Spare a thought for iTunes user Peter Bilderback. His account was hacked and someone downloaded almost a $1000 worth of items from the iTunes store using his account. Bad stuff, but it happens. Bilderback wonders why Apple did not query the purchase of iPhone apps, when it knew that he had no iPhone – you would have thought that Apple’s closed system would be ideal for this scenario at least – but never mind, the credit card company spotted the suspicious activity and disputed the charges with Apple.
This is where it gets really nasty. Apple closed the compromised iTunes account and de-authorised all his purchases – not only the ones the fraudster grabbed, but everything he had bought over a period of 6 years:
When I contacted Apple about what happened they were totally unhelpful. Now they seem to have closed my iTunes account entirely, and I can no longer access any of the protected AAC music files, television shows or movies that I “purchased” from iTunes in the past. They are as good as gone. iTunes customer service does not respond to my emails inquiring about how to get my account reactivated. I cannot get through to anyone via phone, I just get a message directing me to their customer service website, and I can’t really use that because as far as Apple is concerned, I don’t have an account with them anymore.
With such a clear-cut case, you would think that Bilderback would eventually recover his purchases, but he says the incident “has been going on for three months now with no resolution in sight”.
The case highlights the difference between the old world of buying physical media like a CD, which comes with a transferable licence for personal use, and the new one where you download the media and buy a licence that is more restrictive, sometimes combined with technical content protection that further limits how you can enjoy your purchase.
That said, much iTunes content is not DRM-protected so presumably Bilderback can still get access to that.
The other aspect of this story is about customer service. It is a common story: individual versus large corporate entity, and the difficulty in getting through to anyone with both the willingness to listen and the power to do anything about a problem.
I guess he could try emailing Steve Jobs? Sometimes you get a reply.