Monday, January 8, 2007

My Beef with Creative Labs

Just about two years ago, I finally decided to get an MP3 player. I was (and still am) driving long ways to work, and generally in my car a lot, so I thought bringing a music player along on my trips would be a good idea. And indeed it was. I bought a Creative Labs Zen Sleek to fulfill this gap in my life.

For starters, the reason I bought this player and not an ipod or another brand was because it has a lot of memory (at least 5 gigs, maybe more), a radio, a voice recorder, and the ability to transfer other files. It also got a fairly good writeup in Consumer Reports, which is my Bible for buying big (and sometimes small) purchases. And at the time, the ipods cost more for seemingly less "stuff". So I went with the Zen. It was great. But bear with me as the story takes a turn...

I used this Zen quite frequently to listen to music, but after a month or so, I found that I didn't bother using the other features, such as the radio, voice recorder, and file transferring ability. Oh well, no big deal. I still enjoyed the music part of it.

Then, after about 6 months of using it, I noticed the battery life getting shorter, and eventually it dropped down to about 2 hours of playing time (from probably 8-10 hours when I first got it). I could deal with that... just charge it more frequently, not a huge issue.

Then, after about a year, I noticed that towards the end of the battery life, the player would just freeze and stop working. I started to contact the customer service department through email and got rather helpful instructions on how to un-freeze it, but it didn't necessarily prevent the freezing from happening. At this point I was getting peeved, but still used the player fairly often.

Well, after that, it got to the point where I would charge my player, unplug it and go to turn it on and... nothing. It didn't go on. From all indications the power button stopped functioning. But if I reconnected it to the charger, it would go on automatically. I couldn't turn it on or off after that, however, just had to let it run down. To my knowledge, I never misused the player or did anything wrong, it just broke.

So I contacted the customer service department again via email and they gave me a link to their massive suport page with a rather extensive list of options to consider, each with a whole bunch of steps to follow. Either none of the options applied to my problem or none of the the rest seemed to work or I just couldn't follow all of the steps.. So I had it out with Creative Labs via email and just said that I was really tired of the problems and just wanted the stupid thing to work.

An email was returned to me saying they were sorry about the problems, but it would cost me $122 to send it back and have it fixed unless I had the extended warranty (which I didn't), plus I had to fill out a whole form, yadda yadda yadda. Oh and then they tell me that I also have run out of time to email the support department and I would have to pay to get help, though I could use the massive support page on their website at no charge. Ain't that peachy keen?

So the moral of the story then, kiddies, is either--
  1. Don't expect an item that costs $200 to last too long, even when used properly (unless you pay more for the extended warranty!).
  2. Don't expect a company to do anything it can to keep your business and help you in any way possible when you have a problem with their products. (The customer is only right when they can figure the problem out on their own.)
  3. Don't buy from Creative Labs. (How bout that unique selling point for its next marketing tagline?)
I don't know what the correct answer is there. But if you'd like to find out, please go to my support page at, www....

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