most other companies mentioned on this site in similar situations just “cancel” your order, this seems like a pretty kick ass thing to do.

    BTW. I own a Zune, my wife owns a Zune, and 3 other people in our office own them. We’re all big fans.

  19. ironchef says:

    @ratnerstar:

    LOL. How true!

  20. Riddar says:

    @D3Anon: “…and how much did these overpriced vday zunes cost anyways?”

    Same price as every other Zune 80, which is the same price as the 80GB iPod. The cost of the full engraving you choose is waived. Very easy to look up before complaining, by the way, it is on the front page.

    Oh, and the Zune 30 I have is great, for those that are interested. Like my iPod, but without the draconian DRM features.

  21. Joafu says:

    They still make zunes? As much fun as it is to rip on M$, they did a darn good thing here. With the rebate, you can buy an ipod, then your lover and you can have a qualitative analysis of both brands: exploring the ins and outs that both have to offer, getting to recognize and appreciate the terrain of each, making your partner squeal with delight when you find a new feature that neither of you had thought of before. Yes sir, it’ll be a good VD. Has anyone else recognized that both Valentine’s Day and Venereal Disease share the same acronym? Hmmm… Anyway, nice job Microsoft.

  22. spinachdip says:

    @Riddar: Okay, I sometimes get called “fanboy” for asking questions like this, but what “draconian DRM” are you talking about? For that matter, what DRM?

    There is no “DRM feature” on iPod. Or are you referring to the fact that iPods *can* play DRM-encrypted files from iTunes Music Store (like the Zune plays DRM-encrypted files from Zune Marketplace, but without the 3-play restriction)?

  23. Buran says:

    @D3Anon: There’s experiments to run and research to be done, too.

  24. Riddar says:

    @spinachdip: No, I simply mean the fact that it is damn difficult to get an iPod to give up its precious tracks back to a computer. Not impossible, but hard and many tools that do so are continually broken by updates.

    Zune is absolutely wonderful. My music is DRM free (ripped from CDs), and Microsoft, recognizing their business is not to prevent me from using my own legal music, allows me to plug my Zune into any computer and pull all music and movies off. I plug it in, and all music on the Zune can sync to the computer. Vice versa too, of course. For someone who shares a music collection with my brother, that is invaluable.

    Add that to the wireless transfers which allow non-DRMed tracks to be sent wirelessly from one Zune to another with *no* play restriction and my brother and I can actually share music with no headaches. This is very cool, of course; I can suddenly take the freedom that CDs allowed me in lending and actual ownership and apply it to digital music.

  25. Walrii says:

    @spinachdip: I was always under the impression that Plan B was supposed to be used within 24 hours AFTER the event, not 3 business days beforehand.

  26. Good work, Microsoft.

    *Scoffs*

  27. deserthiker says:

    Riddar,
    I have NO problem pulling all my tracks of my iPod to my Mac with a little third party app called Senuti. Works like a charm.

  28. Mr_Human says:

    But I think that’s Riddar’s point: you need a 3rd party app (read: kluge) to do it on an iPod, whereas that functionality is built into the Zune.

  29. Riddar says:

    @Mr_Human: Bingo. I once read a story, detailing how one non-computer savvy user bought the same song three times, once for each child, simply because it was the only way she knew how to do it. *Most* people would follow this route before transferring and authorizing a song on a new computer. Apple LOVES customers like this (as would any company). So Apple faces a win-win: added revenue from the non-savvy consumer and love from Record Companies that swoon at the mention of DRM and repeat sales. They chose that route. If Apple started serving the user first and the Music Label second, my opinions would be much different.

    While the Zune is by no means perfect and I can name 5 ways right now that MS nickels and dimes the customer too, they have managed to keep the eyes on the prize on the big problem – DRM. Zune software is such that people are not expected to rebuy their own music. I *could* download third party apps and break open a copy scheme that presumes guilt, or I could not have to. Simply plug in and enjoy a quick and seamless drag and drop file transfer. It is everything I would expect out of Apple- simple, fast, and stylish. Apple still hasn’t done it though.

  30. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I think the Zune could’ve been a huge hit if it didn’t require the Zune software. If they had just made it into a standard UMS or even MTP player, it would have appealed to a wider audience. The Zune hardware is great, but the software isn’t. It’s about as bloated as itunes.

  31. deadlizard says:

    Good for Microsoft. By no delivering the Zune for Valentine’s they possibly saved some relationships.

  32. Ghede says:

    I have to say good for Microsoft, genuinely. They made a mistake, and they are owning up to it. They are offering refunds for late-delivered Zunes, as well as offering a warning, giving you time to prepare a back-up gift.

  33. coren says:

    @D3Anon: Nothing! Are you saying they’d have to pay you to take one, what with a free zune being overpriced?

  34. vastrightwing says:

    Nothing tells your wife or girlfrind how much you love her by … getting her a Zune? How about a card, flowers, jewelry, a dinner? Almost anything without wires, batteries or controllers.

    Is M$ taking this very seriously?

  35. ihateauditions says:

    Say what you want about Microsoft, they’ve always been excellent at marketing.

    If I was half as good at marketing as MSFT, I’d be a brazillionaire.

  36. coaster.n3rd says:

    I got my Zune yesterday for my Birthday from my significant other and I love it. way better than any of the 3 iPods I have had that have broken.

  37. madanthony says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat:

    Word. The Zune software is horrible. I have one of the refurb brown zune’s from woot. It took me about 3 hours to get the device installed on my machine, trying it from the cd and the live installer.

    Then when the Zune2 software came out, I upgraded and every time I launched it my machine would crash. Turns out that the onboard video on my machine isn’t beefy enough to run the animations. I have to run it from a shortcut with a switch (-gdi) or it bombs. If I plug the zune in without already having the software running, it crashes.

    Now, granted, my machine isn’t exactly high end ($199 Celeron from one of those CompUSA midnight madness sales a few years back), but I shouldn’t need to upgrade my video card to PUT SONGS ON AN MP3 PLAYER!

  38. Xkeeper says:

    I love how, despite offering the same response as another company a few days ago (“Oops, we fucked up, have it for free”), and going with the absolute best practical solution, they still get shit all over in the comments section.

    Bravo, commenters! Bravo!

  39. Mo MoDo says:

    @ophmarketing: So they give away a grand worth of Zunes and get plenty of free publicity. I smell p.r. shenanigans.

  40. Ryuuie says:

    To the commenters who are bitching about this story regardless of how well MS handled it, what do you want them to do?

    Do you want Bill Gates HIMSELF to show up at YOUR HOUSE in a Cupid outfit, give you $1,000,000,000, AND give you an “I’m sorry.” hug?

    Of course you don’t. >_>;

  41. redhelix says:

    @madanthony: In all likelihood your machine doesn’t meet the minimum requirements to run the Zune software. If you’ve got a several-year-old Celeron under the hood in a $200 machine, you shouldn’t expect to be able to run shiny new software – even if it is just a media player.

  42. redhelix says:

    For the love of god, enough of the zune bashing. I’ve owned and ipod and used to repair them professionally. I find the Zune to be a superior product, both in the way they’re constructed and in terms of UI. (The click wheel is retarded, I’m sorry.)

  43. Riddar says:

    @Mo MoDo: So companies do the right thing mostly as part of a larger scheme to earn customer loyalty and get a return on investment? Duly noted, thanks.

    @madanthony: System requirements:
    [www.zune.net]
    Notably, a video card is required. I would assume yours uses onboard video, which is a no go.

  44. jimconsumer says:

    @Ryuuie: I’d give Bill my entire net worth if it ensured he would never, ever show up at my house in a cupid outfit.

  45. n/a says:

    @Ryuuie:

    Actually yes, and then maybe a working xbox 360 throw that in for good measure.

  46. spinachdip says:

    @Riddar: Well, that’s simply an absence of a feature (at least out of the box and without a 3rd party app). iPod doesn’t support copying from player to PC – that’s neither “draconian” nor a DRM feature.

    It’s confusing when you use words that you don’t know the meaning of.

  47. Riddar says:

    @spinachdip: So when Sony’s updated CSS renders it inoperable on many standard DVD players, that isn’t DRM, it simply lacks the “Plays on DVD player” feature. Likewise, when the game Bioshock may be installed on no more than twice, that isn’t DRM, it lacks the “We let you install it as needed” feature. You are correct that in that line of reasoning, I can not transfer my songs from iPod to Laptop because it lacks the “You own your purchased music” feature.

    I used the word correctly in that I identify programs built meant to manage the rights of content holders as DRM (Digital Rights Management). In this case, Apple favors the protection of these rights over the rights of consumers to use their products as they wish, even when that music came from a CD in such a way as to not involve Apple at all. By my definition of draconian, an overly strict code or law, that DRM is in fact draconian.

    But like I said, you are right in that it is a matter of how you define these words or what ‘features’ you expect.

  48. spinachdip says:

    I guess you’re right, apples are like oranges, but lemons are clearly superior.

    Here’s the thing – Microsoft has explicitly promoted the Zune’s sharing function. iPod is just a player, and was never meant to be a sharing device or a music transfer agent.

    I’m really having trouble seeing what the complaint here is. If you’re trying to move music between two PCs, why wouldn’t you just use the disk mode on your iPod (or for that matter, any portable media). If it’s on your iPod, you already own it in digital form on your hard drive, so I’m not sure why the iPod is the issue.

    Considering most people aren’t inconvenienced for standard everyday use, and
    Apple has always looked the other way when it came to workarounds like using a CD burner to strip the DRM and 3rd party utilities to move songs from iPod to iTunes, characterizing the absence of iPod-to-iTunes transfer as “draconian” seems awfully silly. Draconian DRM would be, crippling a device or limiting sharing regardless of file format, not the absence of a function that the majority of users don’t have a use for and could easily get around.

  49. Riddar says:

    @spinachdip: They are two products of the same function and the same capacity selling at the same price, occupying the same amount of space, with nearly identical features. Two oranges, lemons, or apples are not this similar to each other.

    So as I said, my complaint is that Apple, seeking to turn people who are not computer savvy (and no, would not download a program to reverse a copy protection system and merge two different music folders) into profit, while MS doesn’t, with the end result being a huge convenience for me. So while yes I can permanently keep an iPod in disc mode, or burn a few hundred CDs, there is little point. Seeing as the lifespan of an average computer is a few years, tops, and many households have multiple systems regardless of computer knowledge, I think most users have a use for this (whether or not they know there is an option, as the person who rebuys the same tracks over and over does not). I think this *does* cripple their device. These are two nearly identical machines, except one makes jump through hoops to do a very, very basic function.

  50. boobaloob says:

    @Riddar: The iPod keeps you from sharing your mp3s illegally. Yep, that’s right, sharing your mp3s is not legal. Yes, you purchased the mp3, you own it, but does that mean you can make multiple copies of it and share it with friends? No.

    I download music through P2P all the time — I can’t even remember the last time I bought a CD — so I’m not coming from a moral standpoint here. But the fact is, it really is not all that difficult to share your mp3s if you’re an iPod user. Just have your buddy plug his iPod into your computer and voila, you’re sharing. Apple is covering their ass here, and I’m sure the record companies appreciate it.

    Oh, and in regard to having to repurchase an mp3 off of iTunes once you get a new computer? That’s bullshit. See, when you have an iTunes account, iTunes keeps track of all of the mp3s you’ve purchased and it allows you to authorize up to 5 computers to access your account and download any songs that are in your purchase history. So if you *really* can’t be bothered to have your buddy plug his iPod into your computer, than have him authorize *his* computer to play the mp3s that you purchased. Additionally, you can deauthorize any or all of the 5 computers even if the computer is no longer in your possession. And, fyi, there is no need to authorize iPods to play purchased mp3s — you can download your mp3s to however many iPods you want, including your buddy’s.

    It’s hard for me to believe that any of the above is difficult for those who are not computer savvy to figure out. If it is, all I can say is that I have no pity for idiots or for people who are too lazy to look into how to use something they’ve purchased to its full capacity.

  51. Riddar says:

    @boobaloob: But the catch 22 is that in many cases it is perfectly legal to transfer over tunes, including (but not limited to) me maintaining a collection over my multiple computers and server. Or, in a more traditional case, for a song to be distributed among one person’s children, if more than one, as in the example I mentioned earlier.

    Now, you are correct in saying a song can be authorized, but it IS a convoluted process in that it requires a folder to folder transfer (once again, iPod to iTunesis not allowed even if well within the 5 user cap), and there is no way to simply redownload as you claim – again, folder to folder is the only way.

    And if you really, honestly think that downloading software that handles ipod to itunes transfers or doing a folder to folder and reauthorization process is that simple for those who don’t use computers, you don’t have much contact with people who don’t use computers. This is not demeaning to you or them, but things like this can be intimidating. If you don’t pity these ‘idiots,’ that’s fine. But keep in mind one of the advantages of the iPod is that it is made for people who don’t use the folder interface for transferring files and rarely research every fine point of hacking their gadgets – made for idiots, if that’s what it makes them. Apple knows full well that this large portion of the market will not use iPod to iTunes tools.

    Besides which, I certainly prefer not to jump through said hoops, and I consider myself very computer literate. Something that works simply and without fuss can be a nice thing.

  52. boobaloob says:

    @Riddar: I said nothing about the 3rd-party software — that was SpinachDip I believe. I’ve never used the 3rd-party software, so I couldn’t say whether it is difficult or not.

    You’re right, iPod to iTunes is not allowed, even with your own iPod! But it is easy to download music into the *iTunes* of an authorized computer, no? Even if that computer wasn’t the one used for the initial purchase? That’s what I’m alluding to.

    When it comes down to it, I think you’re saying, well, I want to be able to transfer files from my iPod to any computer, and what I’m saying is that Apple does not want to be held responsible for you having the ability to do that. We’ve clearly totally gotten off the point of the blog post though!

  53. Riddar says:

    @boobaloob: You can not re-download music, it is your responsibility to back it up (even in the case of hardware failure). And Apple *is* catering to record companies by doing this, as you say. I don’t know, I guess I’m just bitter at Apple over how DRM keeps growing as if they think it *is* their responsibility, as you mentioned. I know its not just them, 2KGames and Sony are just as bad or worse.

  54. littlealbatross says:

    @coaster.n3rd: Agreed. I’ve had a Creative Zen Micro (2, in fact. The first broke before my warranty was up and then the refurb they sent broke too) and a Toshiba Gigabeat that will only play when plugged in (which makes it a less than useful mobile device) that they refuse to acknowledge exists despite being still in warranty. My husband got one of the new sleeker Zunes recently and I inherited his “brick” first gen one and have had zero problems with it. I love that it plays video and has an included radio tuner that works quite well.