Posts Tagged ‘amazon’

I may be late to the party, but I just noticed today that Amazon’s Appstore for Android is now offering one paid app, for free, every day.  Today’s offer is Shazam, which normally costs $5. Also available: Angry Birds Rio. (More Angry Birds goodness for free!)

Although I’m not a fan of installing yet another app installer, this looks like it could be worthwhile if Amazon’s going to help subsidize the cost of some of the paid apps out there and offer some worthwhile apps for free (if only for a day).  Plus, by going through Amazon you also get to use their always-helpful recommendation engine, which helped me to find 2 or 3 other apps I was interested in but would have had extreme difficulty finding on the hard-to-navigate Android Market on my phone.

Don't get me wrong – I think Amazon MP3 is a great service, and over the last ~1.5 years that I've been using them to buy music, I've usually had no problems with either purchasing music or dealing with their customer service group.  But a recent issue makes me wonder if the right hand knows what the left is doing (or in this case, whether the developers are talking to the customer service reps, and vice-versa).

My most recent fiasco with them involved The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon my "Purchase Review" screen from the site:

When you first start using Amazon MP3, any time you try to get any album/mp3, this screen will pop up after you click the "Get MP3" button.  It provides one last sanity check and confirmation that you're actually purchasing what you want – in this case, the song is free, but if you click on the wrong button or misread the price, this gives you one last review screen to confirm you want to continue your purchase.

Unfortunately, it seems that if you uncheck the box "Always ask before completing purchase" shown on the picture and then continue, it is IMPOSSIBLE to re-enable this option to show this purchase review screen in the future.  Not difficult, but actually physically impossible to ever see this screen ever again.  There are no toggles in the user preferences/settings to turn this back on.  No way for customer service to reset it.  If you turn this off, it's gone the way of the dodo bird.  I had three different customer service reps confirm this. 

So, after going through the following steps (spanning 3 different customer service reps):

  1. Calling rep #1
  2. Deleting all my 1-click payment methods from the account
  3. Transferring to rep #2
  4. Deleting all the saved addresses from the account
  5. Arguing with rep #2 that this "Purchase review" page even exists and that it wasn't something new (I've used it for the last year without problems)
  6. Transferring to rep #3
  7. Logging out, deleting all cookies, and logging back in
  8. Still seeing the problem and finding out this rep had no clue on how to fix it either

the last rep suggested I do the following:

  • Create a NEW Amazon account with the SAME email account but different password.1  This will create a new set of preferences and have this option available again (but only because you've basically created an entirely NEW account!)  Of course, the purchase history and anything related to the old account (Amazon Associates, product reviews, etc) will not be available within the new account and they won't be linked in any way, but this would allow me to have a "purchase review" page again.

or alternately:

  • Log off of my account any time I wanted to make a purchase, and it would ask me to log in before it actually allowed me to purchase the product, providing an extra level of confirmation on my part.

Seriously?  Your solution is to nuke my account and/or force me to log out and back in every time I want to purchase something?  Because that is SO much easier than adding a fricking checkbox in one of the preference pages that gives the option to "Display review purchase confirmation page prior to MP3 purchases."  Not to mention that the log out/in option won't even solve this problem, as it won't display a confirmation page prior to logging in, and after logging in it auto-purchases the album (believe me, I tried).

The last gal I spoke to said she'd forward on a request to the developers to add this option, but that I shouldn't expect it to be rolled out any time soon.  She wouldn't go so far as to agree with me that this was a bug in the website, but what the heck else do you call it when you can disable something but can't re-enable it? 

Oh wait, I know what you call it – an impetus to get me blogging again. 🙂

1How many websites do you know that allow you to make completely separate accounts with the same login but different passwords?  Isn't that sort of weird?  I wonder how many different Amazon accounts you could create with the same email but different passwords?  Anyone want to experiment and let me know if you hit a limit?

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Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Mass Romantic
Frank Black
Golden Delicious

Every week, holds a "coolest gadget of the week" contest.  All you have to do to enter is vote for one of the featured gadgets, and leave a comment on their contest post.  In each week's contest, a randomly selected individual wins a $50 Amazon gift certificate.  I only found out about it last Friday, so last week was my first entry into the contest drawings.  Imagine my surprise when I found out Monday that I had won the contest!

Today Al from Coolest-Gadgets sent me my Amazon certificate, and I debated what I would spend it on.  Even though I could have been practical and bought something useful (in my house, we always need diapers, etc), I figured I'd treat myself to a little something special and decided to pick up some Amazon Mp3 albums that I've had my eye on for a while.  I'm only halfway through my certificate and have already picked up some awesome albums

  • Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
  • The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic
  • Frank Black – Frank Black
  • Mike Doughty – Golden Delicious

I think I'm going to have to take a break from the buying before my ears explode from pure aural joy.

Oh, and in case you're interested, this week's contest is on.  Go try your hand at winning your own gift certificate!

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Earlier this year, bought  Audible is a great site, but the Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions on the audio you purchase there can keep you from using your purchased content in the way you want to use it.  Amazon has made a public statement that they will remove DRM from Audible if "customers start to complain".

Richard Jeong decided to make it easy for you to chime in with a complaint by creating the site Call An Audible. If you go there, you can find a link to send Amazon a comment with your thoughts on the issue of DRM on Audible content, and sign his online petition to get this DRM removed. 

Even if you're not a current audible user (or don't plan to be one), the more people we can get to complain to Amazon, the more seriously they'll take our request to remove DRM from Audible content.  If you'd like to help try to deal a death-blow to DRM on Audible (and hopefully, to other sites that will see this as an example), I ask that you please take a couple minutes to go leave Amazon some feedback on this issue and sign the petition

Help tell Amazon to Ditch the DRM!

Oh, and in case you're interested, here's what I sent to Amazon:

I am writing to request that you remove DRM from your Audible media items.  I have never been a fan of DRM and have actually avoided purchasing anything new on Audible due to the problems I've had in the past between compatibility with the purchased audiobooks and my mp3 player.  Although it has supposedly been fixed, I want to know that I OWN what I have bought and can play it on ANY PLAYER, not just the one that I currently own that is audible-supported.

If you were to remove DRM from Audible, I would immediately sign up for a 1-2 book a month subscription.  Until then, I feel no need to spend money on something I don't completely own outright. Please make myself and thousands of others want to buy Audible content again, and remove DRM from the content you are offering.

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It appears has entered the mp3 sales biz, with over 2 million tracks available for purchase (covering ~180,000 artists represented by over 20,000 major and independent labels).

All songs sold are free of DRM (copy protection), using the .mp3 format, at a 256kbps bit rate (variable bit rate used in some cases).  This means not only are you assured that these tracks will work on your current portable player and music software, but will continue to work on future players you purchase, no matter what kind you decide to own.  Plus, at 256 kbps, you get high quality (CD quality) audio that will sound just as good playing through your headphones as through your stereo.

Prices are also excellent, with most individual tracks mostly priced $0.89 to $0.99. Albums are usually $5.99 to $9.99.  As an extra feature, the "top 100 tracks" are $0.89 and the "top 100 albums" are $8.99.

You do not need to use any special software to purchase/download individual tracks, but in order to purchase an album, you need to download and install the "Amazon Music Downloader" (Windows and Mac OSX only).  You can only download the music once, so make sure to make backups of anything you purchase.

It's unclear from what I could read as to whether these are available for international purchase, so your mileage may vary if you're outside of the US.

Press release here, thanks to BoingBoing's notification.

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