Thanks to Scott Hanselman for reminding me why I don’t like security. Or to be more accurate, I hate that we need security. I don’t like reading stories like this. Discolours my view of the world. Hillbillies ain’t what you might call a pessimistic lot.

Alas, we are still realists. So after reading Scott’s carefully worded tale, my first reaction was to head on over to the Apple store and reset my password. The fact that I’m blogging about it should indicate that it didn’t go well but we’ll started with background.

I’ve always hated the Apple Store. The authentication confuses me to no end. Early on, I addressed this by not making as many purchases as I normally would. Mostly because I often can’t so I’ve stopped trying.

The first sign of trouble was when my credit card expired. I got a replacement but was never able to enter it in. It didn’t like the Bahamian address. That’s understandable, many companies don’t. I have a replacement card with a US address for exactly this purpose. But for whatever reason, it always said the postal code was wrong. I called my credit card company to verify it and checked statements and it was exactly as I entered. I even called Apple support though that was over a year ago and I have no recollection of the experience. Issue has never been resolved.

At Christmas, I set my daughter up with an Apple account of her own for her shiny new iThing. Entered my credit card info (the US card) for her account and it went through with no issues. (She doesn’t know the password which gives me a false sense of order.) She doesn’t install too many apps anymore because she’s gotten tired of my swearing whenever I have to go through the authentication process.

You see, because we don’t install apps very often, the Apple terms and conditions have usually changed since the last purchase. And the process to purchase an app in this case is (from memory):

  1. Select the app I want to install
  2. Enter your password
  3. Click OK on the notice that says I have to accept the new terms
  4. Accept the new terms
  5. Re-purchase the application
  6. Re-enter my password

(Side note: my password requires several shifts between various symbol sets on the iThing keyboard.)

(Side note 2: This process is identical if I want to update an already installed application.)

But this isn’t what I set out to talk about today. Back to changing my password.

First a minor quibble. I went to to change my password and saw nothing to indicate where to do this. No “My Account”, no “Log in here”. I did find it relatively quickly by clicking “Store” but it was a toss-up between that and “Support”. “Store” appears first in the menu.

I still noticed a lack of “Here’s where you sign in” but the “Account” button was suspicious. I clicked it and discovered I was already logged in. I can’t remember the last purchase I made on the Apple store website. I don’t think I ever have. Maybe it’s linked to iTunes on my computer in which case the answer is “sometime in spring”. That’s a heckuva cache in any case.

Next link (I’m not doing screenshots because I’m too lazy to blur out the sensitive information) was “Change account information” wherein I discovered that I wasn’t actually logged in; my daughter was. “No matter,” says I, “a good opportunity to change her password as well.” And at the same time, I decided to remove the credit card attached to her account.

Except there’s no obvious way to do this. It should the credit card attached to her account and there are options to change the card number or type but nothing to say “Remove this card” or “Forget this information” or even “None” in the list of card types.

I figured out fairly quickly that you can do it by removing the card number. So here was my process:

  1. Delete the card number
  2. Click Continue
  3. Receive error message to enter my password
  4. Enter my password twice and press enter
  5. Receive error message to correct messages in red
  6. Scroll to the bottom and select a value for “Where will you primarily use the product you are purchasing?” because it is imperative Apple knows this
  7. Click Continue
  8. Receive error message to enter my password
  9. Enter my password twice and press enter

At this point, I’m starting to realize just how many chances a potential hacker has for sniffing out my password.

(Side note: My shipping address is a PO Box. This is apparently not allowed and I would randomly get validation messages to correct it. But sometimes not. At the time of writing, my shipping address remains a PO Box.)

With the credit card successfully removed, I was now able to start the task of changing the password on my own account.

This remains to be done and I will give it another try as soon as I click Publish. The primary impediment is that there is no Sign Out button anywhere that I can see on the Apple store. When I click Account, it helpfully reminds me that I’m logged in as my daughter. But there is no “not Syd?” link the likes of which you see on Amazon, Go Daddy, and my plumber’s website that hasn’t been updated since the late 20th century.

This appears to be a frequent issue based on my search. I’m not going to clear my cache or cookies because I want to try to solve this in a way that I can relate to my mother over the phone when she inevitably tries to do the same thing.

The lack of an obvious “I want to leave your store” mechanism was the final straw that broke my “I can’t be bothered to blog about this” camel’s back. That’s where things stand now. For all the gripes I made about the Samsung Tablet, I must admit that I don’t have similar issues with it in this regard.

What makes this even more frustrating is that this is Apple of all companies. They’re all about user experience and yet they have bungled what, in my mind, is the most important part from their perspective: a customer wants to give you money. Or a customer wants to update their account to make it easier to give you money.

Kyle the Insecure