doesn’t know where Montana is.

In 2004, Ben Folds, Ben Lee and Ben Kweller toured together in Australia. After the tour, they went into the studio and recorded a four-song EP, called “The Bens”. The album includes the single “Bruised”, included on Ben Folds’ 2006 supersunnyspeedgraphic EP–which is a fantastic song.

So, discovering that there was an EP recorded by three of my favorite Bens, called “The Bens”, I tried to download it. My first recourse was–for better or for worse– Not surprisingly, Mininova came up empty-handed, so I turned to the iTunes store.

I found the album on iTunes with a little effort. Unfortunately, the album is not an “iTunes Plus” (DRM-free and high quality) offering. Rather unwilling to buy music that is > 192kbps and DRM protected, I turned to’s MP3 Store. has a similarly huge selection of music, all in high-quality (240kbps VBR) DRM-free MP3 format. I found “The Bens” and tried to download it–but, like last time I tried to buy something from Amazon, I ran into an error:

We are sorry…

We could not process your order. The sale of MP3 Downloads is currently available only to US customers located in the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

Well, fantastic. Great job, Amazon.

When I visit, IT KNOWS where I’m located (via IP address lookup…). The sides of my search results are always strewn with advertisements: scantily-clad girls, fake names and ages, and a banner that says “FIND HOT GIRLS IN BOZEMAN, MT TONIGHT!

Maybe Amazon just isn’t aware that Montana is in the 48 contiguous states. That could be it. Actually, a quick call to Amazon customer support would tend to support that suspicion:

Him: Thank you for calling Amazon MP3 Store Customer Support. My name is Vijay. How can I help you?

Me: Yeah. I’m trying to buy an album, and having some trouble. When I click “Buy Album With 1-Click”, I get this error that tells me that my order can’t be processed because I’m not located in the 48 contiguous states.

Him: Sir, where are you located?

Me: Bozeman, MT.

Him: I’m sorry to inform you that the sale of MP3 downloads is currently available only to US customers located in the 48 contiguous states, Alaska…

Me: Yeah. I know.

Him: Sir, the sale of MP3s is not available in your area.

Me: I’m IN the 48 contiguous states! I’m in MONTANA! You know, north of WYOMING, east of NORTH DAKOTA…

Him: Oh. I’m sorry, sir. I was not aware that Montana was in the United States.

Needless to say, he wasn’t able to help.

I don’t blame him for not knowing where Montana is–it’s not like I could name more than five of India’s 20+ states–but I DO blame for doing a pretty pathetic job of training their outsourced customer support. I mean, give them a map or something. Putting a *check if location is in United States* instruction between Ask location. and Inform customer that sale of MP3s is not available in his/her area.


So much for trying to buy my music. I guess I’ll just wait. Maybe someday will come back, and all of my prayers will be answered.

About Mark Egge

Two truths and a lie: Mark Egge is an outdoor enthusiast, opera singer, and a transportation data scientist. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
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