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Creative Returns, or Why I Left the Zen Micro and Went to the Dark Side

As you might remember, up until now I've been an enthusiastic owner of a Zen Micro. Creative's policy of pushing extended warranties--an annoyance to others as well-- drove me away from the fold.

Last week, the player simply stopped working. Indeed, it stopped responding to any commands once turned on, including the "off" switch. I tried everything suggested on the website, including flashing the firmware and formatting the drive, but eventually came to the conclusion that the problem was beyond me and it would need to be returned. Fortunately, I'd bought it twenty-nine days ago.

So I called Creative's customer support. I didn't want to return the unit for another if it could be easily fixed, and figured that getting service out of Creative would be easier than a refund from Amazon. At which point the member of Creative's technical team turns into a salesman.

It seems that Creative's technical support won't pay for inbound shipping on the return. In and of itself, this would be a minor grumble, but then she informs me that if I am willing to pay for the special extended warranty, they'll pay for all shipping for this and any future problems that occur in two years. The gall of this sales technique prompts me to issue two official Three Years of Hell Official Guidance Notices for How Not to Make Your Customer Service Look Like It Is Managed By Malevolent Monkeys:

To Creative's technical department: If a customer calls up with a player that's failed within 30 days, you might want to get the unit back just to see what happened. Given that it failed after installing one of your upgrades, you might want to see if something is going wrong. Especially if the problem has already received a number of complaints on your support forum. (Then again, maybe you know and you don't care.)

To Creative's marketing department: If your genius idea of marketing an extended warranty plan is to offer it to a new customer with a failed product, look at what you're signalling. (1) You're asking me to pay a lot of money for a warranty to avoid a smaller shipping charge. (2) You're asking me to pay more money when I'm legitimately annoyed that your product failed. (3) You're telling me that I should pay now because over the two year lifetime of the product, I should expect it to fail again.

So in the end, I packaged the product back up, used Amazon's helpful return and exchange policy, and am now on the waiting list for a similarly-priced iPod Nano. I just have to figure out how to get all my music to be recognized.


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