Audible.com Issues

4 10 2012

I have recently signed up for and canceled from audible.com and I want to let you (and audible) know why. These are in the order of problems, not the ranking of the problem.

I have been watching a bunch of Revision3 shows recently and I have been enjoying many of them. One of the ways R3 makes any money is through advertisers (duh!) and so I have been signing up for and using a few of the services that seem to fit my needs. I have been using the R3 codes just so that the sponsors know I approve of them sponsoring R3. One advertisement I had seen before but never quite made sense to me was Audible.com. I don’t find myself with a ton of time to just listen to audiobooks (on the other side, music I listen to frequently as background ambiance) except when I take a road trip in which audiobooks are awesome! The last few months have been rather crazy and I have found myself driving ~10 hours a week or more. I got my hands on a box set of audiobooks and ripped through them much faster then I thought I would. The problem with scouring bookstores these days for audiobooks is that they frequently have 1) teenie-bopper crap-o-the-week and 2) are way too expensive.

A week or so ago, those two merged together when I was watching an R3 show and the light finally dawned on me. Audible.com totally makes sense now! I browsed online for a bit and they had several book series I was really excited about and had been meaning to read (whenever I get that mystical free time). I signed up right away…or at least I tried to.

Problem 1) I found the site very difficult to sign up and had to contact customer support to do so.

For no particular reason, the site would either just hang when I tried to sign up, or it would complain I was missing a field which clearly had text data in it! Fine, they have the option to tie into my Amazon account, I will try that way. Nope. Every time it complained that I needed to input a password that was clearly there. Just to make sure, I logged in and out of Amazon multiple times. I thought ‘Maybe it is the browser!’. Nope. Firefox (two different releases), Chrome, and Epiphany all failed. At this point I contacted the help chat line. They eventually got it working and they got me signed up, however, I couldn’t log in. So I reset my password. Then Amazon stopped working. So I reset my Amazon account. I had now completely wasted HOURS dealing with tech support and these log in issues and I needed to go. I went on another road trip _without_ the audio books I had been so excited for. I suspected the problem but it wasn’t until this morning that I actually tested and confirmed the problem.

Problem 2) Audible’s password log in is broken.

My Amazon account password is very complex, but Audible would never let me log in. I eventually figured out that my complex special character passwords were the reason. If I remove my special characters, Audible lets me log in. I have a 88* character password with upper and lower case letters, numbers, and a variety of special characters (I use an open source complex password generator called Universally Unique Password Generator it can be found on github). Amazon works just fine with the password. Audible does not. I am not going to change my password scheme for a broken website when Amazon works just fine. Changing my password every time to log into Audible then changing it back when I was done was an annoying process that I wasn’t going to put up with for long. Another hour wasted. At this point I had already decided that I probably wasn’t going to renew my membership with Audible. However, I still hadn’t had the chance to try their audiobooks and I had a free download credit. Maybe that would change my mind.

*[EDIT] I initially wrote this as 65. Sorry.

Problem 3) Linux support.

I don’t run anything but Linux. I have no need to do so. In this day and age, I so rarely encounter a problem under Linux that I almost forget there are still companies that don’t support Linux. The first audiobook I downloaded came in a format that I could not get to play. An Audible Audiobooks .aa format. They list multiple formats supported so I kept trying with the different options. Same problem. Nothing worked. Not even VLC or XBMC! Those two seemingly play everything I throw at them…except these stupid aa files. Fine, I will try another audiobook. Nope same problem. It is something on Audibles end.

I got no relevant results searching on Audible’s help section so I turned to the internet. Researching online and all I see is people with problems with Audible audiobooks under Linux. The suggestions that pop up the most are to run wine -or- copy to a mp3 player. Wine doesn’t help me on the road in my car and I am not very interested in burning hundreds of CD’s either. VERY ANNOYED I copied the files over to my iPod 5th gen (which I have managed through Linux for over 4 years and, thank God, I have not had to use iTunes in almost 5 years). The audio files /still/ do not play. At this point, this is the BIGGEST offender from Audible. I WILL NOT support a company that doesn’t support Linux and the end user. I returned the audiobook and canceled my membership.

DRM and proprietary formats just lost Audible a customer.

I *promise* you that /if/ I was the type to download a pirated copy of these books (which I am not going to do for my own personal reasons), the pirated copy would play when I want, how I want, where I want and on the device I want. I can also *promise* you that the pirated copy would NOT eat up hours of my life trying to get them to work. Audible.com just screwed over a legit, honest customer and promoted piracy as an easier alternative. Great job Audible.

Problem 4) They don’t even want to know why you canceled.

When I canceled, it took several clicks and drop down menus to tell them I was cancelling. The drop downs were pathetic pre-canned responses that didn’t fit my reasons hardly at all. Finally, on the last screen there was an option to explain why I canceled. Great. I honestly wanted to let audible know why I was canceling so I started to write out a brief summary of what I have posted here. Wait a minute…a 200 character limit on additional comments? Really? You won’t even give me the space to type out my complaints? Yet another fail. It is because of rubbish like this. A terrible terrible customer experience where Audible completely fails to live up to the expectations.

I was recommended to Audible through a promotion of a Revision3 series that I really like. I am glad Audible supports Revision3 and I wanted to support Audible because of that. However, I simply can’t. When *I buy* music, I expect those audio files to play when *I* want, where *I* want, how *I* want, and on the device *I* want. Give me an audio format I can listen to on *my* own terms, and I will probably come back.

Until then, I will buy the audiobook CD’s, rip them to *my* music player to listen to when *I* want, where *I* want, however *I* want, on the device *I* (Remember, the legit BUYER here!) want.

Now Audible has wasted another 3 hours of my life…

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