“If Only” (I)

Last weekend my iTunes software [running on a Mac] and my iPad both decided that they needed software updates. Both were quick and simple procedures. Then things started to go wrong in a big way.

The iPad unilaterally decided that it was no longer going to play the 20 “Digital Copy” movies that I’d bought through “Triple Play” box sets. I tried to access the source files via iTunes, but was told that they were of the wrong format. Everything played perfectly if invoked directly from the OS/X Finder utility. In iTunes, random albums started to delete their artwork, while other random songs refused to play, again telling me that the files were the wrong format. One album lost all it’s tracks when they mysteriously vanished. (The library is on a RAID 5 NAS box, which passed integrity testing, and which has no errors. I *know* I did not delete those files…) Finally, iTunes keeps telling me that there is a problem with my iPhone. I don’t own one, and never have.

So I called Apple support and asked them how I could re-install iTunes safely. Happy to do it, but I could find no clear instructions on their web site for a Mac OS/X installation. I was cheerfully told that they could help me for the princely sum of £29.95 for a single fix, or £69.95 if I would like to buy a year’s worth of support. Or I could pack up all the gear and book a 20 minute slot at a Genius bar in a store miles away…

At which point I explained that the issue had been caused by *Apple* pushing 2 new software releases (iTunes and iOS 6) on to my kit over the weekend. It *had* all been working fine, until *they* broke it. No dice. So I pointed out that a court of law would probably say that what they were doing – a remote “wipe” followed by charging me to fix the problem – counted as a form of racketeering – a digital equivalent of charging me “insurance”, if you will. At that point I started to get passed up the chain of command. Over 2 hours I was passed through a total of 5 different people [in fairness, that was 2 calls: I spoke to 2 on the initial one, and the second person offered to call me back and didn’t… the second call I stayed on the line, refused a call-back and had to negotiate with 3 managers before I got put through to a tekkie]. In the end I was handed off to a lady with a US accent who spent 20 minutes guiding me through the peculiarities of iTunes config files, and which XML libraries need to be deleted to trick the software into thinking it was a clean installation. Even then, bless her, she made a few errors and I had to correct her statements.

We got there in the end, by which point I’d decided that the “IO” in iOS 6 stands for “If Only”, as in, “if only this worked…”

I am *hugely* disappointed with Apple’s attitude towards a problem which they caused.

(Consumer) loyalty is a hard-won thing, and in this post-Jobs era of iPhone Maps scandals, and iOS 6 woes, they seem only to happy to throw it all away. I can’t help but wonder if this is a blip or a turning point…