More Complaints About The ESPN Radio iPhone App "Money Grab"S

Yesterday, we introduced you to ESPN Radio's wildly unpopular new iPhone app. People who had already paid $2.99 for the app over the last two-and-a-half years are being asked to pay an extra $4.99 for a "new app"/crypto-update in order to keep listening to the feeds they already subscribe to.

The app has 1,600 reviews in the iTunes store—"total Rip-Off," "Horrible user experience," "Don't upgrade"—and the lowest possible customer rating: one star.

Since our post went up, we've heard from other cranky ESPN Radio customers. A few more things learned: There definitely will be no refunds; if you seem really upset, you'll get an offer of a six-month sub to ESPN Insider or maybe 20 percent off at the ESPN Shop; and Apple asks that you direct your complaints to ESPN, which asks that you direct your complaints to Apple.

J.N. Gallagher writes:

The ESPN spokesperson is lying about the "important point to make clear."

If it's a completely new app, then why did the Apple app store automatically upgrade my old app to the new one? When Barnes and Noble created a new Nook app, the company sent out an email to inform users they needed to download the new app from the store, as an upgrade wouldn't give you the new app.

I didn't expect my $2.99 to last forever, but there's no way I'm paying an additional $4.99 so soon after making my original purchase. I've already paid once to listen to their advertising-supported content, which is available for free on my PC and laptop.

When I complained to ESPN, I received a reply from someone I mistakenly assumed was a real person, as I've seen the exact reply I received elsewhere on the Internet. When I argued the points raised by the representative, I received a second reply offering me a free, six-month subscription to ESPN Insider. I have no interest in ESPN Insider, and I have no interest in figuring out whether I can use that to listen to ESPN radio on the app. I'm not interested in jumping through hoops for ESPN.

I don't subscribe to the view that the customer is always right, and maybe this will pay off for ESPN in the long run when all of the old customers have stopped complaining and gone away. I can tell you that I rarely complain to businesses, and I've never felt the need to write to Deadspin until now.

Jon Anthony Arena:

When I found out I couldn't use the app anymore without paying, I contacted Apple and asked for a refund. They said I should contact ESPN customer service, and they gave me a link to their web form. I filled out the ESPN web form, asking for a refund, and ESPN responded with:

Hello,

Thank you for contacting us.

We appreciate your feedback and understand your concern. If you have experienced issues with the ESPN Radio application on the iPhone and would like to report a problem or request a refund, please use the process below to ensure the fastest resolution.

1. Go to the iTunes store at: http://www.apple.com/support/itunes/

2. In the upper right hand corner click on your username and log in.

3. Once you are viewing your account info page, click on "Purchase History" from the footer of the page.

4. On the purchase history page, click on the "Report a Problem" button at the bottom.

5. The recent purchase list will load. Click the "report a problem" link/button that appears next to the Fantasy Baseball 2012 application. Enter information on the following pages and submit your request.

So I wrote them back and told them that Apple referred me to their web form, and I'd like a refund. To which they responded:

Hello,

We thank you for your continued feedback and concerns.

Unfortunately, we are unable to issue refunds for the ESPN Radio application.

ESPN does value our fans and we want to offer you a FREE, no obligation, 6-month subscription to ESPN Insider ($20 value) for you or a friend to enjoy. We'll need to e-mail the activation code to you, or anyone of your choosing, so please confirm where to send it and allow up to three days for the code to arrive. Once you receive the code, it can be redeemed anytime before 9/1/2012.

For live assistance with this or any other issue, please call Customer Care at 1-888-549-3776 (ESPN) between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. EST.

Did you see that? A $20 value!!!!!!!

So, yeah. I guess you could say I really came out ahead in this money grab.

No interest in ESPN Insider? Perhaps you'd like a 20 percent discount from the ESPN Shop?

From: ESPN Customer Care
Date: May 22, 2012 7:06:40 PM EDT

To: Louis Padavano
Subject: Re: Feedback - Radio iPhone Complaint

Hello,

Thank you for your reply.

As an alternative, we can offer you 20% off an ESPN Shop purchase. We'll need to e-mail the discount code to you, so please confirm where to send it and allow up to three days for the code to arrive.

For live assistance with this or any other issue, please call Customer Care at 1-888-549-3776 (ESPN) between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. EST.
Regards,

Candice

And Joseph D'Agostino:

Just thought I would throw my experience in the ring.

Joseph D'Agostino

8:36 PM (3 minutes ago)

to ESPN
Kari,
Again, I realize you must have a high volume of complaints to deal with as this is such a terrible way to treat your customers, but if you HAD taken the time to read my email you would see that I understand its "more than just an upgrade". But it does the same thing my OLD app did.

You say the $4.99 allows me to listen to the live stream, something I already paid for and currently can do w/o the new app.
You say it can download and allow me to listen to podcasts, both of which I can do for FREE.
You say the My Station feature allows me to search clips and create custom playlists, both of which I have 0 interest in.
You say it can pause and rewind Live Radio streams, something I can already do.

Is this starting to develop any kind of pattern? Basically you want me to pay for services I have already paid for, or for new features that not only do I not want or care about, but which numerous other apps offer for free.

Kari, I hope you have taken the time to read my email as thoroughly as I have read yours. You have offered a ESPN Insider subscription to help ease the pain. I do not accept. I do not want a ESPN Insider subscription. It is like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

I like ESPN radio. I liked the ESPN Radio app. I was happy to pay for a service I enjoyed. But now it feels like I am being punished for trusting a corporation many people describe as "sleazy" and "dishonest".

-Joseph D'Agostino

On Tue, May 29, 2012 at 8:22 PM, ESPN Customer Care wrote:

Hello,

Thank you for contacting us.

We appreciate your feedback and understand your concern. The new ESPN Radio application is more than a simple upgrade to the existing application.

The new ESPN Radio application is free to download and provides the ability to download podcasts and listen off-line. You are able to experience the full ESPN Radio application free until August 1, 2012. After your trial period ends, there is a $4.99 charge to continue listening to LIVE streams and to use the new "My Stations" feature based on your sport preferences. If you choose not to pay $4.99 at the end of your trial, ALL ESPN podcasts and SportsCenter updates will continue to be available for free, but LIVE streams and other premium features will be unavailable starting August 1, 2012.

The full experience of the new ESPN Radio application includes:
• Custom Station or Playlist: search tens of thousands of audio clips by a specific topic and create a station or playlist of your favorite shows, teams, players and sports.
• Listen live: to over 35 ESPN Radio stations from around the country and play-by-play from some of your favorite college and professional sports teams including every game of the NBA Finals, World Series, College Bowl Games, Wimbledon, US Open Golf and more.
• Live Audio Functionality: Pause and rewind up to an hour of live audio.
• myESPN Personalization: Customize audio automatically pulled into the app based on your favorites.
• Top Searches: Popular searches and trends for easy one-click access to top audio.
• Recommendation Engine: Content suggestions based on your myESPN profile
• Alerts and Push Notifications: For MLB broadcasts, breaking news and more.

We think that once you try out all of the expanded features available in the new ESPN Radio application you will discover the value. The previous ESPN Radio app (v3.0) will be discontinued on August 1, 2012.

ESPN values our fans and we want to offer you a FREE, no obligation, 6-month subscription to ESPN Insider ($20 value) for you or a friend to enjoy. We'll need to e-mail the activation code to you, or anyone of your choosing, so please write back to confirm where to send the code and allow up to three days for it to arrive. Once you receive the code, it can be redeemed anytime before 9/1/2012.

For live assistance with this or any other issue, please call Customer Care at 1-888-549-3776 (ESPN) between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. EST.

Regards,

Kari
ESPN.com Customer Care

———————- Original Message ———————-

This is to let you know not only will I leave a 1 star rating, I will also deleting the ESPN App. I just bought the App last year & now I have been told in addition to the $2.99 I paid now you would like another $4.99.

This is unacceptable. You are going to say its a NEW app. The bottom line is it is a NEW app that does the same thing as my OLD app. I should be grandfathered in because I paid for the OLD app when it had less "features" as the NEW one.

I will now listen go to your competitors