Thanks to Tom

The long nightmare that is Rhapsody is at last over.

After twelve hours of agony, I finally got my MP3 player to accept transferred songs from a music subscription service. First this involved two calls to the crappy tech “support”at Rhapsody, a group of underinformed people who cannot decide if my player is a supported product or not, depsite the fact that I purchased this brand per the specifications on the Rhapsody website, specifically to use with Rhapsody, and have been happily using it since last August.

To make the story of a twelve-hour ordeal short, it looks like my problems were ultimately Microsoft problems (surprise surprise!). Despite the fact that my device is a “Plays for Sure” Microsoft device, and is supposed to work with WMA protected content on any machine with XP and Service Pack 2, the word is that the Rio Carbon is actually NOT supported as a WMA-OK device. (Apparently, MS developers accidentally left it out of the recent MS upgrades.) But no tech will tell you this. You have to spend hours trolling forums, educating yourself on the ins and outs of dealing with MP3 players, digging up the truth behind corporations’ idiotic claims that their services and devices work together. Happy happy Plays for Sure!

Rhapsody seemed hopeless, with techs who clearly just wanted me to get off the phone, and danced around my polite but firm demand for an explanation as to why a supported device I’d happily used since last summer magically wasn’t supported any longer.

So I downloaded Napster. Which didn’t work either.

Today I had a two-hour phone ordeal with a tech named Tom, who listened, who called in help from other techs, and who tried everything. But we couldn’t fix it, after endless trips to the Microsoft.com Download Center, patch downloads, restarts, updates, rollbacks… We were both exhausted after nearly two hours. My left bicep ached from holding the phone to my ear. I could barely think straight. I tried to get off the phone with him due simply to unmitigated phone exhaustion, but he wanted to try just one more thing.

That last thing was the thing that fixed me up. The Napster software now recognizes my device, doesn’t try to tell me that my media licenses are corrupted or not even there, and actually lets me put music into my little Rio Carbon, the good little device that Microsoft developers forgot. And that subscription service providers forgot to mention that Microsoft forgot. So everybody in power left a music-loving consumer to waste nearly two days’ wages just trying to get a fairly new $250 music device — which wasn’t even broken in the first place — to work.

I’m going through my Rhapsody library and using it as a Napster Download Guide before I have the bitter pleasure of canceling my subscrip to Rhapsody, which still won’t let me transfer songs to my device, though Napster will. Thanks are also due to Microsoft, where “Plays for Sure” means that you can never be sure if your device will play. Somebody get me a Mac. Next time, Lord, a Mac.

My shared playlists now will be Napster playlists. I’d like to dedicate this first playlist to Tom, a Napster tech who does a rare and wonderful thing — he gives a shit and goes the distance for end-users of his company’s product. He never tried to force me off the phone with a fix that wouldn’t work (Rhapsody: Download this, ma’am, and it will work, OK? Just download this. I’m sure it will be all right. OK, is there anything else I can do for you?), called in help from others, used his brain, and ended up converting a Rhapsody user to a Napster user.

Here’s to Tom.

OK. I just created a celebratory short playlist of the Pogues, only to learn that I can now share my playlists only with other Napster users. Shit.

If any of y’all have Napster, and you want to rock out to the Pogues, send email.

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