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Glitch locks out some Rhapsody users

An unknown number of users of RealNetwork's Rhapsody music service have been prevented from logging on for about two weeks and were waiting Thursday afternoon for the company to come through with a promised fix.

Some of the users began complaining about the glitch earlier this month on Real's customer service message board. The users would be logged on at Rhapsody and suddenly find themselves booted off. When they tried signing back in, they discovered the system wouldn't let them.

Attempts to reset their passwords, or reinstall the latest Rhapsody software or even downgrade to earlier software versions failed.

William Brockett paid $14.99 for the "Rhapsody To Go" service two months ago and says he's been unable to log on for about three weeks. He said he has patiently endured the company's support staff members who continually told him they were aware of the problem but couldn't help him fix it.

"I haven't switched services because Rhapsody has way more titles than the other services," said Brockett, 27, from Charlotte, N.C. "Rhapsody is a great service when it works."

Rhonda Scott, spokeswoman for RealNetworks, said that the problem was flagged on March 16 but that it affected so few customers ("far less than 1 percent") that it took a while to recognize the problem.

"In any event, this is going to be fixed sometime today," Scott said. "It's not a client-side problem. It's a service-side update that we're going to make."

That means anyone tempted to try fixing the problem by uploading different versions of Rhapsody shouldn't bother, Scott said.

Rhapsody is a competitor to Apple's iTunes, Napster and Yahoo Music.