I Can't Find A Way To Fix My Borked iPod

Liz has an iPod Touch that freezes up a few songs into a listening session. She’s patiently slashed through mountains of red tape to try to find a solution but has just about given up on finding a fix. She writes:

I’m sure you hear this a lot, but I’m writing to you as a last resort. I’ve tried everything I can think of to fix the problem I’m having with my iPod Touch 3G (32GB), including contacting Apple multiple times to try to figure out a fix. There are a number of other iPod Touch users on the Apple forums reporting the exact same problem I’m having, and Apple has done nothing to fix it.

I received my new iPod Touch as a Christmas gift from my very generous boyfriend. I already had a 16GB 1st Gen iPod Touch and loved it, and I was so excited to have twice the space for my ever-growing music library. I spent an afternoon loading my music, creating playlists, and adding the apps I had on my old iPod Touch, and thought everything was grand.

Then I took my iPod to work and started listening to music. I noticed a problem almost immediately–about every 5th or 6th song would immediately pause. The “play” icon would appear, but as soon as I touched “play,” the song would immediately pause. There was no error message, and I found I could play the tracks just fine on iTunes, so I went to the Apple website to try to get some support.

This is where the first problem comes in. The Apple support pages are a complete maze. There’s no easy way to get where you need to go. I tried going through two completely separate wizards (that I only happened to stumble across by complete accident) that promised they would solve my problem. After some basic troubleshooting steps (restarting, syncing, deauthorizing/reauthorizing through iTunes, etc.), the problem wasn’t resolved.

I then tried going through the ‘request a call’ support channel, which pushes you through ANOTHER set of questions to try to troubleshoot the problem before you can talk to a “specialist.” This would be fine, but there’s one problem… if your question isn’t even related to the FAQs they quiz you on, you can’t get to the end of the wizard where you presumably request that phone call.

After about 2 hours of hunting and pecking through what seemed like hundreds of pages, I finally managed to find a form to send an email (and I only found that through a Google search!). I sent the message and received a response within 24 hours–the only thing Apple did right–giving me some basic troubleshooting steps, e.g., restart, deauthorize/reauthorize iTunes, ensure your firmware is up-to-date, restore, all the stuff I’d tried before. I actually repeated all of those steps over again, just in case I missed something the first time I tried to troubleshoot. None of it worked, so I wrote back and said I’d done everything suggested, but the issue still wasn’t resolved. By this point, the problem is actually getting worse. About half of my music library won’t play, and about 80% of my apps won’t load. They crash immediately on touching the app icon.

The response again arrived within 24 hours, but unfortunately, this message was even less helpful than the first. It basically said, ‘sorry to hear you’re still having problems, but I’ve reached the limit of my knowledge and don’t know what to tell you anymore–so try these random FAQs and post to the Apple forums.’ I can’t even believe this! I received a gift that cost a few hundred dollars, and when the device won’t work, Apple’s own reps can’t even help me?

I did go to the forums as suggested, and I found many other users who are having the same problem as me. None of them have been able to get a fix from Apple support. We’ve all tried every troubleshooting step that exists, and haven’t been able to find a solution. We’ve searched the Apple forums, Google searched other forums and answer sites, and there doesn’t appear to be a way to fix this problem. At this point, I don’t have any patience left. I’m ready to return my device and buy a Zune.

I thought about doing an EECB for this, but the last time I did that (for an unrelated issue not long ago), I didn’t get any response at all. Any other suggestions for engaging Apple to get them to take care of this?

Has anyone found a way to solve the problem? Or is it time to give up and do the unthinkable by going for a Zune?