iTunes movie rental – the fine prints

My hubby and I rarely watch a movie. We rent or go out to watch a movie may be once every two months. The new movie rental offering on iTunes seems to be a good match for us. When I heard that you can watch the movie on the iPod, I got even more excited because I have a DLO HomeDock Deluxe which is the middle man between an iPod and a TV. The whole thing seems to be too good to be true.

First of all, selecting a movie to rent on iTunes is totally not the same as visiting the video store. We have a habit of walking through the entire selection of new releases in the store before making a decision. There is no such thing as “new releases” on iTunes (at least for now). There are some lists for “Top Rental”, “Top Movies”, and “Top Short Films”. None of them is helpful. The top rentals or movies are both popularity contests. Ancient movies can show up on those lists. I want NEW releases, damn it!

After fooling around a while, we went ahead with renting Superbad. I clicked the “Rent Movie” button, went through entering my password, then nothing. Tried one more time, I was led to review my account info after entering the password. I think it finally worked the third time and the movie started downloading in iTunes. We have no intention of watching the movie on the computer so we must wait for the movie to download completely. 1.26GB in all and it took more than 2 hours.

At this point, the evening was almost over. He decided to go to bed. I plugged in my iPod to see if I can at least get ahead with transferring 1.26GB. But I had no idea what to do. The movie is showing in the newly appeared “Rented Movies” tab under the Library section of iTunes. I left and right clicked on the movie and there is nothing I can choose to move it over to the iPod. I went to the Help menu and found this:

After the movie downloads to your computer, to transfer the rental to an iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV, connect the device, select it in iTunes, click the Movies tab, select the movie, and then click Move.

Okay, my movie is not in the “Movies” tab and when I select mine in “Rented Movies”, there is no “Move” button. Finally, I want to the Apple website and found out rented movies can only be transferred to the iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, or iPod nano (3rd generation). I have an iPod (5G), D’oh!! What the hell? My iPod can play video but it is not allowed to consume rented movies! I looked around the Apple Discussions and it turns out many people have problems downloading or playing the rented movies (here’s a similar story from a blog). I haven’t even play the one I downloaded so I don’t know the quality of what I got. A $3.99 lesson is not a huge deal but the iPod fine prints should be out there up in front. I looked up the movie purchase in my account and selected “Report a problem” with a note about having the wrong iPod. Let’s see what the Apple rep would say.

Update (4 hours later): I received an email from Apple:

The order containing this item is currently processing. Your request is flagged for follow-up and I will contact you once I have more information about your order. Please note that processing can take up to 3 days from the date of purchase. Thank you for your patience in this matter.


iTunes Store Customer Support

Alright, wait 3 more days….

Update (Jan 24, 08): I received another email from Apple:

I have reversed the charge for the accidental purchase. You will see a credit of $3.99, which includes any estimated applicable taxes, in three to five business days. Please note that the iTunes Store Terms of Sale state that all sales are final, so this is a one-time exception.

To avoid accidental purchases in the future, you can configure iTunes to use the Shopping Cart. That way, you can review your selections before paying for them. Just follow these easy steps:

Instructions for using the iTunes Store shopping cart


iTunes Store Customer Support

Although I didn’t exactly have an accidental purchase, I got a refund. And here’s how it looks in my iTunes account. Lesson to others who also ran into the not-having-the-right-iPod issue just like me, “Report a problem” in iTunes and may be you will get a refund, too.


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