ITUNES CARD PROBLEMS CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
The following is a chronology of events detailing problems we had with iTunes gift cards that we purchased. The problems were ultimately resolved, but the difficulties we had highlight a need for major improvements in customer service at Itunes.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
We bought three $50 iTunes cards from Best Buy. They were on sale for $40 each.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
We gave the gift cards to our boys for Christmas.
My son Michael tried to redeem the three cards. All three of them resulted in an error that said: “The code you provided on the previous screen was not recognized. Please fill out the following information. . .” For all three cards we filled out the information and received an automated email from Itunes with tips to try in order to redeem the cards. The tips did not help to resolve the problem.
Monday, December 26, 2011
We sent an email to iTunes from my son's email address indicating that we still had a problem redeeming the three cards. We sent a PDF scan showing the images of the fronts and backs of the cards plus the sales receipt from Best Buy.
On the same day we also used the Apple website (expresslane.apple.com) to provide information to Apple about the problems with the cards.
I tried to call the Apple customer support line at 800-263-3394. As soon as I said to the Auto-Attendant that the problem was related to iTunes, I got a response essentially saying that iTunes problems would be resolved through the iTunes website. The website URL was provided and then the line went dead. I tried several times and could find no way of getting through to a customer support person at Apple.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Chandan from firstname.lastname@example.org responded and asked for information such as the order number of each card, the account used to try to redeem the cards, etc.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
We responded to Chandan with the information he had requested. We also resent the scan of the three cards and the sales receipt, which we had originally sent on December 26.
Friday, December 30, 2011
After hearing nothing further from Itunes, we decided to return the iTunes cards to Best Buy. When we got there the customer service person was very helpful but explained that iTunes cards are non-refundable. She had a long discussion with her manager about our problems with the cards. In the end she agreed to exchange our non-functional cards for new ones, even though her system would not accept the transaction. We left the store with three new iTunes cards.
Later that day my son Michael and my son Jonathan both tried to redeem the cards on their iTunes accounts. Michael tried on both our MacBook and on his Ipod. Again we got the same error with all three new cards. We entered the card information on Itunes for all three cards and got automated replies from iTunes with tips on how to redeem the cards. The tips did not work.
On the same day I provided the following customer feedback to Apple through the website: “We have been trying for the last five days to get your Itunes gift cards to work. We have tried six different $50 cards and none of them work. They are all "not recognized" by iTunes. We have emailed a scan of three of the cards and the receipt to iTunes, and since then about three days have now gone by without a response. Could you please just call me at [I gave my number] to explain to me how this is going to be resolved. I should not have to wait for days for someone to email me. I am really disappointed so far with your customer service. A couple of years ago we had a problem redeeming an Itunes card. I called your tech support line and the problem was solved within 20 minutes. Why can we no longer call about an iTunes problem? Please, just give me a call.”
A short time later, on the same day, I received a reply from Rohit at email@example.com about the problem with the cards. He said he would be glad to assist me. He asked me to send a scan of the cards and sales receipt. I responded on the same day with a PDF scan of the new cards and sales receipt from Best Buy.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
I sent a follow-up email to Rohit asking if he had received the scans of the cards and receipt. I said “I am really hoping to hear back from you today, before the end of your shift. We have been waiting a long time to get this iTunes card problem solved.”
Monday, January 2, 2012
At 9 pm Rohit responded with this: “Welcome back. Its me Rohit again and I appreciate you to write back with the scanned copies of gift card. I would be glad to assist you. Apple has received your scan and is now reviewing your case. An iTunes Store support advisor will get back with you shortly. Thank you for your patience. Have a nice day ahead!!”
Saturday, January 7, 2012
I sent a follow-up email to Rohit saying this: “It has been five days since your reply below and there is still no word from the iTunes Store support advisor. Could you please look into this for me and find out the reason for the delay? I cannot believe how long this is taking.”
On this day Chandan responded finally to the email of December 28. He said he had not been able to read the PDF scan of the cards. He asked again for the “order numbers” on the cards.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
We resent the PDF scan of the original cards to Chandan, this time from a different email account. It seems the “order number” Chandan was asking for is only on cards purchased directly from Itunes or Apple, not on cards purchased from Best Buy. So we thought it best to send a scan through to Chandan so he could look at all of the numbers and pick the relevant ones. I sent the scan of the original cards (not the new cards) so as not to confuse the situation, since the information Chandan had been previously sent (code numbers, etc.) related to the original cards.
On this same day I went on the Apple customer feedback website and sent them an abbreviated version of the above chronology of events.
Later on this day I received an email from an iTunes Store Advisor named Michael who said he was looking into our problem.
Monday, January 9, 2012
We received another email from Chandan asking us to send scans of the iTunes cards and the receipt. We resent the same PDF scan again.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Chandan sent an email saying he still could not open the PDF.
I scanned the cards and the receipt as JPG images and emailed them to Chandan in that format.
Chandan responded that he could not open the JPGs either.
I sent Chandan this message: “It is very unusual to be unable to open a simple jpg file. There must be something wrong with your computer. Could you please forward my email to your supervisor to see if he/she can open the files?”
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I sent this email to Michael: “Two more days have passed since you sent the message below. It has now been about two weeks since we contacted iTunes regarding the problem with these cards. How could an investigation into this simple problem take so long? This is the type of thing that should be resolved in half-an-hour, not over two weeks. What has happened to Apple's customer service?”
Michael responded: “I do apologize and can certainly understand your frustration caused by the inconvenience of having to wait. I'll contact you with information that will resolve this for you as soon as I can. Take care and I hope you have a great day.”
Chandan sent me this message: “Your inquiry is very important to me, so I have requested assistance with the issue you reported. You will receive an email after the matter has been investigated and further information is available.”
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Michael from iTunes sent us three replacement codes. We tried them and they all worked. So the problem was finally resolved about 2.5 weeks after it was originally reported to iTunes.
Based on this experience, the following are the improvements/policy changes that we feel are necessary at iTunes:
- In the first place, iTunes cards that do not work should not be sold; they should be reliable;
- Customers should be able to speak to an agent to resolve their concerns; customer service should not be restricted to web-based or email service only;
- A simple problem like the one we had should be resolved within about half an hour; there is no excuse for it to take two-and-a-half weeks;
- Customers should be able to take iTunes cards back to the place of purchase for a full refund if they are dissatisfied in any way;
- iTunes customer support personnel who have a limited command of English should not be serving English-speaking customers;
- iTunes customer support personnel should have the training and equipment/software necessary to be able to open and read PDF and JPG files; it is ridiculous for customer support representatives to be less technically capable than their customers.