A story of Apple’s excruciating & outdated legal practices
From a developer’s point of view
I’m the co-founder of a small tech startup, bambuu. We make apps, prototypes and other cool web services for other companies. We’ve been developing iOS apps for quite some time now, which requires that each developer has an Apple Developer account, and the organization as a whole has an Apple Developer license. This is a story of how I tried to do two seemingly simple things as an Apple developer: Changing my developer account name, and later the company’s developer account name. It turns out this is the equivalent of a bike ride through hell with triangular wheels, and not an easy stroll in the park as I thought it would be. Therefore beware: this is more of a rant (or actually two rants squished into one article) than a story, so there’s a slight chance you might miss the jokes, and get really angry when reading this.
Round 1: Apple’s “Obvious” security reasons trumps my privacy concerns
It all started when I created my Apple Developer account, using my existing Apple ID. I quickly noticed that the name on my account was wrong, which was weird since it was directly tied with my regular Apple ID. My developer account showed me as ‘Sofie Reinhold’, which admittedly is a nice name, however my real name is ‘Jeppe Reinhold’.
When I tried to fix this from the developer site, I was sent straight to my regular Apple ID settings page, where the name was of course correctly displayed as it had always been. What the hell, it’s the exact same account?After a few days of questioning my very existence in life (was I really Sofie?), I decided to contact Apple Support.
The conversation with the support guy, let’s call him John, that followed was both amusing and saddening at the same time. It turns out that your Apple developer account takes the name you used to create the Apple ID with, and not the actual current name of the ID. I created my Apple ID over 10 years ago, and for reasons too long to explain, I used a fake girls name for my Apple ID. 10 years later I have to pay for it.
Nevertheless, I was conversing with Apple Support to fix this mess, but this is where the first problems started to appear. You see, apparently I had to attach “some kind of government issued photo ID” to verify my real name. A bit strange to me, since it’s perfectly fine to change your name on the regular Apple ID account, but “I’m no legal wizard” I thought, “there’s probably something I don’t understand”.
I had a bigger problem to attend to though; I was required to send a copy of the photo ID using a fax machine. 🤷 I’m sorry, I was born in ’92, in a fairly developed European country called Denmark, and I’ve NEVER seen a fax being used in real life before. I’ve seen and owned multiple fax machines sure, but no one has ever used one. Does that still happen? Maybe there’s an entire fax industry only kept alive by Apple’s meticulous security guidelines. After some convincing with emails going back and forth, John kindly wrote that “Alternatively, we can review documentation sent by email.” Phew. Saved by the bell.
So, as a sane person, following all internet privacy guidelines out there, I emailed a picture of my driver’s license, with all the sensitive information such as social security number and license number blurred out.
But no, John wasn’t happy. At all. John replied to me in the best way possible: “I understand your privacy concerns, but we can not accept incomplete IDs for obvious security concerns”. WHAT OBVIOUS SECURITY REASONS JOHN?!? Why do you explicitly need to see my driver’s license ID, it’s not like you can compare it to anything? Unless you’re running a side business selling official european documents to shady russian mobsters, there’s no reason for you to have it. I would go as far as saying that my privacy concerns are more obvious than Apple’s “obvious” security reasons.
John was kind though and offered me an alternative: I could send other documentation “such as National Identity Card, if available, or Passport.” Yeah, I’m totally gonna send a picture of my passport, without concealing any information, to a random person on the internet. That’s not dangerous at all.
I caved in, and sent a perfect picture of my driver’s license with no information concealed. Let’s all hope that John doesn’t decide to throw me under the bus to make a quick buck on the side. This marked the end of round 1, as 2 month later I received an email stating that “Name — changed from $oldUserFirstName $oldUserLastName to Jeppe Reinhold”. Thanks Applebot, nice job.
And so, for a short while, life was good. In bambuu we put an app on the App Store, and everything worked flawlessly. In a few months, we had grown so much, that it was time to change the legal entity of our company (you know, the part where it says Inc., LLC, etc.).
What happens when you change the legal entity of your company? You guessed it, you change the name of the company as well.
Round 2: Welcome to the 21st century Apple
This time, Apple luckily had an official form meant to edit your company information, however it requires that you “provide business or court documentation that reflects the change”. No other service provider required this documentation, but who knows, maybe Apple’s legal team is just better than the rest. 🤔
As requested, I uploaded a business document that reflected the name change. The document was an official summary of the board meeting, where it was clearly stated that the legal entity and name of bambuu should change, signed by all members of the board. At this point I thought “okay, we’re using grown-up words like ‘pursuant’, ‘quorum’ and ‘vote’, it doesn’t get any more official than that.”
But it’s almost like the Apple Support anticipated that I would write this article, and wanted to help out. Because as you’ve probably guessed by now, Apple wouldn’t go down without a fight. It turns out, that even though it’s stated multiple places to “provide business or court documentation that reflects the change”, what they actually mean is “provide a court document”.
So, next step was to get an official court document. The problem with this though, is that Apple doesn’t accept Danish documents, and the Danish government doesn’t usually issue English documentation for stuff like this. Unless of course, you pay the government 80 $ that is. And so it happened, that we were now at the point where we were paying 80 $ to change 3 letters on bambuu’s Apple developer account. This isn’t really Apple’s fault though, so I’m not gonna rant too much about this. (I’m pretty confident though, that this is just a sick money making scheme between Apple and foreign governments. Also, chemtrails)
We received the court document by mail a few days later, scanned it, uploaded it, and it got accepted. Nice. 👍
Unfortunately we weren’t done yet. We were now sent a new legal document that I had to sign. As you might imagine, this document (called ‘Consent to the Assignment of the Apple Developer Program License Agreement’), was written in a language more fitting for a church service from the 15th century, than a developer just trying to build nice apps. However using multiple forensic techniques taught by Horatio Caine in CSI: Miami season 3, I was able to figure out what I was actually signing. It basically stated, that I was transferring all my licenses from one company, bambuu IVS, to another company, bambuu ApS. Let that sink in for a minute. I fill out a form, where I explicitly state that my company is changing name and legal entity, and yet I still have to sign a document that treats this matter like it’s a transfer between two completely separate companies.
After signing the document, Apple wanted me to “print and send three (3) original signed copies … to Apple via express shipping to [Cupertino]”. Naive as I was, I kindly offered to do it even quicker than express shipping, by simply SENDING IT BY F*CKING EMAIL INSTEAD! The pdf document noted that I could reply the email if I had any questions, and the email stated that I couldn’t reply, I had to submit a new issue if I needed further assistance. I of course did both. After two weeks, I hadn’t received any response. Maybe they spent the two weeks deciding which mail to respond to?
I decided to send the documents by snail mail. As a western living in the year 2017, I had forgotten all about good ol’ regular mail, and naturally had to look up the whole ordeal on the World Wide Web.
And then it magically happened. 1 month and 21 days after the first form submission, the name of the bambuu Apple developer account was officially updated. 🎉 And all it required was 80 $, countless hours, and my will to live. All worth it.
This was a story from a small tech startup trying to make a living as app developers. It may sound like I’m a grumpy ol’ man, but if you check me out on bambuu’s website or on twitter, you’ll see that I’m just a regular Danish guy enjoying life. I hope you had a good laugh, and that you didn’t get as angry as I did.
Btw., this is how we changed the company name on our Google Play account.
PS. We have to remember that we are dealing with humans here. This is all fun and jokes, but let’s please remind each other that we’re all just unperfect humans that make mistakes. Mistakes that we have to forgive everyday. Except if you’re on Apple’s legal team, then you’re dead to me.