Firstly, 99% of Apple’s customer base will never experience what I went through. The question is, how do you know you are in the 99% group.
A few months ago, the balance on my Apple account was running low (less than $100), and therefore, I attempted to add funds to my account using my credit card. My first attempt resulted in an error, and I decided to try again in a couple of days. The very next day, all my Apple devices gave the following prompt when updating apps from the App Store: “Your Account Has Been Disabled in the App Store and iTunes.”
I called Apple Support and was advised that my account has been permanently disabled, and there is no recourse. Apple alleges that I breached the Apple Media Services Terms and Conditions. Despite asking what exactly I did for Apple to terminate my over 10-year relationship with Apple, the answer provided was, please read the Apple Media Services Terms and Conditions. I then asked what does Apple recommend I do. Apple Support representative said: “Create a new account and start from fresh”. This means I have lost all my app and media purchases and the funds in my Apple account. Imagine how this feels. It is upsetting. Perhaps, I am too attached to my Apple account.
The next day, I called again and was provided with the same response. However, this time, I was told that the Back End Team had made the decision, and there is no way to appeal that decision or even contact them. Furthermore, the senior Apple support person confirmed that they do not have access to the details as to why the account was disabled. This Back End Team appears to have God-like powers.
The first thought that comes to my mind when reading something like this is, I assume, the user must have done something shady. I tend NOT to blame Apple because why would they take such a drastic step.
The fact is Apple is a gigantic organisation, and Apple can and does make mistakes. Recall the many instances where Developers have been locked out of their accounts for inconsistent reasons. Even consumers have been locked out, andif you are famous, Apple unlocks your account, and you are back in business. I am neither famous nor influential in any way. I am a mere civilian where we are accustomed to accepting decisions put on us and adjusting accordingly.
Readers of this blog may also think this cannot be the complete story. Of course, it is not because Apple has not told me what exactly I did. I can only tell you what I know, and intentionally I have not done anything that will result in a breach.
Sometimes in life, even though it's not your fault, it most certainly is your problem. This is one of those times.
So what do next?
The only option is to create a new account and move on. Start fresh with Apple. However, It is not my nature to move on without a fight.
At this point, it occurred to me that it was time to reach out to my contacts at Apple and call in any favours. A realisation quickly set in that, of course, I don’t have any contacts at Apple, I am just an average consumer....a mere civilian...how will I have any personal or professional associations with anyone at Apple.
So what to do? I emailed the one person I knew who worked at Apple, and I had his email address...Mr Tim Cook. And I waited, and waited…if patience is a virtue, my god, it indeed was tested in this entire saga. I clearly stated in the email that I honestly believe I have done nothing wrong.
(If you think this story has a happy ending, you are not alone. I also thought; eventually logic and common sense will prevail.)
Three days went by, and I took delivery of a brand new MacBook Pro that I preordered before Apple disabled my account.
After five years, I bought a Mac, but the sour taste of betrayal from Apple made it extremely difficult for me to get excited about my new workhorse… I digress...This blog post is not about my 16inch MacBook Pro.
Tim Cook’s executive team to the rescue
Towards the end of the week, a kind soul from Tim Cook’s executive team reached out to me and indicated that he would look into my case. A feeling of hope and joy quickly overcame me. He worked behind the scenes with the relevant teams, and within two weeks, my account was enabled and was working. My purchases, subscriptions and funds in the Apple account were untouched.
After everything was resolved, I asked again - What did I do for Apple to take such a drastic step?
The response provided wasn’t helpful and was vague, to the extent that I still do not know why this happened.
This is an unorthodox way to resolve an issue, and there is almost no guarantee that this will work for everyone. However, I am glad that this nightmare is over in this instance. I have had a nasty feeling of loss since the very first day of this saga. Thankfully, that is gone.
At this point, a quote from William Blackston comes to mind:
It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.
My only advice to Apple is to take the initiative to discuss with the customer before disabling their account to understand what exactly happened. In most cases, we are trying to do the right thing. Allow the customers to appeal and put their case forward. Even our justice system allows for an alleged criminal to fight their case.
Please, Apple, let me tell my side of the story and tell me your story. Make an informed decision rather than a one-sided one.
99% of Apple’s customer base will never experience what I went through. The question is, how do you know you are in the 99% group.