Here is the email I just sent to Warner Bros. And I got another email from iTunes today, throwing the ball back into Warner Bros' court, as you will see from the following...
Dear WB Customer Support,
Can you please forward this to your supervisor so that real action can be taken?
Thank you for checking and confirming that the files for all three LOTR movies at your end are stereo. Now that you have done that, I redirect you to the request I made in my previous email, which was...
"2. If you have checked, and are 100% certain that they are indeed STEREO, then can you get together with the iTunes engineers to find out why they are ending up mono, as their customer support rep has admitted?"
It is not a problem with me or my iTunes version or my computer. As I have stated before, iTunes Customer Support has already admitted that their files for "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" are MONO. And I already forwarded you what another customer said, which was...
"Unfortunately I made the mistake of purchasing these movies before finding this thread. Being an audiophile I knew right away something was wrong with the audio in "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King". I too have opened a case with iTunes support and requested THEY escalate this with Warner Bros. It should not be the customer's responsibility to do so. Here's hoping they actually do..."
Another customer has requested a refund from iTunes. I am not making this up. You can read the whole forum discussion here if you want to...
So instead of suggesting to me that I download the same bad files for a FOURTH time, why aren't you on the phone with iTunes to find out why your stereo files are being resold by them as mono files? Isn't that your job? Doesn't it concern you? Why is it being left to powerless customers to try to get you to do your job?
I have recontacted iTunes Customer Support as you suggested, and they have again passed the buck back to Warner Bros. Here is what they said in an email today...
"Please note that Digital Copy content is provided by the DVD production company. The production company is solely responsible for that product, the content therein, any warranties, and any claims that you or any other party may have relating to that Third-Party Product. Apple is not a party to the license between you and the content Provider with respect to that Third-Party Product.
For assistance with your Digital Copy content, please contact the production company from which the content was provided."
I have been very patient and civil, but it amazes me that I have had to email back and forth between Warner Bros and Apple for three months now, with no one taking responsibility for the error.
PLEASE get on the phone with iTunes to figure out where the problem is occurring. And don't just look at the file information, which of course says "stereo." LISTEN to the three movies with your ears. You will hear that iTunes' "Fellowship of the Ring" file has a nice stereo spread, but that their "Two Towers" and "Return of the King" files have all the audio centered, with NO stereo spread.
I and other customers look forward to your getting to the bottom of this problem, and fixing it.
Since I've not heard back from WB (surprise, surprise), I'm wondering if anyone else has had a response from iTunes.
I also realized that I should have specified that this problem is with the STANDARD definition movie files. I have no idea if the same problem is occuring with the HIGH definition movie files, as I did not purchase those versions.
mario-64, which version did you purchase?
Wow. This is getting really interesting. I had placed reviews in the iTunes Store of the two mono movies in question, to warn people that they would be purchasing mono movies until iTunes and/or Warner Bros takes responsibility and fixes it.
iTunes removed my reviews, with the message "Reviews with spam, profanity, hate speech, explicit/pornographic content, or commentary that is completely off topic are prohibited."
I can categorically say that there was none of that in my reviews - just the suggestion that iTunes needs to fix a problem.
I'm now expecting that this discussion thread will be similarly censored some time soon. Welcome to China.
You will probably find that the first movie is stereo, so no problem. It's just the second and third that are mono. But if you're happy watching these movies anywhere, anyhow, then maybe you'd be content with mono sound too. If you do end up downloading the second and third movies (just to be clear, we're talking about the EXTENDED editions), please let me know if they're still mono, thanks.
By the way, I got an email from the head of Digital Distribution of Warner Bros (after I sent him two letters) saying he was going to look into it. A month later I asked for an update and got no reply. That was about a month ago. :-(
Please if you want to take action, I urge you to write a letter to...
Warner Bros Digital Distribution
4000 Warner Blvd
Burbank, CA 91522
I sent him two letters, and I did get an email from him saying he would look into it and get back to me, but I have not heard from him in the three months since then (I emailed him for an update and got no reply). Hopefully if he hears from more than one person, action will be taken.
I even sent a letter to Peter Jackson in New Zealand a few weeks ago, to let him know how his movies are being sold. No reply, though I'm sure he has bigger things on his plate right now!
Wow, I really hope Apple does something about this.
This thread has over 1000 views which suggests to me that people are looking at the issue - if you search for reviews of the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition, it pops right up, and I would be buying and downloading it right now as I've been waiting for the iTunes release of these but there's no way I'm buying them with mono audio!
Apple, are you listening at all here?
SUCCESS!! THEY HAVE FOUND THE PROBLEM!!!
I am very happy to report that today I got a phone call from a gentleman at Warner Bros Home Video. He told me that...
1. They're sorry that it was not communicated to me that they had been looking into the issue.
2. The letter I had sent to Peter Jackson was forwarded by his people to Warner Bros.
3. There had been some previous misunderstanding about exactly what my complaint was, but now that they've looked at it more closely, they did some tests and discovered that, yes, the files they sent to iTunes were MONO!
4. They will be sending new audio files to iTunes, and iTunes will eventually be communicating to those who have purchased the movies that they can download them again in their correct stereo form. This may take a few weeks.
For those people who have been holding off purchasing "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" extended editions, I'll let you know when the new files are in the iTunes Store.
And there's no longer a reason to write to Thomas Gewecke at Warner Bros, so please don't.
It's taken me seven months to get them to fix this, but it looks like the end is in sight! Yay!
You mean was it worth the seven months of effort? Well, as I said in my letter to Peter Jackson, I will probably never watch the digital movies anyway. Like you, I have the Blu-rays, so why would I settle for crappy digital files on a small screen? It might be handy to be able to refer to them on a portable device, but the thought of listening to them in glorious mono sound is abhorrent to me!
It was the principle of it. They're supposed to provide consumers with a product of a certain quality, and they were not. And when I brought it to the attention of iTunes and Warner Bros, they just passed the buck back and forth and stopped communicating with me. Their "Customer Service" was not serving the customer at all. There are people out there who WILL be watching those digital files, and they deserve at least a stereo soundtrack.
Hopefully next time someone brings a problem to their attention, that customer will be listened to, instead of being swatted away like an annoying fly.
So yes, it was worth it.