My life as a customer: sending off our Microsoft Zune for warranty repairs today

As noted My life as a customer: this time, I’m repairing a Microsoft Zune.  To be specific, an 8GB model that my son relies upon for his daily dose of everything from Disney pop to grunge to classic rock (he’s all atwitter about the rock opera Tommy).

Well, UPS dropped off the return shipping package yesterday to send my son’s Zune in for repairs. 

That’s a week turn around to get a shipping box – nicely pre-labeled and ready to go.  It took me longer to find the original receipt (have to include a copy) than it was to pack the unit up for shipment to Texas.  (The process is similar to what I encountered for my first Xbox 360 sent in with a RROD and the second one with a RROD and a video failure. We’ll see if the turn around is as fast.)

And so, we say goodbye and safe package insured travels to our little device, on Day 8 of our wait.

Tags: Microsoft, Zune.

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My life as a customer: this time, I’m repairing a Microsoft Zune

When we discuss customer and partner satisfaction at the office, I often tell people to remember one thing: never forget what it is like to be a customer.

Well, this week (as I posted previously when I’m returned an Xbox 360 for repair, on a Friday the 13th no less) I am just another Zune customer calling for service.  So again, I thought it would be helpful to share my experience on how to handle the situations should it happen to you.

My son’s small flash Zune developed some problems with the audio/video jack, so we decided to contact Zune for warranty service (he has an 8GB Zune that he purchased last year). After initially visiting and registering the device online, I called the automated phone support line for technical issues at 1-877-GET-ZUNE (1-877-438-9863). (TTY (hearing impaired): 1-800-801-1189.)

After noting that I was having a mechanical issue, I was able to Osubmit a request for a repair online.  That was Monday.

So, we await the arrival of the RMA envelope/package by which we will whisk away our Zune to be repaired.  Watch this space for updates.

In a past post on how to reach the Xbox service centre, I included a link to a helpful reference page for contacting live people via phone via the IVR Cheat Sheet for Businesses – it provides a guide for getting through to a live person on the phone quickly and with little hassle.  (See this post for more details.)

Tags: Microsoft, Zune.

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It’s more than iPods and iTunes: BusinessWeek on Dell’s effort to spur on the digital entertainment market

An old friend of mine, the irrepressible Tim Bucher, is in the news this week, as he’s preparing to go toe to toe, so to speak, with Apple’s supported ecosystem…

“Now Bucher is again squaring off against his former company. He’s spearheading an ambitious plan at Dell (DELL) to break Apple’s dominant hold on the digital entertainment market. He won’t challenge Apple head on, with iPod knockoffs or a Dell version of the iTunes music store. Instead, Bucher’s 120-person team is trying to create a potent alliance among Apple’s many rivals, from cell-phone makers and record labels to online music sites.

Tim is one of those guys who digs in and does well at whatever he’s got in his sights, whether it’s taking on the established digital entertainment market (as he did last with Zing many other efforts) or mastering wine making (as noted here, complete with video).

Read more in the BusinessWeek article, “Dell vs. Apple: Why It May Be Personal.”

Tags: Microsoft, Apple, Zune, Zing, Dell, Tim Bucher.

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Zune in School in Missouri, New Mexico

Engadget reports that local public school students were provided some free Zunes in Liberty, Missouri… 

“handing out a hundred and change media players — Zunes, to be specific — to local high school and middle school students for listening to lesson-supporting podcasts in the hopes of saving them “lost class time.”

Turns out this was kicked off by Eric Langhorst, the 2008 Missouri Teacher of the Year. On his blog, Langhorst noted that his class is involved in a student Zune pilot…

“Microsoft is providing each of my 25 students in my 3rd period 8th grade American History classroom a 4GB Zune to use during the spring semester.” 

How did Langhorst get the Zunes?

Simple: he asked.

From the article via the Associated Press… (available here)

“He approached Microsoft at an education conference last year and pitched the project that allows 25 students in one class to have the Zunes. He now can beam notes on the Gold Rush, Power Point presentations and Civil War battlefield maps directly to the students.”

Zunes are also in use in a rural New Mexico school as well, according to the article. And what does Microsoft get in return? Data, with a promise to publish the info in time for a future education conference…

“In exchange for the donated Zunes, which retail for $129 to $249, the schools are providing data — expected to be more qualitative than quantitative — on how helpful the devices were in the classroom. Microsoft plans to post a case study on the pilot project following this summer’s National Education Computing Conference in San Antonio, Texas.”

Tags: Zune, podcast, school.


MSN Music continues to support authorization, new license keys through end of 2011

image As I break for lunch, this MSN Music note (pardon the pun) on Microsoft will continue to support MSN Music DRM: this from letters to MSN Music customers…

On April 22, Microsoft notified you that as of August 31st, 2008, we would be changing the level of support for music purchased from MSN Music, and while your existing purchased music would continue to play, you would no longer be able to authorize new PCs and devices to play that music.

After careful consideration, Microsoft has decided to continue to support the authorization of new computers and devices and delivery of new license keys for MSN Music customers through at least the end of 2011, after which we will evaluate how much this functionality is still being used and what steps should be taken next to support our customers. This means you will continue to be able to listen to your purchased music and transfer your music to new PCs and devices beyond the previously announced August 31, 2008 date.

Microsoft continues to recommend that you back up your music on CD or hard drive along with other important data.

As noted on arstechnica, this change comes a couple of months after MSN first announced that MSN Music customers would have until the end of August, the scheduled time when the MSN Music authorization servers would shut down… 

“This, of course, was bad news to MSN Music customers who bought music from the service before the company launched the Zune Marketplace and decided to ditch the old store. It furthermore served as a painful reminder of how drastically DRM ultimately limits your rights to use content you have lawfully acquired. Companies that control various DRM schemes, as well as the content providers themselves, can yank your ability to play the content which you lawfully purchased (and now, videos) at any moment—no matter what your expectation was when you bought it.”

IMO, it’s good to see that the MSN Music team listened to customer feedback.  It’s unfortunate that the extended period benefiting MSN Music customers “through at least the end of 2011” didn’t happen from the beginning. Originally an avid supporter of Rhapsody and now Zune’s subscription service, I acknowledge that there can be issues with DRM.  But I’ve found that any limitation is far outweighed by the benefit of an all-you-can-eat music subscription: as I noted a couple of years ago, the subscription model vs. digital purchases has changed how I buy music: I find that I purchase more CDs from a more diverse set of artists than I have in prior years…

“The new subscription packages let me legally “try before I buy” and I am buying CDs from artists I would have not easily heard previously.”

And the quality of subscription music is more than OK for casual listening… I take it with me on my Zune and my tried and true Sandisk Sansa m240 for walks and workouts.  For critical listening over the stereo system, subscription music is fine for parties and background music at home… but I’m still inclined to buy the CD for more critical listening.

Tags: Microsoft, Zune, Sandisk, digital music, MSN Music.