This is my own personal nightmare today trying to negotiate the customer support hamster wheel with Real.com. Along the way I learned some things which really shook my trust in Real Networks, a company I have been doing business with for years in one way or another.
It all started.....
I have been buying music from Real over the past year. Like most online music sellers, they tweak the MP3 format into something proprietary called a .rax file. I planned to get an iPod and join the ranks of Clockwork Orange cool. But since they say that the iPod is supported all over their site, I don't worry. In the meantime, I have been listening to music on my Palm Zire 72 (long story but I am hooked on David Allen's Getting Things Done use of Outlook's Tasks. That's why i am hooked on the Palm)
Finally, I need to get a bigger box. So, Real.com says they support Apple's iPod (which is why I started buying music there in the first place - knowing I could transfer over my music whenever I wanted). They say it everywhere on their Web site! I go get me an iPod. I am figuring that I will be able to easily download all my Real files to the new iPod because it says so all over the Real.com Web site!
I spend three hours of my time on tech support with Real. Twice they try to get me off the phone by saying it is Apple's fault - something about "firmware" (I think that is code for "I am tired of talking to you and cannot help you"). They make me run through all of these software maneuvers - uninstalling, reinstalling, going to phantom developer sites to download Helix updates - you name it.
End result: they say it is Apple's fault. I need a firmware update. I should go to their Web site.
I go to Apple's site. No information whatsoever about the Real format. I drive crosstown to the Apple store determined to trap one of those "Genuises" with accusations about firmware.
You guessed it. The iPod doesn't support the Real format. At all. Ever. In fact, my Apple Genius suggested that there was back and forth bad blood between the companies that precluded cross support.
I call Real back. They try running me through the "try this" hoops until I tell remind them that in 3 hours we had really done all that. They have nothing to say. I ask for my money back. The cost of the music I could no longer access. Never mind my time today - 4 hours or more - which I cannot get back.
The customer support man said he would kick it up to corporate.
Real misled me (and others). They tried to make it sound as if they support the largest selling MP3 player when they do not. I could go into some long boo-hoo (wait a minute, I pretty much have), but the bottom line is that they lost my trust. We'll see if I hear from anyone.