Last week, I decided to go ahead and upgrade the OS on my iMac to “Mountain Lion,” primarily because I was contemplating using the iMac for some video editing, and Final Cut Pro recommended that I upgrade before installing that. So, I went looking for the upgrade.
Turns out that in order to purchase the OSX upgrade, you have to have an “Apple ID” and an iTunes account. Not being an Apple Fanboi, I didn’t particularly want either, but since I did want to get the upgrade, I went ahead with the sign-up process.
I was unable to get an “Apple ID.” The error message was not at all clear, but it appeared to say that my email address was invalid. So I tried another. No joy.
So I fired off a support request, and got back a reply that the first email address I tried was already in their database. No mention of why the other two wouldn’t work. But I did go back and try to sign in to what appeared to be an iTunes account that I must have set up back when I bought the iMac at the CompUSA liquidation sale. After entering the password that I used for nearly everything back then (dumb, I know — I use LastPass now), I was able to sign in to iTunes.
Then began the process of trying to figure out how to buy the one item I wanted. Naturally, I had to go through several screens of stuff that did not interest me in the slightest, but I finally found a link that said “OSX.” I clicked on that, and it took me to a page where I could buy a brand-new iMac. By this time, I was getting a bit frustrated, but since I write software for a living, and I tend to be pretty persistent, I did a Bing search for “OSX Mountain Lion” and sure enough, I found the upgrade page. I bought it, and installed it (which took a bit longer than I expected). Since there was personal identifying information on the account, along with a fresh, valid credit card entry, I looked for a way to delete the account.
There doesn’t seem to be any. So, I changed the password (using my LastPass to generate a really long, random one).
I was still fuming a bit when I got a support reply asking me for some feedback. I fired off the following feedback:
I did finally manage to get my OSX upgrade, after jumping through several hoops. After trying to follow the links for OSX and ending up on a page to order a complete new iMac (after following the trail outlined in the instructions for “how to upgrade to Mountain Lion,” I finally found the right page through a web search, which appears to be the only way to find it.
I found the process extremely irritating.
- I don’t need iTunes. I don’t WANT iTunes.
- I wanted to buy one specific item, not to sign up for a completely unneeded and unwanted iTunes service, which appears to be the *only* way to buy anything online from Apple now. It also appears to be deliberately designed to make it very difficult to avoid buying stuff I don’t need and don’t want, and I have to be very careful to avoid unwanted purchases.
- The process of finding one specific item to buy was overly complex, requiring repeated searches and multiple clicks and carefully wandering through a bunch of unrelated stuff. The entire site is an obstacle course designed to shove stuff I don’t need and don’t want in my face.
- I was unable to change my [email address omitted] “Apple ID” despite the fact that I have not used that email address in years, I no longer have any use for it whatsoever, and I don’t believe it to be valid now.
I don’t need your iCloud, and I DON’T WANT IT. I don’t even want it for FREE. The Apple “walled garden” is no more desirable to me than Google’s “walled garden” or Microsoft’s “walled garden.”
I have one more item to purchase — unless I can find an equivalent somewhere besides through iTunes, after which I will do whatever it is I need to do to delete my iTunes account. I don’t want to put up with that kind of forced opt-in BS, and since I don’t have to, I won’t. This experience has been enough to motivate me to sell my iMac and be rid of it, which I plan to do unless I find a way to purchase software for it that does not involve iTunes (or anything like it).
I figured that would be the end of it. However, the next day, I got another email from Apple support.
Greetings from iTunes Store Customer Support. My name is [name omitted]. Thank you for the reply.
Howard, I apologized [sic] for the inconvenience caused to you. I have issued 5 song credits to your “[email address omitted]” iTunes Store account for the inconvenience from us. You can use these to buy the individual songs of your choice from the iTunes Store.
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). Make sure you click the price to the right of each song name, not the price underneath the album cover. Please note that song credits cannot be used for purchasing gifts or songs that are listed as “Album Only.”
If you don’t see your credits, refresh your account information by signing out and back in to the iTunes Store. You can find both “Sign Out” and “Sign In” in the Store menu at the top.
Howard, I would also like to offer you the opportunity to add any suggestions or concerns you may have, here.
This will allow the appropriate department to view your concern, as each request and comment is individually reviewed and recorded and may take, any suggestions you may have into consideration to improve the store in the future.
On more than one occasion I have seen changes made within Apple solely based on customer comments. As a matter of fact, customer feedback is the driving force behind many of Apple’s policies and products.
Howard, I apologize for any inconvenience that this may be causing and hope I have addressed your concerns. Should you need anything further with your iTunes account or billing, definitely let me know and I will be happy to further assist. Thank you for choosing iTunes.
Riiiiiight… In order to make it up to me, I’m being offered something I explicitly said I did not want. I’m guessing from the spelling and grammar that the writer of this reply was not a native English speaker, although it is better-written than some other “support” emails I have gotten. But it is quite obvious that the writer did not comprehend (or perhaps willfully ignored) what I was saying in my feedback note (actually, I’m guessing it was a “fill-in-the-blanks” template provided by his manager).
But that does suggest an approach to getting 5 free iTunes downloads, for someone who is so inclined, and willing to go through those motions.
P.S. I think I may have found an open source alternative to Final Cut Pro that may be able to handle the relatively limited amount of video editing I want to do. Now, if only I can figure out how to delete that iTunes account…