I recently bought a Sandisk Sansa MP3 player to use with subscription music download services (Rhapsody and Yahoo Music Unlimited). The device came with a free trial for Audible.com, a website where you can download audiobook content ala carte or with a subscription.
I also have a Sonos system, which recently added Audible support, so I went ahead and signed up for the platinum Audible subscription. For $22.95 a month you can download two audio books a month and get a subscription to the audio editions of The Wall Street Journal or New York Times. A pretty decent deal I thought, since I commute over an hour to work and back each day and can listen in the car with the Sansa or at home through the Sonos.
I have no issue with Audible's website and although the audio format quality is poor, I decided to keep the service because high quality audio is not important to me for book narration.
When I enrolled in the service I was given two free credits and 14 days.
I immediately downloaded The March by E.L. Doctorow and have been enjoying listening to the novel for about an hour each day in the car.
I saved my other free credit, because I really wanted to make sure I selected the right book. I've been reading book reviews like a madman looking for my next pick. I figured with only 2 books a month, I had better make informed choices to get the most of my $23 a month.
I finally decided to download "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century" by Thomas L. Friedman. I had been wanting to read the much-hyped book for quite some time and finally made the decision to spend my remaining free Audible credit on it based on numerous stellar reviews.
I logged into my Audible account and saw that I had 2 credits. My two week trial period had passed and my credit card was charged $23 for my first paid month. Two credits were added to my account, but where was my leftover free credit? I should have 3 credits in my account. A deal is a deal.
Nope. I discovered that if you don't use your free credits in the first two weeks, they expire, even when you have paid for a permanent membership.
This kind of trickery is a scummy business practice to begin with, but it was the way "Mike Z." handled an irate customer that really left me scratching my head.
I have not checked, but I am sure somewhere in the fine print it was written that non-used credits expire after the trial period ends. I will concede that Audible's tactics here are legal, but are they ethical? The fact that credits would expire was not "easily visible" when I signed up. I received no email to warn me they would expire either. It is obviously the hope of Audible that they would not have to pay out what they promised to schmucks like me.