Nokia music : when things go wrong #fail (updated : Resolved)

Posted on January 1, 2013

For a long time in SA we didn’t have any real choice if we wanted to buy music online. iTunes didn’t support us, the other stores wanted to sell DRM’ed music, the methods to download the music were painful and it really wasn’t much cheaper than getting the physical CD’s instore. Then I found Nokia Music (OVI store). They supported South African musicians, have a decent selection of artists and albums, are reasonably priced and provide further discounts for buying credit up front. Albums average between R60 and R100 each (and often it is the newer ones at R60). Songs between R6 and R10 each. Buy R500 of credit and get R600. So you could get between 6 and 10 albums for R500. Thats good value.

To download your music though you have to use the clunky Nokia Music Player. Worse than iTunes and I never use it for anything other than downloading my music. The problem with it is that it queues your songs for download but they regularly fail. Then it is a manual process of logging onto the website and getting the missing tracks individually. With the Lumia 800 things improved a little (or so I thought). You could now download the albums directly to the phone over wi-fi, no PC needed.

In the meantime iTunes started selling music in SA. I bought a Freshly Ground album for R60 but the rest of their music seemed expensive, sometimes as much as twice the price of Nokia Music (Rihanna Unapologetic Delux R60 vs over R120). I thought I would stay with Nokia music and put up with the hassles. iTunes really worked better, faster, simpler. But we all have our price.

Then it all went wrong.  (Although @NokiaRSA did fix it in the end : See update at end)

I purchased Rihanna’s new album, downloaded it directly to the phone thinking I would just sync up later with Nokia Music Player on the PC. However when I tried this 10 of the 17 songs downloaded and the rest failed. I manually downloaded 5 of the missing 7. The last two were “greyed out” in both Nokia Music Player and on the website. Nothing I could do would allow me to download them. No problem I thought, let me just copy them off the phone, its only two songs.

Then I discovered two things,

1. Windows Phone doesn’t have a USB host mode, you can’t just plug in a USB cable and copy your music over. What the heck?  All phones support this? I had to use Zune to copy the files,  then I made the next discovery

2. If you download your purchased music from Nokia Music Store directly to the phone over Wi-Fi you get a MUCH lower quality version of the song. Again, What the heck? This wasn’t made clear anywhere in any of the processes. And I couldn’t find any options to download the correct version.

So what is the difference? Let’s compare Rihanna’s latest single, Diamonds.

Phone Version :

  • 948KB MP4
  • Bitrate : 32kbps
  • Channels : 1 (mono)
  • Audio sample rate : 22kHz

PC Version : 

  • 6.88MB MP3
  • Bitrate : 256kbps
  • Channels : Stereo
  • Audio sample rate : 44.1kHz

It is pretty clear why when you buy the album you would want the MP3 version and not the vastly inferior phone version (1/8th of data rate and 1/2 of sample rate and no stereo). I will make sure I don’t bother downloading directly the phone again. What a waste of a useful feature.

Back to my problem at hand. I still don’t have decent quality versions of the missing songs. I tried various options, filling in forms on the Nokia site etc. No phone numbers for a South African call centre, but eventually found an online help/chat function, and had to wait a day for them to be open.

To cut a long story short, I spent about half an hour chatting to an individual from a call centre in India, who didn’t really know what the problem was, couldn’t help, wasn’t empowered to employ what we all knew was the solution but which he didn’t want to admit. See, it turns out for this album this is some kind of “unwritten” download limit. You can only download your songs 3 times and then no more. The stupid Nokia Music application used up all these 3 attempts with its failures and now I can’t download the music. No problem, my “friend” would escalate to the experts who would call me and sort the problem. They called 6 hours later, asked exactly the same questions, couldn’t understand why I would want the MP3 version if I have the MP4, turned out to not be the “experts” and would escalate again to “the experts”.

We wait and see …

Conclusion :

  • Nokia Music is still the best value for money online music shop in SA, but be careful when using it.
  • Don’t download directly to the phone unless you are happy with mono radio quality tracks
  • Download albums using Nokia music (saves downloading each track individually)
  • If a download fails don’t press re-try, log into the website and download the missing tracks manually
  • If something goes wrong, don’t expect a lot of help.

This is the first time after 2 years of using the service I have had a problem, up to now I have been happy. Now I am much less so. Yes the songs are only worth R12 and it’s a small amount, sadly, my principles make me angry anyway and won’t allow it to be seen that way.  I am sure it would have been cheaper for Nokia to refund me the R12 so I could “buy” the two songs again. That would be cheaper than paying their call centre agents, paying for the calls to call me internationally and paying for these “experts”. No real business sense in that. I wish Nokia would fix their customer service, and fix their application. A simple app that is just for downloading your bought music would be great, sadly the bloated buggy Nokia Music Player is the only choice.

I am curious as to the experiences other have had when things go wrong with iTunes. Have you had to deal with their support? If so please share.

 Update 2013/1/12 : 

Despite their assurances to the contrary, I never heard from the Nokia Call centre people again.

During the week @NokiaRSA contacted me on twitter, provided some explanations which didn’t really make sense but also sent me a direct message asking for my account details, and then very kindly credited R100 to my Nokia Music account. This allows me to buy the affected two songs again (total cost R12) and leaves R88 over. This simple gesture solves my problem and help restore some trust in the Nokia Music Store. Thanks @NokiaRSA for sorting this out.  If you have any problems with the Nokia Music store (or any Nokia matters)  I would suggest getting hold of @NokiaRSA on twitter.






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Categories: Gadgets, Mobile, Music

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