Apple locked me out of its walled garden and it was a nightmare

Luke Kurtis recently was forced to find out what happens when the technology you’ve built your life around suddenly isn’t there.

Luke Kurtis for Quartz:

A few months ago, I purchased an iTunes gift card off of a popular discount website. This is something I’ve done for years to manage my spending on the platform — it also helps my partner and I buy things for one shared iTunes account. I’ve been buying gift cards every so often, particularly during sale periods, when retailers sell iTunes and App Store gift cards at a discount.

When I received the card and loaded it into my iTunes account, I purchased some music over the next few days, as I’ve often done since my first iTunes purchase in 2005. I bought a few songs, streamed a new movie, and marveled at the magic of Apple’s seamless integration of hardware and services. Or so I thought.

About a week after I redeemed the gift card, I noticed my iTunes account wasn’t working. When I tried to log in, it said my account was locked. I searched online for help, but I couldn’t find a solution. I called up Apple support… The senior agent informed me my account had been locked because I’d used a fraudulent gift card…When Apple locked my account, all of my devices became virtually unusable.

MacDailyNews Take: Kurtis had a bad experience that was finally corrected after sending an email to Tim Cook. Now he want to “try out an Android.”

He’ll be back.


    1. And amazingly enough, if not abused, you often get responses. When the first batch of 2016 MacBook Pros had the serious thermal throttling problem I sent a message to Tim Cook, and pointed them to the first video to demonstrate the throttling problem. I sent them a link to my own video demonstrating the throttling problem. I pointed out that the YouTube guy already had over a million views with him literally putting the machine in the refrigerator and stuff.

      I asked how is it that these things, such serious things, continue to go unnoticed when a product is shipped. I explained how difficult it is to talk clients into waiting for a MacBook Pro refresh only to be met with a newer, more expensive, but slower computer. I said that I was so tired of being disappointe

      I got a response within the same day. I did not talk directly to Mr. Cook, but an Apple representative indicated that the issue was news to Apple and that they would be getting on it right away.

      Always be polite. I always wish Mr. Cook well, then get to the point.

      1. Agreed. With every company I have ever emailed, I have been pleasant while being upset with their product/service. If you start calling people names and dropping F bombs everywhere, nobody will work with you.

      2. two notes, one I’m happy, one not so much:

        — happy: somebody took action within a day

        — not happy: “an Apple representative indicated that the issue was news to Apple “. I hope the representative is just wrong, because if he’s right that no one at Apple knows about it … I’m wondering:
        a video has a million views, the issue is discussed in many forums and it’s news to Apple with over one hundred and fifty thousand staff?

        (I’m not even saying there’s ‘truth’ or not in the issue, I’m saying just being aware of such videos, or the ‘pulse’ of users.) I wish Apple would have a better ear to the ground especially regarding what Mac users are concerned about.

  1. While he didn’t; know he bought a fraud card, Apple you’d think would have had a simple policy to let him cover the charges from the bad card and continue, you’d think it would be obvious he didn’t intend to cheat Apple, it was a bad card that he probably thought was a good deal… So much for that “popular discount site”

  2. Scams are taking place asking people to make payments for things such as taxes, hospital bills, bail money, debt collection, and utility bills, using Apple gift cards. I am not sure how anyone would think this is legitimate way to pay, but the scammers need to covert the cards to cash – thus the ‘discount deals’. I am sure some of the discounted cards come from people who receive them as gifts and don’t use anything Apple, but mixed in are scammers trying to get cash. Bottom line is that I understand why Apple takes this matter seriously. Personally this story has reduced any desire I have had to buy Apple gift cards at a discount from online sellers.

    1. Yeah, this story sounds like “I’ve been buying discounted macs for years from this guy named ‘Steve’. I’ve been doing it for years as it gives me access to the newest and fastest macs for an unbelievable price. This time, the cops showed up two weeks later saying I’d ‘received stolen goods’ AND JUST LIKE THAT, I WAS UNABLE TO USE iTUNES ON MY MAC BECAUSE MY MAC WAS GONE!!!”

      But, as with anything, a true, real story about how an idiot did something idiotic and then had to pay or their idiocy gets nowhere near as many clicks as “APPLE DONE DONE ME RONG! WALD GARTEN!”

      1. The big retail store Costco occasionally has $100 Apple gift cards on sale for $85 – that’s a really good deal, and I always buy a couple when I see that.
        A couple times, I’ve bought similarly discounted cards via links from, which also worked.
        I guess I’ll be even more cautious in the future.
        I’d like to know what the author’s “popular discount site” was. Yikes.

        1. I just went and actually read the article. The website that sold the stolen gift card was MassGenie, who later apologized and refunded the author.
          However, what I find really disturbing is how many “senior agents” at Apple Support the author spoke to, some of whom said he would be restored, and others who basically told him “too bad.”
          I’ve noticed that Apple Support can be sometimes great, but sometimes NOT great. We’ve all got a LOT invested in the Apple ecosystem. I would hope there’s some better way to escalate an appeal of what amounts to an Apple ecosystem death sentence against a customer. If that higher appeal is emailing Tim Cook, it might be good to know that’s available to everyone, not just journalists. I saw the post (below) by TheloniousMac – that was encouraging, and good to keep in mind, but I still would feel a bit nervous.

    1. I’ve had clients tricked into buying a stack of Apple gift cards through clever social engineering, then literally emailing the legitimate gift card numbers to the crooks. Later they will try to use the Gift cards and they get busted for having a fraudulent card.

      1. I’ve never used an Apple/iTunes gift card but have purchased and used physical and e-gift cards for many other product and service vendors. In every case that I’ve had a ‘bad’ card I was told at the point where I attempted to redeem all or part of the value that the balance on the ‘card’ was zero. I had them check a second time (number possibly input wrong) and if it was still a failure I would contact the discount site I bought it from and have it resolved. I have never to date had an experience where a gift card payment was accepted and later had the service or product revoked.

        Is Apple unique in this or has anyone else had a similar experience with other gift cards.

        1. It’s possible that he had a balance on his iTunes account that allowed him to continue purchasing items until the balance fell to zero. When he continued making purchases past that point, the account was frozen until Apple could determine whether it was just the one gift card or the whole account that was fraudulent.

      1. While that may be true, the extent Apple went, to continue denying service even after having been contacted by the victim of the fraud wanting to resolve the issue, seems excessive.

        1. Exactly how do you expect Apple to authenticate his claims despite him being able to prove his identity? Apple has no proof he wasn’t in on it. After all, unwittingly or not, he participated in defrauding Apple. Do you know how many thousands or tens of thousand of times a week this happens on a global basis? Do you have any idea what that amounts to in dollars?

          Awww, he called up and said it was just a big mistake and you don’t understand. It isn’t Apples job to be a nursemaid or reimburse customers who are paying the price for their own attempts to cut corners. It’s the same as any other product you purchase – You didn’t buy it from us or an authorized reseller? Too bad. You are out of luck.

          1. The best Apple could do is authenticate and look at past history. Is it the first/single occurrence? Was the user notified of the problem with the card? What happened was unfortunate but the actions taken by Apple tantamount to making the user a ‘criminal’ without once contacting the user created a bad customer experience, the lifeblood of any service company.

            I’m sure gift card fraud happens, as does credit card fraud. In the latter case there are policies in place to review the ‘gray’ cases. For Apple in the former case it appears the judgement is very binary.

  3. Discount site? Is this guy a moron? And then he write a piece on Quartz that amounts to nothing more than a whining session?

    Absolutely zero sympathy for Luke Kurtis.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.