Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Nightmare buying DRM audio books from ClearAudioBooks.com

I really don't mind paying for audio books when I can find them, but this experience has to be the worst so far. I was looking for a J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts book for my wife, but Audible didn't have it, while Borders wouldn't sell it to me. So I found it at ClearAudioBooks.com, an outfit I haven't tried before.
Step 1: The first hurdle was paying for the book. I have resisted using the Verified by Visa system since it was introduced in 2006 because it relied on popups. After going round in circles I was eventually forced to call my bank with an "Error 11" and they enrolled me in the plan, like it or not. So we were off to a good start.
Step 2: Next came the problem of downloading the book. You have to set your download manager to collect only 1 piece at a time, because if you do several pieces then the server gets confused and wastes your time. At 451MB for the 64k version of the book, that's a lot of wasted bandwidth, adding another $5 to the $24.99 purchase price, but I digress.
Step 3: When I tried to play the audio file, I was confronted with yet another hurdle: the Windows Media license nightmare. I'm running Windows Vista and Windows Media Player 11, with all service packs and updates galore. Do it should be a simple case of click on the file to play. Wrong. You have to log in and give a password. It didn't work. See error message at the top of this article. I tried 3 or 4 times.
Step 4: Contact customer support. This is easy because there is a "click here" link hidden away in the bottom right hand corner of the Windows Media login screen. Never mind that the link is for a lost password. Now you have to register on a different system in order to log a support call. Yet another user name and password later, I managed to tell them about the problem. They'll get back to me: Ticket ID: SZQ-150802. No, wait, I have to visit their site to find out the status of the ticket.
Step 5: Keep clicking in desperation. Eventually the verification works on the free The Very Best of BBC Comedy that I also downloaded. I guess they knew I would lose my sense of humour, so they tried to give it back. Eventually it worked, so I tried the purchased book. Another error message:
Step 6: After this message, the book started playing. This is the point that I convert it to MP3 format before the computer changes its mind. Don't you just love how simple DRM technology is? Much easier than buying an MP3 from Simply Audiobooks and downloading it and then clicking "play", don't you think? Now if only they would sell me the book I was looking for ...
Update: When I click on the link to see the status of the ticket, I get an error message: "ERROR: You do not have enough permissions to access this page. Please log in by entering your Email Address and Password." This continues in an endless loop, even though I have logged in with the correct user name and password, supplied by email along with the link. I think I'll have to listen to that BBC comedy again, just to deal with the stress. I think I'll have to send this post as a glowing testimonial for their web site.
Update: I reported the error message to the people who make the "help" desk software, and got the following UNHELPFUL reply:
Yes, you are right, they are using our software but the issue which you have reported could be at their end. There might be a possibility that our client has made some changes in the software settings because of which you are getting this error. Our client will need to report this to us, so that we can take action on it accordingly.
Please note that our software provides both the options i.e. a customer may submit a ticket directly or he/she will need to login to submit a ticket. So, it entirely depends on how a particular client of ours has configured the system.
It's all the client's fault and responsibility to fix the third party software, and there isn't the remotest possibility that the supplier could offer to help, or even express any interest. That's just the kind of service you can expect from the sales team at Kayako Infotech Ltd.


Jamie Edwards said...


Our customer (audiobooksupport) is more than welcome to contact us if their clients are experiencing problems using their support desk.

Our customer has not informed us that you are a representative of that company, therefore it would be inappropriate for us to discuss our customer's matters with you.

Have you made sure you are using the correct username and password to log into the support desk, by clicking on the "Forgot Password" link above the login form (shown in your screenshot)?

Donn Edwards said...

Yes, I used the password that I gave when I registered on the site, and which is the same password that your software sent me in the email. The same email message that gave me the link to click on which doesn't work, even after logging in.

Perhaps the software is not correctly set up, I don't know. But if you had taken the time to log a ticket yourself you would already know this first hand. Its a pity you didn't think of trying this before telling me in your smug little email that your software works correctly.

Do you really think I would have gone to all the trouble of reporting the problem if there wasn't one? Get a grip.

Donn Edwards said...

Jamie Edwards emaile me the following reply. I must say I'm stunned that anyone in "sales" or "support" could be this arrogant and pig-headed :-


>> Perhaps the software is not correctly set up,

Indeed, perhaps. You should contact audiobooksupport and report the problem to them. If they then believe it is a problem with the software, they are welcome to contact our technical support team.

>> But if you had taken the time to log a ticket yourself you would already know this first hand.

The problem could be caused by any number of configuration issues.

We do not:

1) Have access to our customer's support desks by default, so we cannot tell what the problem is
2) Have permission to communicate with you about our customer's support desk matters, in accordance with a privacy agreement we have with them

I believe that your requests and reaction to this are wholly unreasonable. I have fully explained the situation and I have given you the reasons why we cannot investigate this problem until our customer (audiobookssupport) contacts our technical support team.


Jamie Edwards

Jamie said...


>> Perhaps the software is not correctly set up, I don't know.

That is the thing - neither do we, and we won't know until our customer (audiobooksupport) contacts us reporting this problem, and provides us with access to their support desks so that we can investigate the issue.

That is why we have suggested (on three occasions) that you contact audiobooksupport with the problem. The following will then, presumably, happen:

1) audiobooksupport will see if there is any obvious user error taking place

2) If not, see if there is any obvious configuration error made by audiobooksupport

3) If not, contact our (Kayako) technical support team with access to the support desk so that we can investigate the problem for them

Your problem report to us was:

"I suggest you get your helpdesk software to work BEFORE you start selling it.


Munish replied to you suggesting that you contact audiobooksupport about the error, as we are only the vendor of the software (we do not configure the software for our customers).

Your reply was to Munish was:

"[...] In that case the error message I encountered was generated by your software, in which case you are responsible for fixing it [...]"

Which may be true - we don't know, and we will not know until audiobooksupport contacts us with access to their support desk so that we can investigate.

Munish replied to you again, explaining that it is most likely a software configuration problem. Again, we cannot know for certain until you report the problem to audibooksupport and they come to us asking for assistance, with access to their support desk.

Munish said:

"Our client will need to report this to us, so that we can take action on it accordingly."

We cannot explain things any more clearly. We are sorry you are having problems with your vendor. We do not doubt that you are having problems with your vendor.

We have read that you have already contacted your vendor, but until they contact us we cannot know or do anything about the problem you are facing on your vendor's support desk.


Jamie Edwards

Donn Edwards said...

They just keep saying the same thing over and over. It's not their fault. The client must report the problem. Will I please just GO AWAY and leave them alone?

The response I was expecting was: "Thank you for reporting the problem. We have contacted our client and assure you that we are doing everything we can to help resolve the issue". I guess I over-estimated their competence. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Give it up, Donn! You're flogging a dead horse. No one cares about these 2-bit operations anyway.

Anonymous said...

Dear all,
I'm a student of Management Engineering at Politecnico di Torino. One of the objectives of my master thesis, applied to a real case study, is the protection of confidential or valuable content using Digital Rights Management (DRM) techniques. I would like to start my research by doing a survey among expert and professionals in the IT sector.
As part of this work, I have developed a questionnaire whose purpose is collecting feedback in order to come up with an objective assessment of the market where such software for protecting digital assets could be deployed.
If you would be so kind to help me in doing my thesis, I will be happy to share with you the results of the survey by sending you the final report (which will be anonymous and respectful of your privacy). You can find the questionnaire online at the following link:
Thank you very much in advance for your kind help and your time.
Best regards,

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