UPDATE 10:45 am Feb 20: I had a fruitful (no pun intended – honest!) email exchange with Taylor at Apple’s Express Lane service, and it looks like my issue is now solved. See below.
Devices I own that are affected:
- MacBook Air
- iPhone 4S
- iPod Touch
- iPod Nano
On Friday Feb 17 I opened iTunes, went into my account and changed three things: my AppleID, my password, and my payment information. I wanted to change my existing AppleID for security reasons I won’t go into here.
That done, my account now shows the new email as my primary AppleID with the old ID as an associated email on my account.
Then I went to change the settings in my iPhone 4S, iPad2, iPod Touch, and AppleTV, starting with my iPhone. I could not simply double-click on my AppleID and enter the new one in my iPhone. Mystified, I made an appointment with the Genius Bar at the Apples Store at Oakridge in Vancouver.
When I arrived, an Apple employee, a young woman, asked if she could help while I was waiting for my appointment. She explained that I would have to delete the account on my iPhone, then enter the new information. I did so. But she also said I would have no access to the apps, music etc. I bought with my previous AppleID.
I was horrified. That’s not what I wanted to do!
Sure enough, my Phone, iPod Touch, iPad, and as it turned out when I got home, AppleTV, all want access to my “old” AppleID in order to update the apps or access my account. She suggested I sign in with my “old” AppleID and forget the new one because, she said, I had now made two separate AppleIDs. This seemed wrong to me, because the “old” AppleID had showed up as an alternate email address under my account, but I tried anyway to sign in with my “old” AppleID.
Neither the new password nor the old password would work. So I went to appleid.apple.com and sent in a request for an email password reset. I never received an email to any email account I have associated with iTunes. I checked all spam filters too.
Then (still in the Apple Store, largely on my own as flaky employee went off to help other customers) I tried to reset the password using the challenge questions. The first question was my birthday. Apparently, that is my wrong birthday, because I failed to answer the question correctly. “Maybe you entered your birthday wrong originally” said the Apple Store employee as she flittered by. That was unhelpful. So, too was her suggestion to go home and phone Apple Care rather than follow through with my Genius Bar appointment.
She gave me the number, and I phoned Saturday evening. After going through a whole menu of options “to get me to the right place” the automated voice told me Apple was closed and please call back during business hours. No mention of what those business hours might be. Say what?
In the meantime I did send a frustrated and – now that I read it – incoherent message through “Express Lane” to iTunes Store Support. It didn’t help that I was forced to describe my problem in 140 characters.
When I did get through to the Apple Care support number on Sunday, the technician told me I needed to pay up before he could help me. By now suspicious that he could actually solve my problem, I said I would gladly pay if he could gaurantee to resolve my AppleID issues. “Oh no,” he said. “I only deal with the iPhone itself, you’ll have to go to a Genius Bar, or send a message through Express Lane.” By that time I hadn’t even got a confirmation email from “Express Lane.”
“Well, can’t I talk to someone at iTunes who can solve my problem?” I asked. By this time I was so frustrated and flustered I was on the verge of tears.
“No, if you want to talk to someone you have to go to the Genius Bar,” he said. So, I made another appointment at the Genius Bar, this time at Pacific Centre Mall in Vancouver.
When I got to the Genius Bar at Pacific Centre, I opened up all my devices and explained from the beginning. Alvaro, the technician, patiently explained to me that although he could help with hardware issues, he couldn’t help with my iTunes account. For that I would have to wait for a return email from iTunes “Express Lane.” He couldn’t solve my problem, but at least he knew who I needed to go to and didn’t send me on another fool’s errand.
So it’s the third day, and my issue is no closer to being resolved, except I finally did get a confirmation email from Apple that there is a ticket open and someone will get back to me “within 24 hours.”
If they didn’t have my data (that I bought and paid for) held hostage I would be tempted to take my business elsewhere. But what “elsewhere” is there? It’s 1984 again, and this time Apple has become Big Brother. That damn Super Bowl ad is just nostalgia now.
My questions, should I EVER get to talk to someone at Apple, are these:
- Why is it so easy within iTunes to change your AppleID without having the consequences explained before you go ahead and screw up your account?
- If iCloud/iTunes is such an important business for Apple, why is support only done via a 140-character “Express Lane” message with a 24-48 hour lag time? Apple’s hardware support is stellar, but iCloud/iTunes support is almost non-existent it seems.
- Why can’t I talk real-time with someone at Apple about my problems with my iTunes/iCloud account?
- Why did two different Apple employees send me in the wrong direction for help?
- Why didn’t my password reset email ever come? Why was my challenge question a failure?
- Why, if my iTunes account isn’t working with the new AppleID on my devices, was my “new” iTunes on my Mac able to download overnight the newest episode of a TV series I bought with the “old” iTunes ID?
Clock’s ticking, Apple.
As mentioned, when Apple did email me back this morning I basically sent them this blog post with my personal details. Besides very carefully and politely explaining how to get access to my apps and music, Taylor attempted to answer my questions as follows:
-You had asked why it was so easy to change your Apple ID without being told of the consequences?
The simple answer is that there are not supposed to be any issues (although I don’t think thats a good answer in your case). When you change your Apple ID it is not supposed to have any effect on your content or the content on your devices. You should not have had all of the data stripped from your device at the Apple Store* (especially without being informed of this first). Additionally, all that you normally would have to do is just sign into the new account on your devices.
I know that there is no way you could have foreseen any of these problems, but if you ever want to do some research in the future, a wide variety of helpful tutorials, troubleshooting steps, and support information can be found on the iTunes support website:
Additionally, I prefer to post questions and read answers provided by other iTunes users. You can participate in iTunes discussions at our Apple Support Communities forums:
– You also asked why iTunes Store support is only through “Express Lane”?
I hear this question all of the time, but honestly the answer is that it’s still the same support. We get a lot of negativity in this aspect due to the need for instant gratification when someone has a problem that is bad enough to write in about. In certain situations like yours though (where there is a lot going on) I really do wish I could just pick up my phone and call you.
We have many teams of people that do nothing but process feedback from customers, so I would highly suggest that you inform them about how much you want to see phone support offered for iTunes. You can use this link here:
– You asked why you could not talk to someone in real time about your issues with iCloud?
You can! There is a completely free and live online chat support group available for iCloud issues. You can actually speak to these guys through live chat via the internet. I have provided you a link to get there:
Once you go to that web page, scroll down until you see the iCloud symbol, and click “Express Lane for iCloud”. After filling out a bunch of information, you will be transferred to their staff. That being said, they only address issues with iCloud. If you have an issue regarding the iTunes Store, it will have to be through an email.
– Why did two different Apple employees send me in the wrong direction for help?
This was just an error caused by the people in question. We try to offer the best customer service possible, but our workers do make mistakes. I would highly recommend that you contact the Apple Store in question, and explain your situation. If anything, you can prevent the same mistakes from happening again. If someone has an issue with their iTunes account, they should contact us before paying someone to hear their issues.
To make up for your terrible customer service experience, I have issued 5 free song credits to your … iTunes Store account. You can use these to buy the individual songs of your choice from the iTunes Store. I know it is not much, but it is just a small gift from iTunes.
When you next sign in with this account, the song credits will appear by your account name (in the upper-right section of the iTunes Store). The next individual song you buy from the iTunes Store will use one of your song credits instead of your primary form of payment (until all credits have been used or have expired). Please note that song credits cannot be used for purchasing songs that are listed as “Album Only.” If you don’t see your credits, please let me know.
– Why didn’t my password reset email never come? Why was my challenge question a failure?
Honestly we do have issues with this robotic system. Anything such as punctuation or grammar can prevent a password from being reset. If you want to update your security question, click “Return to My Apple ID” after resetting your password. Then click Manage Your Account, sign in, and choose the “ID and Password” tab. Be sure to enter a security question to which only you would know the answer.
* I should note that my iPhone was not stripped at the apple store, it’s just that I couldn’t access any updates on any of my devices and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to access any of my media.
I did follow up with iTunes feedback and I will be following up with the Apple stores here in Vancouver. Alvaro at Pacific Centre was very interested to hear how the issue was resolved, and I want to thank him for his excellent customer service. The person at Oakridge wasn’t much interested in follow up, but I will be giving feedback on her performance nonetheless (I have her card). I’m not sure how to give feedback to the people at AppleCare whose employee steered me wrong, but I’ll find out.
All in all, my issue was resolved, and in the end I had the customer service from Taylor that I’ve come to expect from Apple. The fact that it took three days and two out of four staff I encountered were unhelpful is not a good sign though.