Free (from Rhapsody) at Last

[Updated April 2005]

First, let me just say that to cancel your Rhapsody subscription, call 1 866 834 5509 (the message on that line announces you’ve reached the "Rhapsody Cancellation Team"). Per a comment below, 1 866 311 0566 also works; the number currently listed online is 1 866 563 6157. All three appear to work. The listed hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time from Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Saturday and Sunday. 

Now to our story:

I subscribed to Listen.com’s Rhapsody music service sometime early last year. I was done with my free ("illegal") music downloading, still wanted to listen to stuff on my computer, and for one reason or another wasn’t into any of the other paid alternatives. So I signed up for ten bucks a month and streamed music to my heart’s occasional content (the absence of Aretha Franklin’s "Until You Come Back to Me" from the Rhapsody library was a near-fatal flaw). But late in the spring, the TechTV layoff separated me from my Windows laptop, and I bought a little iBook as its more-than-capable replacement. Alas, Rhapsody doesn’t play on the Mac. Although I could still use the service from Windows machines installed at Infospigot World Headquarters, I decided to cancel the service. …

One thing that had changed about Listen.com since I had subscribed to Rhapsody was that it had been bought out by RealNetworks. So dropping Rhapsody now meant running RealNetworks’ cancellation gantlet. See, you can sign up for Real’s services online, and you can upgrade your service (and pay Real more money), but to get rid of it, you need to explore their sites for well-concealed links, then call a cancellation number, then talk to a human being and get interrogated about your reasons for canceling.

More than once, I got to the point where I found the cancellation number (1 866 834 5509), only to find that I was calling outside the hours the line was open, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern on the weekends. Canceling Rhapsody wasn’t a top item on my to-do list, and month after month I continued to dribble out the $10 fee. Finally, last week I wrote down the cancellation number and put it next to my phone so I’d remember to call. Then I lost the slip of paper and forgot all about it. Then, last night, I was telling Kate about iTunes, which I use with my iBook, and she asked whether the Rhapsody account was still active. "Yes," I said. "Let’s cancel it now," she sweetly suggested.

So I looked up the cancellation number again. If you’re lucky or a really good guesser, you need to click through at least two pages to get to the page ("Find Answers") where a cancel link is displayed. (No, cancellation is not covered in Rhapsody’s FAQ, though I’ll bet anything it’s one of the most frequently asked questions about the service). When you hit that link, you’re confronted with a form titled "Rhapsody Account Telephone Cancellation." It says:

"Please note, this form leads to the Rhapsody account-cancellation phone number. The information on this form routes your phone call to the right department. Help us improve RealRhapsody! Please let us know why you are cancelling."

At the bottom of the page is a button marked "View Phone Number." If you hit that before you’ve said why you’re quitting, a window pops up saying "please tell us why you’re cancelling." I’d love to see the reasons people give. I tried, "Due to recent surgery, I am now deaf and can no longer hear music." (Also: "My dog died." And: "iTunes rocks and Rhapsody walks.") After you jump through that hoop, you get to see the phone number. But the fun’s not over yet.

When you call, you first get a message saying, "You’ve arrived at the Rhapsody cancellation team. If you think you’re at the wrong place, press 9 …." Then you go into a queue. This morning, the call was picked up after a couple of minutes by a young woman.

She asked why I was calling. "To cancel," I replied.

"I could always go ahead and do that for you," she said, "but can I ask why you want to cancel the service?" Because I want to cancel, I said. She asked whether I had gotten to use all of Rhapsody’s great features. "Please, I just want to cancel," I said. "All right, I can do that. But can I ask why?" "I just want to cancel. I know you’re reading the script you’ve been given and are just trying to do your job, and this call has probably been sourced out to a call center someplace, but all I want to do is cancel my account. Could you please do that?"

At this point, she agreed, and I got no more questions about my motivation. For what it’s worth, she was working all night in a call center in southern India (I asked).

If you query Rhapsody’s "Find Answers" database, you find that Real makes it tough to cancel for the customer’s own good. That’s because the company — which makes you leap the same hurdles when you try to drop other premium services, like RealOne Superpass — doesn’t think you know what you’re doing when you decide to cancel. Not letting you cancel online is actually a perk, Real says, because the "toll-free [cancellation] phone call allows us to offer specialized technical support and customer services to our subscribers." Translation: We need to talk! The customer can’t always be right! Please, please reconsider this madness!

People have been complaining about this for years, and apparently there’s no way to shame Real out of this aggressively user-unfriendly way of doing business. Their motive is clear: Making exits hard keeps a certain amount of accidental revenue flowing; in my case, I’ve paid them $60 or more that I wouldn’t have if the cancellation process was simple (in effect, online). But that short-term gain aside, you’ve really got to wonder what the tradeoff is in terms of lost goodwill.

35 Replies to “Free (from Rhapsody) at Last”

  1. AMEN brother…. I was on hold with rhapsody for three hours until I found your site giving me the hours of operation, such a bad customer service to make you call to cancel! When I get them on the phone I am going to scream all my answers in response to their stupid script!

  2. Real Rhapsody is a SCAM!!!
    So far 2 1/2 hours on hold (and still counting) as I type this. The hold time has given me ample time to post all over the net what a POS Real Networks is and what a rip-off the service is (especially having to cancel by phone).
    http://www.theregister.com/2003/10/14/real_talks_to_itself_about/
    Also says that too many customers have cancelled only to find out their credit card is being charged.
    As soon as these nitwits answer, I’m going to write about my experience on my blog and I can assure you that I’m going to link this blog!

  3. wow holy crap ive been on hold now for 2 hours im listening to their crappy music right now its bad im def gonna cancel is there a speadier way of canceling i dont have two hours to hold

  4. Reading your posts makes me think I should cancel before my trial subscription runs out. I had a problem today with Rhapsody suddenly not recognizing my password and user name, and to even find a phone number was like detective work. The upshot is that I stayed on hold through all their recorded apologies and then when I supposedly was connection to a real person, they disconnected me–all I got was a loud dial tone. Wish I head read this page before I got involved.

  5. I just found your site, called while reading. I guess I was lucky, got a cancellation in under 2 minutes at 6:30 on a Sunday night.

  6. Oh, this is just great… :\ Though I got plenty of use out of it now it’s my turn to deal with this. Im going in! Wish me luck. 😉

  7. I called the day after signing up, just to find out later that the person never actually cancelled my account when they said they were going to, and believe me, I jumped through all the hoops to do it! I was so livid, this time I called, I got an email Instantly saying I had been unsubscribed with a promise that I’d be fully refunded in 7-10 business days. I sure hope that wasn’t another lie!

  8. Yep just canceled again. I called back in january to find it was outside their hours of opp. then called again and was on hold forever. They bamboozeled me into accepting a one month complimentery thing and said I only needed to reply to them if I decided I wanted to rejoin. this month I found a charge to my card. dirty &@$%#%@. I called again and got the grulling questios and they told me how much their services have improved.. bla bla blah. Oh and said that I had to reply to the e-mail if I did was the subscription to end so It was realy MY FAULT is wasn’t canceled. No hopefully they will go ahead and cancel it and refund my card.
    OH and before i hung up he said “I’ll leave you to going to the music store to buy music” I haven’t been to a music store to buy music in years does he acctualy think i will start now?

  9. Yep, me too. On hold forever. I’m going to call my credit card and tell them to dispute the charge and to stop paying it. That way Rhapsody will have to pay some extra dough to process my cancelation.

  10. I wish I’d read this BEFORE trying Rhapsody.
    I cancelled because I could not find the songs i wanted. I might have come back in the future, but no way with this sort of crappy service.
    btw – i’m still on hold after 2 hours…
    I was lucky and found the phone number after only an hour of searching through their forms and sending dozens of emails through their customer service.

  11. Got in instantly at Friday 11:00 Eastern @ 866-311-0566. A very fast speaking operator on a poor connection handled the transaction. Had to listen to a couple of offers, but “just said no”. The operator also asked me what I liked about the site, but didn’t ask me how things could be improved.
    Quit the service because I’m moving, but I’ve been unhappy with the 99 cent download-only songs that have dramatically increased on the site versus the stream-and-listen method, which was why I subscribed.

  12. ridiculously angry with both realrhapsody and aol. neither appears to be able to be cancelled and i have been trying for about 2 months now. the number is impossible to find. i only found it through blogs about the subject. today i will try to call. bastards charged me for a service i’ve never even used or logged into. if all else fails, i’m closing everything else down so there’s nothing for them to sink their vampiric fangs into.

  13. Rhapsody is an unfair company. If they provide only account creation they should also provide online account cancellation.
    I’m currently on hold with them. Lets see how it goes…
    Well, at least it looks like they have improved their customer service. I got an answer back from the customer representative in 10 minutes and she cancelled the account without complains.They also accepted to refund.
    If just they would allow online cancellation I would consider them a good and fair company to do business with.

  14. I sent this message to Real customer service:
    “To whom it may concern,
    Last month I was involved with an accident at work. One of the oxygen tanks we were moving exploded. I was fotunate enough to survive with mostly minor injuries, however, I lost most of my hearing in the blast.
    Unfortunately, this means that I can no longer listen to music. Therefore, I will be cancelling my Real Rhapsody subscription. However, I was unable to find your TDD cancellation phone number. Do you have one? If not, how can I go about cancelling my service?
    Thanks.”
    Several hours later, I recieved an automated “your rhapsody service” has been cancelled message followed by a response to my service inquiry.
    What kind and understanding people they have at Real.
    The nice thing is, even if they don’t unsubscribe me for a few months.. I have the e-mail responses to back myself up.

  15. I’ve been thinking about cancelling Rhapsody. What if you call your credit card company and say you made a good faith effort to cancel the agreement but they are not cooperating? Would the credit card provider be able to cancel the agreement?

  16. I signed up for the free trial so I could listen at work, only to find that my company IS blocks rhapsody. I found a number on the internet to cancel, and the call was answered very quickly— I told the guy I couldn’t listen at work– “well, do you have a computer at home? Do you have an MP3 player? Do you…” questions, questions,– my response, “Yes, but I want to cancel, I don’t like your service–” He’d get very defensive– “Okay, ma’am I am canceling it as we speak– I’m just asking why you are cancelling, if you don’t want to tell me the real reason…” Me: “I don’t want to pay for your service, just cancel it, I do not want to be charged.”
    Him: “Well, if you don’t want to pay- I can extend your trial for another month- you’ve only had it for 11 days…”
    Me: “No, just cancel it now.” Him: “Okay, jeez I am cancelling it, these things take awhile, be patient..”
    ME: Is it cancelled yet?” Him: “I’m cancelling, just tell me why you are cancelling…”
    Finally, an email came through that said I had been canceled. Why does it take so long to cancel? Have you heard about the guy who is suing AOL for harrassment- he taped his cancellation call which lasted for 47 minutes, and all the guy said was “Please cancel my account” over and over for 47 minutes and the operator lost it, and got so angry at him he started shouting profanity. He tried to get the guy to reconsider for almost an hour!

  17. What a story. This is a little like going to a brick-and-mortar music place–let’s say Virgin–and having them refuse to let you leave the store until you give them a good reason you’re not saying. That sounds like desperation to me; these companies are so hungry for revenue they’ll do anything to keep their customers locked in even if it makes the customers angry and creates negative publicity. I don’t get it.

  18. I’m currently on hold, going on 20 mins. now. I don’t have time for this. I have a midterm in 2 days and a major research essay the next day!
    I don’t see the benifit of rhapsody, and I don’t want to pay for the free trial. If I knew that the trial would keep me on the phone for this long, I would have never signed up.
    My SBC internet comes with a personal streamed station that learns what I like as I rate the music, etc… so I just wanted to prepay some music and be done with it. WTF!

  19. I was on hold trying to cancel Rhapsody for 50 minutes yesterday, until a recording came on saying “call wait time is over 50 minutes, please try to call back later”…then then line went dead. I’m on hold with them again now, 15 minutes and counting. If I can’t get through soon, I plan on calling my credit card company to tell them to halt charges.

  20. I actually found this post by searching the number that I found in the name they charge my Credit card by. RN 866-834-5509
    I’ll keep it in mind if I ever want to cancel.

  21. I use my rhapsody account and like it, but when I do decide to cancel (no plans yet), whatever the reason, I will not put up with this crap.
    How about cancelling the credit card used to sign up? That would effectively cancel the account right?

  22. I cancelled back in August of 2006 and said I didnt want anything more to do with the company when I got offered the free month trial deal. I hadnt been charged at all until all the sudden I was getting hit with the $10 a month and it wasnt until april (4 months later) that I found out whats goin on. Im pretty ticked about it too. They should be shut down.

  23. Same stuff as all the above, just noted charge for quarterly when i thought i cancelled 4 months ago.Got me for 50 bucks. Worst hucksters i’ve encountered in a long time. I hope their goldfish die.

  24. I didn’t even sign up for Rhapsody, but rather found a charge on my card for 14.99. I have put the fraud team at VISA on top of these sheisters. Notify your card company immediately when you notice fraudulent charges, they will investigate them and VISA atleast is well aware of the issue. F-U Rhapsody

  25. Yes, poormonkey they are sheisters. I never signed up for Rhapsody but lo & behold my discover card was charged 14.99 last month by them. I have no idea how they got my card info as I haven’t used it in 2 months. Plus, I am fairly computer illiterate and I don’t download or burn cd’s so I don’t know how they got a hold of me. When I called them, they don’t even have my email address, when they pulled up the account info by the credit card #, it was someone else’s name & info. I called discover right away, but all they thought was that the charge was just misposted, because if it were fraud, my credit card would have a higher balance than 14.99!!MY account will probably be credited, but no one seemes to care about how these people got my info!

  26. Those trashholes charged me for 6 months after i cancelled it. the first guy tried to just refund me one month. i told him that wasnt happening and i needed to talk to someone who could get me a real refund. he did. make sure when you call you talk to a supervisor if necessary! the next guy only refunded me 3 more months but i figured 4 months out of 6 isnt bad when i didnt have the cancellation number or anything (i guess i lost it moving adn stuff?). if i had my cancellation number from 6 months ago, i could have gotten 2 more months refund back, but i just accepted 4. dang.
    but can someone please tell me how this company is seriously still operating? amazing. i’ve never heard one good thing. much less anything positive about their service.

  27. All You have to do is make one call to your credit card company on file with rhapsody and cancel the payments through them..Rhapsody will contact you to clear the matter up you tell them you canceled the account and would like it marked

  28. Another easy way if you have access to one-time credit card numbers is to create a number for the trial and then close the CC number.

  29. I signed up for the two week trial, then called them specifically to cancel…so he offered me a month free and I took it…
    Next time I call I will make sure he knows that I don’t like the price, and see I can get him to lower my fee or give another free month or something 😛
    But I only spent five minutes on the phone….My advice is to actually tell him why you’re canceling rather than evade his question…if you don’t have a reason, say price 😉

  30. I have called and requested this service to be canceled without success. I am therefore requesting in this comment that it be canceled and request written confirmation. I hope you read your comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *