Movie industry, meet the music industry…Please.

Who the he** came up with this “Ultraviolet Digital Copy” crap?!?!  It’s the new Digital Copy they included with the last two Harry Potter movies (or the one two-part movie, whichever you prefer).  It SUCKS!  You first have to register with some Ultraviolet website, which then has to be integrated with your Flixster account.  Then, if you manage to get THAT far–which isn’t a walk in the park–you can finally stream your movie using your Flixster app on your device.   Who would want to use yet another app to view a movie they purchased?!?  Not me.

The first thing I did after purchasing the final Harry Potter movie (part 2), was pull out part 1 and try to install the digital copy for Kevin on his iPod.  Guess what?  It expired already.  The expiration date was on the card in the “fine print”.  Nice.  I didn’t activate it on purpose when I got it, since we didn’t even want to watch it until the “complete” movie was out, so we could then watch it beginning-to-end.  Now I was screwed.  I tried to activate it anyway, and all I got (after I jumped through all of the Ultraviolet/Flixster hoops) was a message saying “your disc will arrive in the mail within 2-3 weeks).  Nothing saying it was expired or anything, just that a disc was coming.  I then went to the part 2 and activated that one at least, since it wouldn’t be expired yet.  I jumped through the same stupid hoops, and then got to the goofy decision–do I want to stream it on Flixster or download a copy?  I tried the “download a copy” option, but it requires special software installed on your PC!  What?!?!

I wasn’t about to give up though.  This simply isn’t acceptable.  Who, in their right mind, actually uses this worthless digital copy crap??  All others before this simply had us enter a code in iTunes and the digital copy downloaded–even if they provided a “digital copy disc” in the box, which is another bizarre thing–why the heck is the disc needed if it’s going to download the movie from the web anyway?? But it worked pretty good.  The movie was then in iTunes, instantly available on the iPod for playing.  This is how we want to access ALL of our movies downloaded to the iPod–from the Movies app, which works perfectly fine.  To accomplish this for these two movies, I had to convert the DVD using CloneDVD Mobile & AnyDVD–an awesome set of applications I’ve used on the PC for years.  These two apps work together, with AnyDVD removing the copy protection from the DVD automatically whenever I insert one into my PC, then I use CloneDVD Mobile to convert the unprotected movie into a file.  Once the file is created, I can use it wherever I want.  You can create the file for specific devices, such as the iPod, to make a smaller file size, or create a generic higher-resolution file that’ll play on anything (and looks good on a tablet or PC screen), but it’ll be much larger in size.  For Kevin I simply made smaller iPod-sized movies, then dragged them into iTunes.  I worked out fine, and now all of his movies are still in one place.

Now I’m waiting for some useless disc to arrive in the mail, just wondering how much additional junk mail promotions will be included along with it, as well as how much more junk mail this will add to my postman’s daily delivery.  Wonderful.

When are the movie companies going to realize–just like the music industry did–that they’re punishing their paying customers??? Apple finally eventually removed all of their copy protection from their music (but kept their goofy “registered” music format files for some reason) and now sell everything unprotected, and Amazon sells everything as bare MP3 files, which is awesome.  I can purchase a song or album from Amazon and put it on whatever I want to play it.  THAT’S what I want for my movies too.  If the movie industry would realize this, as the music industry did, I could stop giving my money to SlySoft (maker of AnyDVD and CloneDVD Mobile) and instead spend that money buying more digital movies.

Lillian Vernon Fiasco

Back in early September (September 10th to be exact) Kevin found a really neat costume set for Halloween from a catalog we received in the mail.  It was a Lillian Vernon catalog.  I checked them out online and they sounded legit, so we decided to order the costume for Kevin.  It was a Harry Potter costume, complete with magic wand, tattoos for the forehead scar and others, and of course, the robe along with a few other things.

We ordered the costume that day, 9/10/05, and we were assured shortly after that it would be delivered no later than 9/28/05 — in plenty of time for Halloween.  Well, you can guess the rest, but I’ll give you all the painful details.  A couple weeks after we ordered the costume we got a postcard informing us that it was now on backorder and there would be a delay in shipment.  We were called on the phone by someone at Lillian Vernon and asked if we still wanted the item, which they assured us would still be shipped in plenty of time for Halloween.  Since we were assured to get it in time, naturally we said we’d still take it, so they kept the order going.

Now here’s where it gets bizarre.  Last week we received a postcard in the mail telling us that our order has shipped, and to please allow 5-7 days for delivery.  Excellent, we thought!  So we waited, checking the mail every day, waiting for the package, until it got well over 7 days and into this week.  Today we got another postcard in the mail that says “SORRY, BUT WE CANNOT FILL YOUR ORDER AS REQUESTED.  We are unable to deliver the items listed as they are sold out.  YOU WILL NOT BE CHARGED FOR THESE ITEMS.

BUT IT SHIPPED!?!?!?! How can a company simply LIE like that?!?! And what would be the point?? To keep us from cancelling while they try to find a costume for us?? This is rediculous!  So Sandy called their Customer Service number on today’s postcard to complain.  She explained to the customer service rep and asked what the heck was going on, and they checked on what had happened.  The lady apologizes and then says that the system shows that they now have the costume available for immediate delivery, and that we could have it here by Friday is we would like to order it.

We were thoroughly confused at that point, and very frustrated at having been spun around so many times we were now dizzy.  Sandy gave me the phone and had her explain it to me.  Once she did, I was very angry and no longer willing to trust them at all.  But I had one more question for her first.  She had a heavy accent, and I wanted to confirm what I already thought: That this was just some outsourced “Customer Service” Service located overseas, like every other company is doing these days, and she really knows nothing about the actual company at all, but is just following a written (or computer-based) procedure.  She admitted that yes, she is located in the Phillipines.  I then told her that I would NOT like to order it any longer, and told her we no longer trusted this company, and would not be ordering from them in the future, and I hung up frustrated.  Needless to say, I also removed their link from our Bookmark section on this site.  We’re no longer willing to support or recommend them.

Sandy went out searching for a costume solution for Kevin after this call today, and I think she did a nice job.  It’s totally different than what Kevin originally wanted, but she must know what he likes, because after we explained the situation to him and showed him his new costume he really liked it.  We told him that if he still wanted to be Harry Potter instead, we would return this one and look for Harry Potter, which we had even seen recently at Toys R Us.  He said no, he’d keep this one, and was very excited about it.

I’ll save the “Shock and Awe” of what his new costume is for when we post the Halloween photos, but this sentence is enough of a clue in itself, so there ya go.  😉