I'm a longtime user of rental music - I've had subscriptions to Rhapsody, Napster, Virgin, even Urge. So naturally I was pretty excited when Yahoo! created what looked like a decent music service that I could subscribe to at a huge discount - $5/month included the ability to download to my player, a service I was paying Rhapsody $15/month for.

Unfortunately, the proprietary Yahoo player software sucks. I've had a huge list of problems that include:

  • The player will frequently refuse to play music that is available on Yahoo!’s site.
  • The player sometimes will play full tracks in 30 second preview mode.
  • The player will sometimes refuse to start at all.
  • The player sometimes crashes in the middle of play, giving an error message and shutting down.

And guess what? To make this low-end service profitable, Yahoo! doesn't have phone support - you have to enter problems via a web interface. I submitted quite a few problem reports, and never got a satisfactory response – never received an answer that fixed any of my problems. (Uninstall and reinstall. WTF?)

I thought I was making some headway, when I received the following email, indicating that perhaps Yahoo! was going to start taking my problems seriously:

CODE:
  1. Yahoo! Music Support Escalation Notification (KMM69271493V98835L0KM)   
  2. Hello,
  3.  
  4. We have carefully reviewed your Customer Care Support request and have
  5. escalated it to a senior Care representative who specializes in
  6. resolving issues related to your specific request. The representative
  7. will respond to you within the 24 hours.
  8.  
  9. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. We look
  10. forward to resolving your issue!
  11.  
  12. Sincerely,
  13.  
  14. Yahoo! Music Customer Care.

That was on July 9, and it formally marked the last time I heard from Yahoo!, despite zillions of follow-up inquries on my part.

In addition, Yahoo operates a brag site called Yahoo! Music Blog. They provide additional resources for contacting customer support. I have sent multiple emails to these addresses, and have never received a single response.

This kind of thing drives you crazy, of course. But fortunately, when you are done banging your head against the wall with a vendor who won't talk to you, there is one additional option: contesting the charge with your credit card company.

After taking the time to document my woes with Yahoo!, my Visa provider apparently agreed that I wasn't being treated properly. The copy of the letter below is victory enough for me:

And now I'm back to Rhapsody. I've used their phone support twice. Once because they have the hideous requirement that you call in to cancel the service (Hello, Mr. Retention Specialist!) and once with a real problem, which was resolved by the support person.

Update

Engadget reports that this service is going to bite the dust real soon now, with users being shifted over to Rhapsody. In their article they claim that this is due to basic weakness of the subscription model, but I think all Yahoo! Music Unlimited subscribes know the truth: Yahoo! was inept.