Any secret way to reach Customer Service I don't know about?

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Code Monkey

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Friday afternoon I get home from the store and the "Please sign..." popup is there on iTunes. It doesn't say what it's for and it's not like this is the first time I've seen weird requests for my password. I enter my password and, frrrkk!, an album my dog - who gets up on my desk to look for stuff to eat - evidently clicked on accidentally while I out was starts downloading.

I make two reports, one from within iTunes, one from the web based support site.

The in-iTunes one gets me a quick refund and I've got my $10 back Saturday night. All is resolved and good I think...

Everything is good and works fine until this morning when I get a message that my Apple ID is disabled when I went to buy something.

I can log in on my computer or my devices, I can change my payment type (done it), change my password (done it), change my Ping profile (done it), etc., but I can't so much as update a 2 MB free app on anything because some idjit there saw fit today to disable any "purchase" on my account in response to something that was resolved nearly 2 days ago.

I've sent the web form email report as well as replied to the one where they gave me my refund. I tried to call their main CS number but that was a no-go. They have no explicit iTunes category and demand a product serial # for something still under the phone support period to even get to a live person. Is there any trick to reaching a human being or do I just have to go through the sometimes insanely slow and painful process of sending emails until someone with a functioning brain re-activates my ID.

Love losing access to hundreds of dollars worth of goods because I dared to ask for a refund on a $10 item accidentally purchased :mad:

The kicker is that after they'd disabled my account for alleged fraudulent purchases they still went ahead and posted charges to my bank account today for purchases I made more than 24 hours after making my refund request, the request some idjit decided meant my account had been compromised even though I explained the scenario /me bang head on desk...
 

S2_Mac

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Wow, I can't believe I was able to find this post...iLounge Search never works well for me <rueful grin>

Check my response to this thread. Note that the phone number posted there is not a transposition of the more-common number we see plastered all over. (And...not being a smartass here, but also note the comments by a fellow named CodeMonkey in that thread -- he had good advice about staying calm and limiting expectations.)

Now here, I am being a smartass -- if all else fails, maybe you could phone an Apple lawyer; here's their info ;-)
 

Code Monkey

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Wow, I can't believe I was able to find this post...iLounge Search never works well for me <rueful grin>
Not sure what your search criteria were, but I hope you feel better knowing that possibly the *single* post on iLounge including the alternate phone number was posted by you among the <exceeds the search return limit for iLounge> posts for Apple Customer Service Phone Number, which greatly increased the chances of you finding it by some magnitudinal factor. I spent the better part of yesterday looking for information on my problem before making this post and, other than finding out that disabling accounts after the fact when a refund request was made and resolved is a common behavior from Apple, I wasn't any farther along than I was until you posted that number that I'll try later this morning.

And...not being a ######## here, but also note the comments by a fellow named CodeMonkey in that thread -- he had good advice about staying calm and limiting expectations.
Well, my expectation is that when you have purchased products with a company going back two decades that said company wouldn't de facto "hack" my account for no valid reason and then not even so much as send me the auto-responder email to my reports of this situation. Nor that the company would evidently routinely engage in these account disablings in a manner that looks suspiciously like a punitive measure for people requesting refunds from the iTunes store.

I'm as calm as person can reasonably be when what they thought was a simple request for a $10 refund on an accidentally purchased album playlist that was never delivered results in Apple effectively (even if temporarily) stealing hundreds of dollars in content dating back several years for no actual reason. Had I know this was going to happen I just would have eaten the $10, which is why I suspect Apple's behavior isn't entirely on the level. It's a little message from them to me: Just because we coded iTunes to ask for your password without explaining what it's needed for, just because we have no way to cancel a sale even before it's delivered, heck, just because we didn't even see fit to code the ability to cancel a sale period even if we do refund your money, and just because we have no way to initiate a refund other than email and crossing your fingers, don't you go thinking you should be asking for your money back even if it truly was an accident...

I posted hoping I could find a phone number, which you may have produced, thank you for that much, that will let me address this with a human directly and get it resolved. You may return to your normally polite manner having found a chink in my armor to dig at ;)
 

Code Monkey

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FYI, that number's no good either. Using your tip about asking for an "iTunes Advisor" did let me get through to a CS rep since it tossed me to a menu option where I could select "other" but she might as well have been one of the godawful voice menu bots because there was absolutely nothing they would do to help and in spite of me informing them repeatedly I'd already sent multiple reports through their web form and not even received so much as the auto-response reply after nearly 24 hours, their only "help" was to promise to send me the link to the web form that they knew I'd already filled out...


Much like my last dealings with their CS, I'm convinced it's run and staffed by flying monkeys.
 

S2_Mac

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Well that sucks. I was given that tip by a brick'n'mortar Apple Store employee. Passed it on to a friend whose account had been hijacked; she said (weeks later when I saw her again) that she got good results from the call. Flying monkeys with clipped wings must be the new paradigm.

Geez, what is Apple doing with their $50 billion in cash? Lion OS delivers only through download (no physical media), no more Rosetta PPC emulator, OSX Server boxes killed off, draconian treatment of pro video editors with release of FCPX, longstanding probs for print pros throughout the whole life of Snow Leopard OS....do they just keep all the cash in a giant room for treasure baths?

I'd say "Good luck getting things straightened out" but that seems overly optimistic. Rather, "Hope they don't find new ways to abuse you" seems more apropos.
 

Code Monkey

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Geez, what is Apple doing with their $50 billion in cash? ....do they just keep all the cash in a giant room for treasure baths?
That's where I am at with this problem. They have NO dedicated category, phone #, email, etc., for dealing with a disabled ID for any reason, and to add insult to insult, I think they blacklisted my email in their own system since I've received no emails from them since this all started even though I did receive notice from PayPal that they'd posted a charge from Saturday.

Even Facebook, as awful as they can be to deal with, has dedicated email appeals for deactivated accounts.

You get to toss what is, essentially, the theft of thousands of products into the generic "I have another question" web form category and cross your fingers.

If you're going to be doing the volume of sales they are, you need a better system in place for dealing with problems than see if a Flying Monkey will decide to help you out if you promise them a peanut nicely.

If nothing has happened by this afternoon, I'll test my one idea and put yet another request in through their web form but use a different contact email. If none of that yields any fruit by tonight, I guess it's the Hail Mary of the sjobs@apple.com politely worded email.
 

rockmyplimsoul

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If none of that yields any fruit by tonight, I guess it's the Hail Mary of the sjobs@apple.com politely worded email.
Yeah I can see how that e-mail exchange will go ...


[CM] My dog accidentally bought an album on iTunes, but not only was the refund I was promised rescinded by Apple, my account has been disabled such that I can’t update an app that I’ve already purchased, purchase any new material, nor play many prior purchases. Can you please help?

[SJ] What album did your dog pick?

[CM] \facepalm
 

Code Monkey

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[CM] My dog accidentally bought an album on iTunes, but not only was the refund I was promised rescinded by Apple, my account has been disabled such that I can’t update an app that I’ve already purchased, purchase any new material, nor play many prior purchases. Can you please help?

[SJ] What album did your dog pick?

[CM] \facepalm
Minor correction, I did get my $10 back, and then I lost over $436 in iTunes purchases dating back to June 2004 representing access to 330 songs and 429 apps as a result that.

For what it's worth, the album was Cinema Verite by Dramarama.

Pretty sure the exchange was not a fair one ;)

And still not so much as a auto-response...

Guess we'll see what Jobs thinks of my dog's musical taste :rolleyes:
 

Code Monkey

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Darn, I don't get to email Jobs, finally got a "human" to respond, although I'm not getting my hopes up any time soon since even after explaining there never was a breach and had they bothered to pay attention they would have seen that, they're still following the script of asking for a bunch of personal info, last purchases, etc. even though 100% of that info is available to anyone who actually gained access to that account so it wouldn't matter anyhow.

Then there's this quote to send shivers down your spine: "I will use the information you provide to investigate the possibility of enabling your account."


POSSIBILITY? In what universe is designing your store such that the ONLY solution you have to an a non-deliberate charge appearing on a customers account to permanently revoke that customer's access to everything they've paid for on it?

You put a temporary hold, sort out if there's been a breach, make a phone call or whatever to satisfy proper identification, and you DO reinstate it. Their cure is far worse than the problem.
 

S2_Mac

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...finally got a "human" to respond...

Hope you verified that with a Voight-Kampff test... ;-)

Then there's this quote to send shivers down your spine: "I will use the information you provide to investigate the possibility of enabling your account."

So apparently Apple is now making the presumption that your Store account's email addy has been hijacked by a ne'er-do-well. All this drama triggered by a refund request; wow...paranoid much? Guess Pete Steiner had it right: on the internet, no one knows you're a dog.
 

decafjava

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Really sorry for your troubles Code Monkey. I hope you get the problems sorted. I really wonder what the value of web/email based support is-especially for large coporations. I had some issues when I ordered spare eartips for my etymotic earphones from a small electronic shop but which were sorted with a phone call to a human.

Not to make light but my curiosity is piqued will have to check out Dramarama and judge your dog's musical taste.
 

Code Monkey

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Hope you verified that with a Voight-Kampff test... ;-)
Hence the quotes. I'm pretty sure my first few correspondences regarding a store glitch some months back were with a bot because I can't believe a human is that obtuse and dense. This guy seemed real enough, even gave me his work schedule, but he was also clearly working from a script and flow chart.


Then there's this quote to send shivers down your spine: "I will use the information you provide to investigate the possibility of enabling your account."

So apparently Apple is now making the presumption that your Store account's email addy has been hijacked by a ne'er-do-well. All this drama triggered by a refund request; wow...paranoid much?
That's the worst part about this. The terms of their emails didn't even go into the "perhaps we overreacted" category, it was purely "please recount a bunch of information any genuine hacker would have access to" nonsense. I've still never heard a response to my first reply (go figure) so in frustration I sent them a scan of my driver's license, screen shot of .ipa files that have been on my computer since last September and registered to my Apple ID, a spread sheet of app store purchases I last edited back in April, my blood type (actually gave them the wrong one, see how much they really know about me ;)), the type of clothing I tend to wear, name of my first dog, etc.. Hopefully the rep understands sarcasm.

Unfortunately, the lessons are clear:

1. If an accidental purchase is made, ONLY use the in-iTunes method to report it since there is the explicit "I accidentally bought this" report category. They clearly don't pay attention to details and work from a script based on the category. Under no circumstances should you use the web form to report an accidental purchase since there is no such clear category and your report may be interpreted as an account breach.

2. Apple has no acceptable procedure's in place to deal with anything that might resemble an account breach, so even if you are truly hacked, unless the amount stolen is much greater than the value of the products on your account, don't report it to Apple. Lock down the account yourself by changing the password and, if necessary, the email used as the ID, switch the payment method to something limited like a gift card, and monitor it to see if you were successful, but unless you are prepared to risk losing everything permanently, don't waste your time.
 

Code Monkey

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Not to make light but my curiosity is piqued will have to check out Dramarama and judge your dog's musical taste.
Not really anything to do but try and make light at this point. Apple has my stuff, so I either give myself an ulcer or at least amuse myself with the sense of being trapped in a sequel to Gilliam's Brazil or a 19th century Russian novel. At any rate, I don't think you can attribute too much to the dog's taste :)

Thinking back, the last thing I had been doing before leaving the house was browsing Apple's latest "Genius" recommendations for me and I'm pretty sure that album was one of the things they recommended (Genius my butt). She's a chihuahua so she gets up ON my desk when no one is around, one little paw click to the mouse which just happened to be in the right place and she looks like the musical maven of the canine world.
 

Code Monkey

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Addendum: the great Apple gods have granted this pygmy rains. 69 hours after a Mr. Lalchand took it upon himself to disable my account even though the case had been closed for over 9 hours by another nameless Apple rep, Mr. Lalchand after spending 48 hours verifying that I had adequately secured the breach that never happened and proved I hadn't lost control of my identity that had never been alleged, deigned to re-enable the account without ever once apologizing for overreacting. Taking an unusually long time, yes, apologized for that, but the fact it was his own idiocy that caused all this problem in the first place? Not a peep.

Don't mess with Apple kids ;)
 

S2_Mac

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Woo-hoo! Very very glad you were able to regain access to your own stuff! (and what a silly thing to have to say)

Not knocking anyone's choices of using the Store, but this is why I don't use it for music. I mainly buy CDs, and 80% of those come from Amazon. On the few occasions I've purchased downloads -- 60 albums or so over the years -- it's always been Amazon. Only had problems a few times, but all it takes is a click on the "Hey, could you guys give me a call?" button and a minute or two later (never more than 5) a CSR is ringing my phone; we sort things out; problems solved. And no messy DRM -- no one from Amazon is ever going to pull the plug on my Cracow Klezmer Band or Boards of Canada albums ;-)

(Maybe it's just because I buy a 100+ CDs each year, but whenever it's been Amazon's error they've always thrown in a free track or two as a lagniappe. Zero complaints with Amazon. And, owing to my strong "Ooh, shiny!" reflex, it's actually kinda fun to have a problem -- click the "Call Me" button, watch for the browser window to update with the message "Call is being placed to your phone..." and then the phone rings; makes me giggle every time ;-)
 

Code Monkey

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Very very glad you were able to regain access to your own stuff! (and what a silly thing to have to say)
Sadly, that is the root problem of DRM, and although I give Apple a lot of props for the way their app store operates compared to many similar services, it was still a nutbreaker to experience firsthand that these hundreds of apps I've amassed on my account and paid hundreds of dollars for could be effectively taken from me with just a check of a box on an Apple employee's terminal somewhere and there was nothing I could do other than wending my way through their opaque, obtuse system hoping that it would turn out all right in the end.

In the vein of what your further comment, it does give me even more pause about music. I have stuck to CDs by and large over all this time as well, but I actually found myself buying my first full album from iTunes a few weeks ago because they'd announced the whole iCloud service. It was an LP format with two exclusive tracks and some videos for about $1 cheaper than the CD so I figured, why not? The fact I can always download it again in the future along with the other perks was enough to get me to break my usual stance on not buying anything but iTunes exclusives. Don't know that I would count that as so much of a bonus in the future after this experience.
 

Code Monkey

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Heh, one thing to amuse me: Apple's servers is treating me like I'm a brand new customer and apparently they've got some tricks I've never heard about.

First time I downloaded an app today to my computer I hear a DING, there's a push message from Apple on my touch informing me that I just downloaded an app to my computer and I could have it automatically come to my touch, and then it took me right to the settings. Same thing happened when I just bought a single.

Big brother is watching indeed.
 

decafjava

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Well unless I want to fill my apartment with CDs (which I still do buy in fact) I more or less have to stick with iTunes for downloading music. Amazon is not available here in Switzerland for DD. Books and physical CDs yes.

I am a bit confused, I thought Apple did away with DRM for music? Isn't that the whole iTunes plus thing that came about in 2009 or so? :confused:
 

S2_Mac

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To me, it's walking like DRM, it's quacking like DRM... My ability to play back a Store track within the iTunes ecosystem requires valid credentials; the outfit that "sells" me the track has the power to revoke the credentials. What could go wrong?
 

Code Monkey

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I am a bit confused, I thought Apple did away with DRM for music? Isn't that the whole iTunes plus thing that came about in 2009 or so? :confused:
They did, but then they introduced the very necessary option of re-downloading your music without limits to new computers, devices, etc. with the whole iCloud program.

In the more than 7 years I've had this Apple ID account, with the exception of two singles I could have theoretically purchased in other ways, I've never paid for music from iTunes unless it was an iTunes exclusive, explicit DRM or not. With iCloud, I actually decided I could live with the lossy only since, if the price was right, the convenience of automatic back up for free and remote access seemed like a decent trade, particularly for one of the LP formatted albums. Additionally, although I have no solid reason to believe so, the "iCloud" thing makes me think we probably won't have to live through another money grab if there's a future change to what is the standard file format since we seem to be moving into a perpetual licensing scenario. HOWEVER, what this experience hammered home is that if you're counting future access from iCloud in the value of your iTunes music, you need to re-evaluate how much it matters because all Apple has to do is click a button on a terminal and you can't get your music any more even though you paid for the service by buying it from iTunes.

It's not the same severity as when they could just stop you from playing the music at all, but they still hold the power to restrict your future access to features you paid for.
 
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