iTunes Support Is Music To Our Ears

We regularly receive emails praising Apple’s customer support for the iTunes Store. Apple’s standard, often proactive, response is to offer a flexible credit. Below is one story from reader Evan:

    “I have read many horror stories online of the iTunes customer support department. I just wanted to share my excellent experience. I was attempting to use the Complete My Album feature, but I continued getting an error message. Here is an email thread from me to Apple.”

“I have been attempting to Complete the album “Rush of Fools” by Rush of Fools. When I click on the “Buy” button to complete my album, I am presented with the following error: “Purchase of this item is not currently available This item is currently being modified. Please try again later.[?]” I have been attempting to purchase this product for almost 15 hours. I would really like to get a hold of this product soon. Thanks! Have a great day.”

“Dear Evan, My name is (removed for privacy) and I understand that you are experiencing some difficulties using our ‘Complete My Album’ feature for “Rush of Fools”. I am sorry for any inconvenience this issue may have caused.

Please reply to this email and include the title(s) and order number (s) of the songs you have previously purchased from this album. Once I have this information, we can look into this issue more in-depth.

iTunes Store order numbers begin with the letter “M” or “W,” and you’ll find them in your iTunes Store email receipts as well as in your Purchase History. To review your Purchase History, follow the steps in this article:

I look forward to your reply, Evan!


(removed for privacy)
iTunes Store Customer Support

Thanks for the quick response.

The song I have purchased from the album “Rush of Fools” is “Undo”. My order number was M#########.

Thanks again for you help. Have a great day!”

Dear Evan,

Thank you for providing me with the requested information. I have issued 10 replacement song credits to your account “(removed).” You can use the credits to buy the remaining songs from “Rush of Fools” or any other songs of your choice from the iTunes Store.

When you sign in to the iTunes Store with this account, the song credits will appear by your account name in the upper-right corner of the iTunes window. The next time you buy a song from the iTunes Store, one song credit will be used to pay for the purchase.

If you don’t see the credit, choose Sign Out from the Store pull-down menu at the top. Then choose Sign In from the Store menu, enter your account name and password, and click Sign In. Your song credits should now appear next to your account name.

Thank you for your understanding, Evan. I hope that you continue to use and enjoy the iTunes Store!


(removed for privacy)
iTunes Store Customer Support

    “This is nothing short of amazing in my opinion. I wanted to buy this album, but due to my issue, Apple chose to simply give me the album for free. iTunes will get my business in the future. Just an awesome experience.”

(Photo: Baston)


Edit Your Comment

  1. NoNamesLeft says:

    Is anyone else underwhelmed?

  2. eli_b says:

    People pay for music? Either way, I hate many different things about Itunes and refuse to use it.

  3. tvh2k says:

    While not overwhelmed by the response, I think it is above and beyond. Remember, Evan was trying to purchase these songs. Rather than simply resolving the issue with “complete my album” or even verifying that it existed in the first place they gave the songs to him _for free_! Go APPL!

  4. chrisgeleven says:

    I have always had excellent responses from the iTunes Store support the few times I had to contact them.

    Recently I by mistake purchased an album. Not just any album either, one of the iTunes Plus DRM-free albums.

    Logic would suggest there is no way in hell Apple would give me a refund for a product that had no DRM, no proof that I deleted it, nothing.

    However, that is exactly what they did. A quick e-mail exchange resulted in my account being credited the 9 free songs (which is what this album had), no questions asked. And they didn’t attempt to do any voodoo and make iTunes delete the mistakenly purchased album…it was still there even after relaunching iTunes (even though it is a truly awful album and I did delete it in the end).

    Stuff like this is why I will buy albums that are on iTunes Plus now instead of getting the CD’s. Every try to open a shrinkwrapped CD and then return it? Impossible.

  5. ceejceej says:

    @NoNamesLeft: that’s what she said.

  6. uricmu says:

    Actually, Apple can verify that your DRM free song was purchased by you: their DRM free means that you can copy it, but inside it, there’s a watermark with your user details. Hence, if you post it online (or have the GeekSquad rip it off together with your porn), the RIAA will find their way to you.

  7. Televiper says:


    Technically there is no watermark on DRM-Free iTunes files. There’s only an identifying tag in the tag section of the file. Deleting that leaves nothing inherent in the file that identifies you as the owner. A watermark with would be an encrypted digital fingerprint that runs throughout the actual song data. Big difference as it would be significantly more difficult to remove.

    I agree, it is an excellent response by the iTunes store. I would of expected something more along the lines of “we’re fixing the problem, let us know if you still can’t download in x-number of hours.”

  8. superlayne says:

    Ooooh, the trick is with the complete-my-album thing, though, not every album is like that. So, being 4 dollars short, I decided to buy the 5 sounds I liked best, and wait…But, lo and behold, I didn’t pay attention…

  9. Falconfire says:

    I have never had a issue with iTunes support EVER. They have not only fixed a downloading screwup and fixed a similar issue with complete this album that I had, but they also re-enabled all of my music after my iBook died 2 years ago and the backups where screwed.

  10. zyphbear says:

    Actually, this is a rare situation to go this much above and beyond. I had the opposite kind of response from them when I had a similar issue. I had purchased “The Hand that Feeds” from Nine Inch Nail’s Album “With Teeth”. Then a couple months ago, I saw they had the album on sale AND I could use the “complete my album” so that the final price was only $7. I was very interested since then I wouldn’t have to spend that much money on an album I didn’t have a chance to buy.

    I attempted to buy it, and no matter what day, or what time, I always got the same error message “Purchase of this item is not currently available This item is currently being modified. Please try again later.[?]” I had tried for several WEEKS in a row, and it never worked. I finally tried submitting feedback, but the one main account I use with Apple is a hotmail account, I never got back the “confirmation” email. So I resubmitted the email using a gmail as my contact information. Got the confirmation email and tried to wait patiently, several days passed (not the 48 hours as described by the one email confirmation.)

    I finally got a message back about 4 days later saying that “in the process of maintaining the iTunes Music store, sometimes titles will become unavailable due to issues beyond our control and we are working diligently to make the title available as soon as possible.”

    I had then sent back an email asking if I could be notified when the title would be available and if it would be available before the sale was over. Their response, “Unfortunately, we can’t place you on a notification for the title, and we have no ETA of when it will be available, but I have credited you 3 song credits due to being such a loyal iTunes customer.” (For the record, I have purchased over 400 items from the iTunes Store.)

    While they were generous by giving me a store credit, they didn’t really fix the issue or help me figure out when I could purchase it, even at it’s full price.

    I thought the situation was over, but suddenly out of the blue, I got an email to my hotmail account, but they asked me to attempt to purchase the album with iTunes Plus turned off (which I tried and promptly relayed the information to them), then they came back with a response that said “in order for us to look into the issue, we need you to send us the following information:
    *Name of original song purchased
    *album it was from
    *purchased date and order number of original purchase
    *Permission to reset your iTunes Store Password so testing can be done with your account directly”

    The First 3 was fine, I still had the email receipt, but the last one I was NOT going to do. Not only 1) could someone make a purchase with my account if they could reset my password, but 2) If there was something I wanted to purchase from the iTunes Music store, I could not do it since I would not know how long they would have control over my account.

    So unfortunately I just dropped this event as it was and said next time I saw the CD in a store on sale, I would purchase it there. I was left with a very disappointed experience overall since I NEVER got to purchase the album.

  11. zyphbear says:

    Other thing to note was they also asked for my billing information WITH the option to reset my password. This was just too strange to me when they should have access to any of that information if it was needed.

  12. goodkitty says:

    @zyphbear: It’s not odd, it’s pretty standard to store a hash of the user password instead of the real thing. In that event, if your user database is ever compromised (or if an evil CSR starts doing bad things) the passwords are still at least relatively secured. In your instance, the request was (to me) creepy enough to warrant them perhaps having a different method, perhaps temporarily changing your password for testing, then restoring the original hash after they are done so you can log on again normally.

  13. mermaidshoes says:

    @zyphbear: the reason they ask for your billing information (they only want the address, no credit card # or anything) is to help confirm your identity so random yahoos can’t write in to get your password changed. they need the information you provide to match the information they can see on the account.

    the reason they want to change your password is so they can test your account and try to get more information about the error you’re experiencing. sometimes errors are account-specific; more often, they happen across accounts due to something wrong on the back end of the store. the itunes agents don’t have access to your present password, so they need to change it to test your account. right now, i don’t get the error you reported when i try to purchase ‘with teeth’ from my own itunes account, which suggests the error is either specific to your account or has finally been resolved.

    i used to work for the itunes store and those ‘item being modified / cannot purchase’ errors are kind of a bitch. most of the time they result from something (like a song name or track number) being improperly labeled in a database somewhere. the email support agents basically have to report issues of that nature to some faraway inaccessible quality control team that only seems to work on such problems once in a blue moon. you’re usually better off just buying the album in a store than waiting for the album to become available for purchase. same deal with any content issues (pops/glitches in songs). just ask for a refund and buy the item elsewhere. it’s easier than waiting the months (or more) it’ll take them to fix it. unless the album is something big like JT or beyonce, purchasing or content problems are not likely to get addressed promptly.

    hmm, maybe it’s time for confessions of a former itunes slave…

  14. @eli_b: How quaint that in order to protest the usurious terms of studio contracts that artists enter into with full knowledge, you choose to appropriate that which you don’t have rights to.

    As a professional photographer, (and producer of work that can as easily be copied/distributed digitally) I tend to think folks like you are the lowest of the low, using the disadvantaged situations of others (musicians subject to mean record companies) to justify the theft of intellectual property for yourself.

    By all means, keep stealing music. You give the other 99.99% of us a bad name when you do – and we’ll all squeal just as loud when the record companies get truly draconian legislation passed that restricts everyone’s ability to download anything – legal or not.

  15. Eran9000 says:

    As much as this story is a nice example of good customer service, I am overwhelmed at the fact that we look at it as a rare thing. Not because it isn’t rare, but because it shouldn’t be.

    Evan did not make a mistake on his behalf, he is supposed to be treated with customer support and a positive feedback/credit due to the error they have caused.

    While I do agree that this is wonderful service, itunes did not go out of their way to pay tribute to a valuable and willing customer. They handled it in the matter they should towards a paying customer, with nice etiquette. Good for them for doing so and in such quick response time, but it should be this way throughout.

    Bottom line, this should not be named “above and beyond”…it should be normal day-to-day service.


  16. bobreck says:

    I’ve had good and bad responses from iTunes support.

    GOOD: About a year ago, I had purchased a compilation album of greatest hits from one of my favorite artists. Listening to the tracks, I noticed that one seemed to be cut off at the end… just outtro the music so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Still, I figured I’d contact iTunes support and ask. What I received back was a very friendly email stating that the purchase price of the entire album had been refunded. I never imagined that this would be the outcome, nor did I want that to be the case. Unfortunately, I did not ever get the answer I was actually looking for… Was the abrupt ending an encoding problem, a download problem, or the way the song appears on the retail CD?

    BAD: Fast forward to 3 weeks ago. I purchase/download the audio book “Scorpion Down” from iTunes to listen to on my vacation. When I got on the plane and tried to playback the first track of the audio book, it just skipped to the end and returned to the root menu of my iPod. I tried a few more times with the same results. When I got home from vacation, I found the book tracks play just fine in iTunes on my PC. I contacted apple and got canned a response that told me to walk through all the same support docs I already had. Perhaps my mistake was actually asking for a refund. I asked for one because it does me no good working only on my PC. If I wanted to sit in one place to enjoy the book, I would have purchased a printed copy. iTunes support flat out refused a refund. While doing my initial investigation on the issue, I found that it’s a fairly common problem with iTunes audio books. I won’t be ordering any more books from the iTunes store!

  17. Sherryness says:

    My experience with iTunes support was so poor that it’s extremely rare that I buy from them any more. And I was purchasing from them several times per week up until that point.

    My problem came when I upgraded to a newer version of iTunes, as it had been prompting me to do for awhile. I hate constantly updating software like that and had been putting it off for some time.

    I finally upgraded when a video I wanted to download said it wasn’t playable on my old iTunes version and I HAD to upgrade if I wanted that video.

    So I upgraded and that video worked fine, but none of my older videos worked at all.

    I contacted support who told me I needed a patch for my Macintosh software. Well, as I told them over and over, I don’t *have* a Macintosh.

    After more than a month and numerous e-mails where they just kept telling me the same thing, I just gave up.

    Now I have several videos I bought from them but cannot view. It’s maddening.

  18. nidolke says:

    You crazy kids and your Apple Store. It still blows my mind that so many people use, when there’s a whole wide internet out there.

  19. Buran says:

    @nidolke: Some people are still actually honest.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    Sherryness: “I hate constantly updating software like that and had been putting it off for some time.”

    As a general rule, when a developer offers you an update, you should take it. Especially operating system stuff. They often know about problems – especially security related ones – before you do, and want to save you from potential problems before they become real ones.

    C’mon, you can do it before you go to bed and the next time you’re at your computer, reboot and you’re barely inconvenienced. Tho, in the end, it’s your call. :D

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    I have a ninny-ish friend that I bought a $100 iTunes gift certificate for. The (sweet but) ninny waited to credit his acc’t, THEN lost the confirmation email. I checked back w/ him to see which tunes he got a month later and he told me of this. Then he decided he wanted something else for his birthday so I got that for him instead.

    So a bunch of things that wasn’t Apple’s fault, with a lost confirmation email, and I wanted a total refund for no arguable reason, nearly two months later. Oh, and I wasn’t the recipient, and of course I didn’t have any of the purchase info either.

    Apple was great. Tracked everything back using my credit card number, then cheerfully reversed the charges. In a day. No arguing, side- or up-selling. Even thanked me.

    Try THAT using AT&T, Verizon or Comcast.

  22. steinwaytony says:

    iTunes will get my business in the future. Just an awesome experience.

    Please. You and every iPod fanboy were going to just lay on your back and let iTunes have its way with you anyway. At least free music’s involved.

  23. steinwaytony says:

    @Buran: …Or can’t use a computer. LOLLERCOASTER

  24. Trai_Dep says:

    Steinway: I – and probably other happy Apple consumers – are ferocious to companies that treat their customers unfairly, rudely or push shoddy products. It’s just that we’re not pajama-clad, shrill no-nothings that criticize EVERYthing. We like capitalism. Someone does good, we like to buy their stuff, and let other discerning people know about our personal, positive experiences.

    What kind of communist are you, anyway? Or you just an incessant whiner?

  25. steinwaytony says:

    If Apple didn’t come through with this heart-warming gesture, I get the feeling that things wouldn’t be different. It’d take a lot more than crappy customer service to get someone to cough up his iPod. I’ll be the first say it’s the best and most economically efficient DAP on the market. What’s the alternative? Napster? Real? Right.

  26. eli_b says:

    @Buran: Unfortunately, the honest people have been getting ass-raped by the music industry for the last 20 years, while watching their favorite artists getting simultaneously getting the same treatment. So honesty only goes one way now? Why is an album on Itunes the same price as in a store with no packaging and retail outlets to pay for? Exactly.