Wednesday, January 7, 2009

iTunes Plus Library Upgrades Failing Massively

I was stoked about the news that the iTunes Music Store was getting rid of DRM and offering unlocked, higher-quality tracks to replace the protected songs that customers had already purchased. Stoked, that is, until I actually attempted to upgrade my library. When I click the little Upgrade My Library link at the iTunes Store front page, I'm presented with the option to buy the Plus versions of 96 individual songs and 11 complete albums for $61.80 USD. (By the way, it kind of blows that you can't pick and choose which tracks to upgrade. Apple is only offering complete library upgrades- well as complete as possible, since the labels haven't turned over all the DRM-free songs yet.) When I eagerly click the big silver Buy button, I'm presented with a little message box that says: "Your iTunes Plus upgrade is now processing" and instructs me to wait until I receive an email containing download instructions.

Well after 20 minutes or so, the email arrives and it always says the same thing:
Your iTunes Plus Upgrade Could Not Be Processed

Your iTunes Plus music upgrade could not be successfully completed because there is a problem with your payment information. To go to your iTunes Account Edit Payment Information page, please click the link below. Please check your credit card information, ensure that it has not expired, and check your billing information and then try your upgrade again.
So I return to iTunes and open up my account information, only to find that my payment information is not only intact, but correct. I have bought hundreds of songs in the past year alone with exactly the same information, and the card's good for another few years. Supplying the info for a second card didn't work either.

As the day wears on it's becoming clear that I'm not the only one. The Apple Support forums are filling up with posts from people all over the world having the same problems. It's nice, I guess, to know that I'm not the only one, but what's frustrating is that we have no idea what the issue specifically is, and whether Apple is even aware of the problem. There is no apparent way to submit a support ticket. (Clicking the Report a Problem button in iTunes simply loads your purchase history.)

Not everyone is having the issue. When it works, the tracks just queue for download automatically- no email involved. From the several successful reports I've seen, it appears that the upgrade is working better for people with fewer than 100 songs to replace. My own failed attempts involved 244 songs, and most of the complaints I've seen on the Apple forums seemed to involve triple-digit song counts.

I presume that Apple is just plain overwhelmed with upgrade requests and the system is just failing in bizarre and misleading ways. Anyway, if you are having similar problems to what I've described here, just know this:
  • You're not alone.
  • It's probably not anything with your payment information- especially if you've recently bought stuff through iTunes and the card's still valid.
  • It's not regional; it appears to be a global problem.

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