May 26, 2021 Yesterday (out of the blue) I got this email from Audible
Due to the significant number of returns you’ve submitted, starting today your return privileges are on hold for a period of six months. You will not be able to return titles online or via Customer Service.
Please be advised that should you sign up for a new Audible membership, the pause on your return privileges will apply to the new account as well.
As a reminder, per our policy, Audible reserves the right to limit the number of returns, and the loss of return privileges if we determine your return volume to be abusive.
For assistance, you can email us at email@example.com.
The Audible Team
(The Audible terms and conditions were changed and updated many times. No one ever reads them. Unlimited returns if the book was one year old was their idea. Now rather than admit fault they want me to made out to be abusive.)
Naturally I cancelled my Audible at once. I was only keeping the Membership so I could make returns. I was able (for the short time I could make them) to explore a number of audio books. I would sometime return them and buy the Kindle book instead, and I used to sometimes buy cheaper books that were less than the cost of a credit, but now I won’t buy anymore audiobooks from Audible Inc. unless I am sure I like the writer and the narrator. The price of the those audiobooks will be higher without a membership. I will not be able to return any of the books. I think a 30 day return policy would have been acceptable. Audible invented the one year return date policy themselves. In the finger pointing email, they want to paint me as a bad guy wantonly returning books left and right, but it’s not true.
Audible made it very hard to return books. I had to either call them on the phone or chat with them. This wasted a lot of my time. I have enough audiobooks and many of them I have not even had time to finish, because I had to constantly listen to new books to use the credits. I used to buy books on cd and make them into files before Audible was created. I once spent so much time listening to favorites William Burroughs that I would not always maintain my Audible membership. Audible invented the concept of free books if you keep your membership, but all the free books were terrible except for the one read by Tony Shalhoub. I stopped even looking or downloading the free books because they were so bad. I had to have a representative delete the terrible free books. Now there is a new plan or a deal they are offering: Exclusive Prime Member Offer: Get Audible Premium Plus for just $6.95 a month for your first 4 months, and get 1 audiobook of your choice each month. (It used to be two free book a month and all of them were terrible. This fraud looks good on the surface. Seven Dollars a month however, only gives you the opportunity to have a credit and get one desirable book per month. They also have or had a lower rate if you only wanted to listen to undesirable books, but you got no credits for a good book. The terms and conditions change monthly as the marketers keep inventing new scams. The low introductory rates is because most people forget to cancel and then have to pay the higher rate. People also forget to use the subscription and it remains hidden on one’s credit card statement for years.
Then they invented to concept of podcasts on Audible. The idea was the people would listen to the free podcasts and keep their membership just to listen to them. This did not work on me. I do not listen to or care about podcasts, if I don’t know the people or the subject. Free podcasts can be heard on You Tube. After none of these marketing ideas worked Audible brought back badges just like I was playing Foursquare. I could earn badges like the “you stayed up all night listening” badge. I did not like Audible Badges the first time around, and there is no way to turn them off. Not having a membership currently active hopefully means no more badges which are an undesirable interruption.
Death comes to one by 1000 little cuts. In the modern age you can die from entertaining distractions. If I was to do all the extra actives on Audible it could waste hours more of time, when I have more entertaining distractions that I can find elsewhere. Audible distractions fail to be entertaining. This is what they really need to work on if they want to convinced people to keep a membership and get stuck with more audiobooks then they will ever have time to finish.
I would buy any book by David Foster Wallace, but he is dead now. The latest Haruki Murakami was so bad, I returned it. I started to listen but I could not get into the first two short stories. I like buying classic audiobooks (older than 1950) if the reader has a good voice. I am very picky about the reader’s voice. I bought books by established writers and self help books which I would then return if I did not like them. I liked biographies and autobiographies. I bought some classic Cyberpunk books. I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves are the perfect example of the kind of book I like to listen to. The book is entertaining and yet it also historical and meaningful. It’s hard to get interested in fictional characters unless one knows the series or has a connection with the story. For example a novel read in high school such as Moby Dick is a great choice for an audiobook. But, it’s hard to start on a new fictional book or a new series of fictional books if the author is not established yet. JR by William Gaddis was incredible, but I could not keep it because they did not say which character is speaking. The whole book is written in dialogue, I bought the Kindle Book instead after returning it. Someone in my lit group in Facebook said the trick to JR was to listen the narrator’s voice change and try to figure how was speaking. I am not a thoughtless person burning through books and returning them. I spend time with them, keep notes on them, and even write book reviews.
When you cancel your Audible make sure it’s really cancelled. I just got an email saying “Welcome back to Audible”, followed by a “sorry to see you go” email in the time I spend writing the blog post. If I can’t return books I don’t have to put up with free books, badges or time wasting podcasts. I see this as a positive change in my life. I will be less annoyed. I will have greater peace of mind and be free from sleazy marketing department’s bold new plans to make people into suckers.
Updated: June 20 2020 Although I had said earlier that Scribd had only cheap audio books, so I did not want the membership, I revisited Scribd on the last day of my trial and they have more than just audiobooks. They also have digital books you can read and sheet music. I looked at a book of Piano Sheet Music from Hal Leonard by The Beatles, but the book did not have the lyrics printed underneath the notes. I can see why this book is less desirable. Essentially you can get the books on Scribd for free elsewhere or they may be included on the so called “Unlimited Kindle Plan” which also only has cheaper and less popular books. Scribd is a better deal because you get things to listen and things to read, plus sheet music should you feel like playing it. I am not sure I would use it enough to merit buying a membership due to lack of time. Lack of time is caused by other interests and there are so many media entertainments online that one can’t possible keep up them all of them.
The one advantage to Scribd over Kindle and Audible is they seem like a reputable company who does try to invent new ways to cheat people out of money with never ending subscriptions offering little of value. Scribd is subscription based but Amazon requires two subscriptions to give you what Scribd has to offer both text and audio books, as well as other things like magazines and images. I just don’t have time to read, my Kindle Account has books on it that I only read if on an airplane with no internet connection. As long as the entire web is available to me I feel like I am wasting to time on book that is a closed environment. If I read a book I want to save notes and make comments. I want to share with other people so I can get their take on the books. Interaction is the key to enjoyment.
I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org to complain but they do not reply or even read my email. One month has passed, so I contacted Audible chat to complain. Here are some humorous screen captures from this chat.
In the course of the chat they transferred me to several different agents, each one wanted to me to reverify my account. This was because I did not accept their rhetoric. I was so angry I made significant spelling and grammatical errors, but I left those in. I only removed the names for privacy. It was not the agent’s fault. They only do what the Amazon Policy forces them to do and say. People need to take notice of this transferring technique because Paypal and Ebay also used it on me. They want you to start all over from the beginning to tired you out and make you stop chatting and go away.
The larger topic is media overload. It took me a lot of time to constantly have to buy so many books to use credits and to work to return those books. At first returns were easy and simple and slowly they made it harder and harder. They need to start paying the authors whose books are read and returned a portion of money not as much for keepers, but that would make it more fair. The whole policy is problematic. I have googled it and found that the publishers hate the idea. I am pretty sure Audible will eliminate returns soon just like with Kindle there is never a return allowed. But, this policy contributed to my personal media overload. I had to spend more time trying to decide if a book was a keeper by spending more time listening and deciding, rather than just buying and forgetting about the book which would saved me hours of time.