On Your Side: Winamp Registration Key Headache

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I purchased the Winamp Pro media player, but I repeatedly get an ‘invalid registration key' message when I attempt to install it. I have tried copying the key from the original confirmation e-mail, removing hyphens from it, and reentering it manually myself, but nothing seems to work. Every time I e-mail Winamp's customer support, I receive a mail delivery failure message. The free version of Winamp runs fine on my computer, so I know that everything is up to spec. Please help!

Tomas Peceny, Czech Republic

OYS responds:

We e-mailed Winamp's customer support, using the form on its FAQ page, but like Peceny, we received delivery failure messages. Fortunately, Winamp's active user forum had a recent thread about invalid registration keys.

After many customers had posted complaints about not being able to reach customer service, a moderator finally provided a functional e-mail address: winamppro-support@listserv.sup.aol.com. As long as you provide proof of your purchase, such as a credit card bill or the confirmation e-mail, Winamp will issue a new registration key. Peceny was able to get a working registration key promptly.

Vendors, we have found, are more likely to update information in forums than in their FAQs. Also, you'll have better luck getting a response on a forum, whether from a moderator or a fellow customer, than by sending a generic customer service form (especially a broken one). Before posting a question, though, search for existing threads on your issue-otherwise, you'll probably be ignored (or flamed).

Missing in Action

Hong Tran of San Diego purchased an American Telecom phone system with a $50 rebate from Fry's Electronics. After a few weeks, he called American Telecom's customer service to check on the rebate's status and was told that it was being processed. The rep also said to call back if the rebate didn't arrive in four to six weeks. But when the time passed and Tran tried again, the rep hung up on him.

Others have had problems with American Telecom. Consumer message boards such as ComplaintsBoard.com are flooded with horror stories about the company, and the Better Business Bureau has given it an "F" rating. Despite numerous attempts, we couldn't reach anyone from American Telecom. Its former consultants, Hayden Communications, said they ended their relationship with the company because they had never been paid.

OYS tip:

Alert the retailer where you bought the product of rebate difficulties. Fry's, for example, will conduct inquiries and in some cases pay the rebate if you show proof of purchase, such as photocopies of receipts or a UPC bar code. (Fry's is investigating Tran's case.)

TV Stand Recall

Studio RTA has recalled four of its TV stand models because sets could tip over. The recall, announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, affects the E Series model 60331, the Fierro model 402875 (sold at Best Buy), the Madison DLP model 60176, and the Madison 3000 model 60090. While no injuries have been reported, owners of the affected stands should immediately remove their TVs and contact Studio RTA at its site or call the company toll-free at 888/309-0299 to receive a free repair kit.

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