There Is No Delete

I don’t have any Apple devices. I used to own a bunch of them, but over time I’ve switched from an iPhone to a Nexus phone; I have an Android tablet; my laptop and desktop both run Linux. Somewhere along the way, I decided that I should either delete my old Apple ID or remove my credit card from that account. [caption id=“attachment_1156” align=“alignright” width=“300”]An empty stadium The people who have successfully deleted an Apple account are all in this section.[/caption]

Deleting an Account?

If you have one, open up the Apple ID portal, sign in, and see if you can figure out how to delete your account. You’ll quickly discover that there’s no way to delete an Apple ID through this portal. The next step is to search the internet. Google didn’t turn up any information about how to delete an Apple ID. I did see a lot of links about how to remove an Apple ID from a phone in preparation for selling it, but that’s it. A comment in a Stack Overflow answer let me to where I learned that I can try to convince a customer service rep to delete my account. These are the same people, by the way, who were part of that whole “nude celeb account hack” scandal. After speaking with a customer service rep, I learned that if I want to delete the account, that email address can never be used again.

There is no delete, only Zuul

That’s right - if you decide you don’t want to run the risk of someone getting a hold of your credit cards, you’ll never be able to use that email address again. From the sound of it, the account is marked closed and we can never associate anything with it again. Of course, I don’t know why this is happening. It could be the Apple is using a system that doesn’t provide certain guarantees. After all, in many distributed systems if you remove a user, there’s nothing to say that purchases associated with that account will also be removed. These things can be very hard to accomplish. Whatever the rationale, it’s really disappointing to know that I can’t just delete my Apple ID and live happily ever after.

Just delete the card, they said

The customer service rep, after reminding me that Apple makes shiny things and that I might want a shiny thing in the future, suggested I could just delete the credit card. This seems like a great compromise. There’s only one problem: it’s not possible through the web. If I want to delete a credit card from my Apple ID, for the reason that I own no Apple devices, I need to install iTunes and use iTunes to remove the credit card. Which, by the way, will then require that I go back into the web UI and remove the computer with iTunes from the list of trusted devices.

What are you getting at, Jeremiah?

I’m not really getting at anything. Deletes may not be deletes in a system. If you’re truly keeping the users in mind as you build out an application, make sure that you take into account all user behavior - don’t force the users to conform to your application. Figure out how the application can work with the users' requirements.

Photo by Marvin Ronsdorf licensed under CC0