Just had the worst sign up and getting started experience at Audible.com. I find out of an offer from the Tech News Today podcast for a 1 month free membership and 1 free book. So I decide to sign up thinking it will be a quick 5-10 minute thing. 1 hour later, I am writing a blog post about the horrible experience setting this service up.
The actual sign-up process is quite streamlined. They ask you to set up an Amazon account. I was expecting to setup some sort of account so that’s not bad. Then even though your checkout total is $0, they want you to fill out credit card information. Ok, I understand because they are selling a monthly subscription. So I’ll do that.
But to actually start listening to your first book, is a whole different story. They don’t have a web-app, so you have to download some client. I wanted to listen to the audio books when doing chores around the home, so I decided to download the Windows client. During installation, the client wants me to close all my Chrome windows. I find this really annoying whenever an application asks me to do this because I always have something going on in my browser windows. Anyway, I reluctantly close all Chrome windows. The installation finishes and the application starts up. There’s a button to go to my Online Library where I can go to get books.
So I’m back on the website now. I decide to buy Game of Thrones as my first free book. Oh but wait, I have to pay $22.05 for this book! What happened to my first free book? After some looking around I realize that the 1 free book is based on the fact that they gave me 1 free ‘credit’ when I signed up. And the site claims that:
a very small number of audiobooks and other titles are valued at more than one credit
The Game of Thrones book is priced at 2 credits (as well as every other book in that series). To be fair, some of the other books I looked at, including popular titles like The Hobbit and The Hunger Games, were priced at 1 credit each.
Anyway, I decided to get The Hunger Games in the end. Now its added to my Online Library, and there is a button to download the book. But clicking on the button tells me that I don’t have the Windows client installed and that I need to download it. Even though I clearly have it installed and running! After getting frustrated, I call up Customer Service who direct me to switch off the ‘Software Verification’ setting in my online account because they don’t have good support for Google Chrome. Its awesome that you can’t find this information on their help pages.
So I hang up with Customer Service and am finally ready to have my computer read out my audio book to me. But no, it wants me to Activate my client before I can use it (even though it let me download books without activation). Still, this would be fine, except that it doesn’t actually accept my valid username and password! Hats off to Audible for making it really easy for me to give away my credit card information but making it nearly impossible for me to get the service I want, while pretending to be a legitimate business.
The Audible iPhone app worked fine – I was able to download and listen to books. But the Windows client would just not let me activate it. I called up Customer Service again, and they had no clue what was wrong. The only thing that I could think up was that I had an extraordinarily long password. I mentioned that to Customer Service and they said that it shouldn’t have any effect. Also I was able to log into the website and the iPhone app using this password. After getting no where with Customer Service, I hung up and decided to change my password to a shorter one. Lo and behold, suddenly I was able to activate the client. What a horrible bug to have, and be completely oblivious to its existence.
The only good thing was that I was able to change my password back to the long one after activation and the client kept working.
Great job Audible! You make me seriously doubt if I want to renew my membership next month.