Being the self-proclaimed king of edge-case issues, here’s what happened to me today causing about 4 hours of chat/phone calls with Apple’s most senior technicians.
Apple announced availability of higher iCloud storage plans today in 6 and 12 terabytes capacities. This is an increase from 2 terabytes before. The 2+2 plan previously available to Apple One Premier customers was only available if your Apple Media & Purchases account matched your iCloud account. For people from the iTools/MobileMe era who have separate email addresses for iTunes & iCloud, that 4 terabyte plan was not available.
What this meant for me was 2.5 years of exporting all videos from iCloud Photos in order to stay under the 2 terabyte Apple One Premier / $9.99 iCloud storage tier. Until today when I could finally move to a 6 terabyte plan.
I upgraded all of our devices (3 HomePods, 2 iPhones, 2 iPads and 2 AppleTVs to iOS 17 and on my Mac running Ventura, I upgraded to the 6 terabyte plan for $29.99 renewing every month starting October 18th.
My Apple One Premier renews September 30th
On the MacRumors forum, I found this post which really got me excited. See, the only reason I was on the Premier plan is not for Apple Fitness, Arcade or News+. It was because that plan offered 2 terabytes of storage. I really only want Music + AppleTV+ and 2 terabytes. The other tiers offer only 50 & 200GB respectively. That poster realized that you could simply downgrade to the lowest cost Apple One plan and then you’d have the extra 6 terabytes for only a few bucks more than the most expensive tier plan assuming you didn’t need those extra services.
I didn’t read the fine print on Apple One’s product page that their Individual Plan at $16.95 a month was truly individual. I upgraded to 6 terabytes, then went to the manage subscription page on my iOS 17 phone and clicked Individual. There was no warning that by doing so I’d be kicking my wife off of shared Family benefits. She’d lose access to all of Apple One features & the storage for which she was using about 600 gigabytes of.
There is small print that says “Share with up to five people” on the $22.95 Family tier.
Had I had just picked Family instead of Individual, my 4-hour ordeal would have been avoided.
For the record, my devices were A-Okay. I had 6 terabytes of storage and all of the Apple services except Fitness & News.
Realizing my mistake, I went back into Apple One subscription on my iPhone and upgraded to Family (not premier) but the damage was done. She was stuck in a limbo of being my Family but not having any of the iCloud+ benefits (features or storage) now even though she did get restored to Apple Music, TV+ and Arcade.
On my iPhone and Mac running the latest public builds of iOS 17 and Ventura, I had a a nagging checklist screen prompting me to add my family to iCloud+ Selecting this option would open a screen prompting me to upgrade my iCloud Drive storage. Already having the 6 terabyte plan, I could either downgrade or upgrade to the 12 terabyte plan.
After an hour of self-troubleshooting over lunch, I thought well let’s try the 12 terabyte plan. The upgrade worked seamlessly, I was charged another $30 by Apple and yet could not give my wife Family Sharing iCloud+ features.
On her side, it got even weirder. Her device showed 2 terabytes of iCloud storage but a “Renews October 18th” and the plan showed 5 gigabytes of storage. Basically she had been allowed the Apple One Premier storage of 2 terabytes all alone with a decrease to 5GB in a month. I later learned this is a grace period Apple gives you when you cancel a storage plan or are removed from one. You have 30 days to purchase your own storage before your content is deleted.
Finally, our shared photo library was still intact and I was a bit relieved having just done a full export of the 1.8 terabyte library to my Synology a few weeks ago so all of our content was backed up.
At this point, with my account on a 12 terabyte iCloud+ / Apple One family plan and my wife with just Apple One family plan (yet not receiving 200GB of iCloud+ data), I had to initiate a chat with Apple. I was transferred 4 times over the course of 1 hour. Each time it was to escalate my case further. Finally, they requested a call with me from a senior tech from the iCloud team.
The call lasted 1.5 hours. I feel, in recap that the technician never quite understood exactly what was going on. They continued to mention how iOS 17 just came out today and they weren’t aware there were new storage tiers. They were unfamiliar with the screens I was showing during our iOS17 screen sharing presentation and we spent a lot of time going around in circles. One thing I had to keep reiterating is that all I want is a Time Machine.
Can the tech put me back onto an Apple One Premier plan with no storage tier and fix my wife’s family functions so she could share our access then I could re-do my steps. Unfortunately, this was never performed.
After 1.5 hours (30 of which on hold), the technician had cancelled my storage plans but, due to how Apple’s subscriptions work, I wouldn’t realize that cancellation for 30 days (end of the term).
Just to say that differently, Apple could not cancel immediately my 6 or 12 terabyte storage purchases. I was left with “just wait 30 days then buy them again, you’ll see the charges returned in a few days”
They were going to refer me to Apple’s subscription team next to fix my Apple One Premier issues next but I had a meeting requested the case numbers so I could call that team back later.
At this point, nothing had been fixed except a refund on my two $30 purchases “in the next 2-3 days”
I called back 30 minutes later, as promised and spoke to a person who was also not helpful. He agreed to cancel Apple One Premier and when I said “won’t that reduce my storage to 5GB?” He said yes and even though he agreed there was a 30 day grace period after Premiere was cancelled, he couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t lose any data. I spent 15 minutes back and forth with this person who truly didn’t care to offer any guarantees or assurances only repeating that he wasn’t technical support and based on the case notes, his job was only to cancel Apple One and ensure that iCloud+ storage tiers were also cancelled. After the 2nd time of being asked if all of my issues were resolved, I said “No but it sounds like you are done” and he wrapped up the call.
I left my phone at home and went out to go grocery shopping after restarting all of our family devices.
After getting home, I once again tried to downgrade iCloud storage which was met with a beach ball for 10 minutes and share iCloud+ with my family which again failed saying I needed to buy more storage despite “6 terabytes” showing.
As a last ditch effort, I did the only thing I knew how to do. I signed out of iCloud & App Store on all of my devices and my wife did the same. Before doing that, I removed her as a family member.
I turned on only my iPhone, logged into iCloud, waited 30 minutes and then I logged into App Store and disabled the “don’t renew” on the Apple One Premiere plan.
After 30 more minutes, I had her login to all of her devices and I did the same to mine. We were all back in and I found the option on my iOS 17 iPhone that said “Add family to enjoy iCloud+ for free” I walked through and invited her via this method. She received the invite and suddenly, everything was back to normal….almost.
At this point, we still had Apple One Premier (which we didn’t need) and she and I were finally sharing a pool of 12 terabytes of data (double what we needed). But she had all of her Apple subscription services showing up and I had mine. Unfortunately, all of our devices are now downloading all iCloud Photos, files, contacts, calendars and drive data again which is going to take a week to complete and we had to fully setup iCloud again including FindMy, purchase sharing and many more features.
….4 hours later my wife showed me her iPhone had once again prompted her to upgrade to iCloud+ Her iPad Pro also had the same message. I once again removed her as family and re-added her and it’s fixed again. i don’t know for how long?
My effort to save a messily $10 a month by downgrading our Apple One plan so as to not be double-paying for storage caused a 7 hour ordeal (so far) where I was at risk of losing all of my iCloud data and having to spend 15 minutes with an Apple tech support technician who tried to convince me I should just abandon my AppleID used for media and purchases and put everything on iCloud. When I asked them “what about my purchased apps and subscriptions?” It took a while but they finally came around to the fact that their suggestion actually wouldn’t work.
The string of interactions just proved to me that Apple doesn’t have technicians who aren’t well trained and great at customer service but instead, the product is a house of cards that even people who are paid to understand it simply don’t. iTools became .Mac and then MobileMe and finally iCloud while iTunes (that used to be synced with AOL accounts) was used by people who spend thousands on music, movies, TV shows, Apps and now subscriptions. These 2 AppleID systems are separate and yet linked with Apple One which is a subscription with an iCloud+ product. You then share all of these benefits with family members and something as innocent as picking the wrong Apple One plan that doesn’t include family sharing causes the house of cards to fall and only through brute resetting and a risk of losing all of your data can you maybe return to the way things were.
I’ll wake up tomorrow not having saved $10 but instead spending $60 more than necessary.
What next? I have to wait until October 18th to see if the 12 terabyte plan will cancel or renew in which I’ll have to call Apple back to beg they refund me $30 and put me on the 6TB plan.
You can save $10 a month by forgoing News & Fitness giving your family 200GB of iCloud+ data before you purchase 6 or 12 terabytes of data but do it in the wrong order and you’re going to have a rough day.