How Apple isn’t doing it for me right now

Update 3, 9/13: So, it's been a month, and still no follow-up. Apple released a new iPhone yesterday. Yeah, I'm an Android fan anyway, but I can't even consider getting another Apple device, since I don't know when I'll be able to use the iTunes store for anything but free apps again. I followed up on the email thread with Apple support, and I told them I was just doing it for laughs, since, as a manager of a service department, I collect these experiences. Which is true. I'd like to know what the worst of the worst is like so that I don't have to deal with it again.

Update 2, 8/16: I just downloaded Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and When You Are Engulfed in Flames from Barnes & Noble's website. It required a new software install and I had to create new playlists on my iPod because the device didn't recognize the books as audiobooks, but it was worth the extra half hour or so.

Update 1, 8/15: I did email and ask for follow-up. The customer service rep's answer was, at it's essence, "We don't have a resolution yet. We'll let you know when we do.

I've been an on-and-off Apple guy most of my life. Right now I'm so very far off, I can only vent here about it; talking to the company isn't doing any good.

Here's the story.

I went to buy an audiobook on the iTunes store on my netbook. It's a device I've owned for a little over two years, and I've never bought anything on the iTunes store with it. But my 7-year-old laptop is dying, and it won't connect to the iTunes store anymore. The iPod Nano I want to listen to the audiobook on can't connect to the store except through a computer, and my iPad doesn't have a way to connect to the Nano, so through the netbook it had to be.

I went to the iTunes store, selected my audiobook, clicked "Buy Now," and, when prompted, entered my iTunes Store/Apple Store user name and password.

And then I was prompted to answer two security questions that (a) I don't remember setting up and (b) don't make any sense long-term. One of them was "What was your worst job?" Now, I've been in the work force for about 20 years, and I've probably had an iTunes store account since it first opened a decade ago or however long it was.


OK, I understand that if I'd both known my username and password (which is typically all you need to know to log into an account) and been able to answer the security questions, we'd be good.

But there has to be a way for me to make a purchase anyway, right? Or at least reset the security questions?

So I emailed support.

I got a message back (at 9:04pm, by the way, from someone whose shift ended at 9pm and was off the next day – way to queue that one up for quick resolution, Apple) that requested the following information to reset my security questions:

If you can't remember the answers to these questions, I can reset the questions for you. For your security, please reply to this email and provide the following information:

At least one of the following:
- The order number of one of your purchases
- The last four digits of the credit card used for your iTunes Store account

And two of the following:
- Your birth date
- The billing address on your account
- The phone number on your account

Now, since app purchases apparently don't count, I didn't have any purchases in my 18-month order history. Instead, I provided the rep with the last four digits of the credit card on my iTunes Store account, my birth date, the address and phone number on the account (so, more information than she really needed).

Let me preface this next bit, in which I get really frustrated, with the fact that I know Apple's had a very recent high-profile security problem.

Here comes the quote from the email. Ready?

Thank you so much for replying with the requested information.

Josh, although I was able to verify the information that you have provided, I apologize because I am not able to reset the security questions at this time. Apple is currently working toward a resolution for the issue you have reported. You will receive an email after the matter has been investigated and further information is available.

Seriously? I answered the questions you asked correctly, you were able to verify that, but you're not able to reset the security questions with no explanation, no next steps and no timeline for resolution? That's a joke, right?

My response was civil, but pointed. I'd logged on for an impulse purchase. Without a quick resolution, I wouldn't make that purchase anyway (even if we'd resolved it with that next email, they would have lost the purchase). But now I'm unlikely to use the iTunes store if I can find a competitor with even a near-equivalent price for the same product. And if I can't find such a competitor, is anything I might buy from the iTunes store in the future really a necessity?

Probably not.

And if I wind up not wanting to use the iTunes store in the future, am I likely to want to use Apple devices in the future?

Probably not.

That's just lousy customer service through and through.


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