Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Some people swear by Rhapsody, which is a subscription music service. Rather than (or in addition to) buying specific songs, you can listen to any of their entire (giant) catalog for a flat monthly fee. You can play the songs on your computer or Tivo, or put them on your portable music player (though not an iPod).

I was curious what that was like, so I signed up for a free 14-day trial. Afterwards, two buttons appeared - one to allow me to download the Rhapsody music player, and one that promised I could listen to music on Rhapsody's website. I was at work, so I went to try the website.

The interface is junked up with a million things, including ads (which, I'm subscribing, why should I have to see ads?), but I was able to find where you could look up artists or albums you might want to hear. The songs have buttons next to them - one that allows you to play them, and one that allows you to add them to your playlist.

The play button did nothing. The bottom edge of my browser said it was downloading data, but no sound ever happened. (Pandora is playing just fine, so there's no sound problem on my end.) I tried the playlist button, and then I went to where I could view my playlists. But I have no playlists. I guess that button only works if you start a playlist first?

Honestly I just can't be bothered with this. I was already skeptical once I found out that Rhapsody was related to Real because I remember what a nightmare the Real Player was when I had it installed on my computer in the past. But I just thought it would be a nice, clean service - something like Pandora except with options to listen to exactly what you want - and instead it's, well, like I described.

So before I forgot, I figured I would go cancel my 14-day free trial before I get charged. I went to the page to manage my account, and clicked on "Cancel Membership." Here is a screenshot of where that took me:

So now I'm just fucking pissed. There is absolutely no technical reason that you shouldn't be able to cancel a membership online. They're just purposely making it difficult by requiring me to talk to a real-life human who will probably try to sell me some of the many packages and services that I had to un-check on my way to getting the free trial already. (I also had to un-check the box for "send me a bunch of spam email with crap offers all the time" more than once on different pages.)

So between the non-working interface, the ads, the constant upsells, the opt-out spam bullshit, and now the intentionally difficult membership-cancelling process, I am well and truly done with Rhapsody.

Fuck you, Rhapsody.


rvman said...

"Call us to cancel" is a standard trick by less 'customer service' oriented online services. AOL used to make it oppressively hard to cancel their service - you had to call them, but even to find the number to call you had to know exactly where to look - there was no 'cancel membership' option, the number was buried in the TOS. Paying customers who no longer want to subscribe tend to be low-intensity users, and thus profitable - they are the last customers they want to leave.

Sally said...

I just can't be arsed with free trials in general. I am always afraid I'll not like the service and forget to cancel or they will be Evil a la Rhapsody was here.

FYI: You can't cancel your KSAL subscription, so don't even ask. The "customer service" people are apt to get really surly and then cry.

Tam said...

The difference between KSAL and Rhapsody is that I'd actually be willing to pay money for my KSAL subscription ;-)