Well, here it is. This is not a tech post. Not a programming post either. This is just a rant I really needed to put online for some people to know. Also, I know this will never appear on Hacker News but I always wanted to write one of those “why I <type here a randomly shit nobody really cares about>” posts :)
tl;dr: Apple are a bunch of jokers.
Here’s the story. Last week my MacBook decided to refuse booting. It’s a late 2008 model (the first Unibody), and I was hoping it wasn’t because of a hardware issue. Actually, the machine booted, but it would refuse to show the login screen after the initial load and the second appearance of the Apple logo. For the record, I had Mountain Lion installed on it and have had no problems so far. After trying some things like repairing disk permissions, clearing the NVRAM, do a safe boot and some other black magic suggested in the Apple support pages and a good friend who happens to know a lot about the Mac world, I came to the conclusion that the problem was really not repairable and decided to go for a clean Mountain Lion install.
After booting the box into a Ubuntu Live CD and backing up some non essential files that I’d rather not lose either, I reinstalled Mountain Lion. Everything was fine. I had now a clean Mountain Lion installation on a laptop without any noticeable hardware issues. I had just only lost some hours of my time. No big deal.
But then I went to the Mac App Store to redownload and reinstall iPhoto. To my surprise, the App did not appear as purchased. The system was asking me to pay the £13 or so it cost. The thing is, I had already purchased iPhoto 3 months ago. So I decided to email Apple support and ask for help.
This was the answer: “You purchased iPhoto when your Apple ID country was Spain, and then you changed your Apple ID country to United Kingdom, so you lost all purchases made while your ID was linked to Spain”. And this is in fact true: I moved from Barcelona to London 3 months ago and decided to change my Apple ID country to the UK. What I did certainly not know is that stupid policy of you losing all purchases when changing countries.
So I replied Customer Service to actually get a clarification on that, and the answer was crystal clear: “yes, all purchases in the App Store are linked to the country of your Apple ID, so if you change it, you lose the purchases”.
It seems this is no recent news, as a search on the internet showed different people having to deal with the same issue. But this did not make it less stupid. What kind on nonsense and stupid policy is that?
I could understand a similar policy with movies or music, as all those monster major distribution companies issue rights to watch or listen to certain material on a country basis. This is obviously a matter for another post and another site. But for software? And even worse, software being developed and sold by Apple themselves?
When did we all go so fucking crazy about everything?
So I asked Apple again: “are you telling me that I bought a software from you 3 months ago to run on this machine, and now, 3 months later, after having to do a system clean installation, on the same fucking machine, I have to pay AGAIN for the same fucking software?” The answer was clear again: “yes, I’m aware this is not the answer you were expecting but it’s how it works”. And then this hilarious predefined quote at the bottom of the email telling me “how happy we are to have you as a member of the Apple family”. Ha!
Searching on google again, I found out some people managed to get a refund because of that, so I thought I had nothing to lose to try. I emailed again (and did the same through the feedback links on Apple’s web site asking for a refund and telling them as nicely as I was able to do given the fucking circumstances that I felt like I was treated like garbage.
Let’s be honest. I am not one of those really old Apple customers. This MacBook was my second one and besides that I’ve only owned an iPod mini, two iPhones and an iPad (and I have to say the overall experience with both those products and the company was clearly positive). So no, I am not one of those poor sad bastards that go queue during the night to get a fucking gadget the day it gets released (although I have to admit I’ve done that with the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade release). But this really has nothing to do with it. They just crossed the line. Again. And yes, I know there is some shitty legal things involved in all this regarding VAT and some other things, but this is NOTHING Apple can not get over to make an App purchase valid if you fucking move countries.
In the end Apple resolved my issue by giving me some redeem codes, not only for iPhoto but also for iMovie and GarageBand (apps that I do not use and I’m very unlikely to do so in the future), but not because of what happened, according to the Customer Service email, but because “we have checked that the MacBook you bought came with iLife, so we are generous enough to let you fucking download again a software you already paid for 3 months ago”.
Well, you know what? You’ve lost a customer for a fucking £13 App.
Good job, Apple.