I don’t like writing negative posts. I feel like there’s enough good stuff out there to write about that I don’t need to talk about stuff that’s anything less than great. However, this seemed important enough to write about. Signing my family up for the Apple Music trial was a disaster. We got accidentally charged, I had to call Apple to get a refund, and we’re still not sure who got a trial and who didn’t. I don’t understand what’s so hard about this.
Let’s start from the beginning. My family shares an Apple ID for purchasing things on the iTunes Store. We set this up years ago because it lets us share purchases. However, more recently, my brother and I set up our own Apple IDs for iMessage, iCloud, and the like – still using the shared account for the Store. This is where things got confusing.
After updating my phone to iOS 8.4, I opened the Music app and was immediately prompted to sign up for the free trial. I accepted (on the shared account), and was asked whether I wanted the family plan or the individual plan when the trial was over. I picked individual (not really sure why). So the shared account got the trial. Great! Unfortunately, I knew everyone’s music would be thrown together on the shared account. Not so great. So I signed out of the shared account and into my account, using the Music app. I didn’t know whether this would sign me out of the store, or just Apple Music (it did sign me out of the store). I was again prompted to choose which plan I wanted, and I chose family (again, not sure why). For some reason, though, I didn’t get the trial. Instead, it signed me up for the family plan right then, immediately charging me $14.99 for the first month. What the heck? Apple said that everyone gets a three month free trial, what difference does it make what account I’m on? I was annoyed.
So I called Apple. It was a Tuesday night, around 7pm. I was on hold for around 10 minutes (not bad at all) and then it started ringing. And ringing. And then the call dropped. Grrrrr. So I called again, and another 10 minutes later, I finally got a person. I explained the situation, and… she had no idea how to fix it. She told me I’d have to wait for the supervisor, and it could be awhile. By this point, it was 7:30pm on a weeknight. Then she said that she could schedule a time for them to call me back. That sounded OK. I opted for Thursday morning. So then I waited.
In the meantime, we decided that we should have everyone in the family switch to their own Apple IDs. Fortunately, sharing purchases has changed since I first got an iPod back in 2008. Through iOS 8’s Family Sharing, you can connect each person’s Apple ID and download each other’s purchases. I talked to a friend who’d used it and she said it worked pretty well. So we set it up.
My phone rang Thursday morning, and I was on hold for around 5 minutes I think. Then I got a person. She told me that you only got the trial once for a family, and that you couldn’t get it for each account. I told her that made no sense. We hadn’t even been in a family at the time. Besides, Apple said that they were giving everyone a three month free trial. What was so hard about that? I had intended to try to get a trial for my account, but the lady did agree to refund me the $15 I had accidentally been charged, so I decided to quit while I was ahead.
So now what to do about actually trying Apple Music. The whole point of a trial is to figure out if it’s worth paying for. Right now, my brother, Dad, and I all have Spotify. I’m the only one who has premium right now. Spotify’s family plan isn’t very good, but Apple Music’s is $15/month for up to 6 people. Right off the bat, that’s tempting; we’re thinking the three of us are going to go in on it together for $5 each. But first we have to make sure that it’s any good. So we got together to figure out what we were going to do. My Dad made a new account for himself, then switched logins on his iPad right after updating: before opening the Music app for the first time. He opened the app… and got a trial. Exactly like he was supposed to (now why didn’t I get that?). My brother’s going to stay on the shared account just for the next three months, and I’ve got that one month that I got a refund for (I feel like after all this pain, it’s fair enough that I use it for the month). After three months are up (oh yeah, there’s no way to stop the trial, and no way to start a family plan while on a trial), assuming it works well (early signs are good, more on that next week), we’re going to pay for the family plan. After one month is up… I’m not sure what will happen to my account. The Music app doesn’t say whether the trial will work over family sharing (although iMore’s Serenity Caldwell says yes, so hopes are high). If not, the three of us will just split the cost of the $9.99/month for two months to get me through the rest of everyone else’s trial. And then we’ll buy the family plan. I guess.
Here’s the worst part: so far I’ve found Apple Music to be really, really good. I totally recommend it as a service. But it’s hard to recommend something that might accidentally charge someone when they sign up. I tried to sign a friend up for the Apple Music trial the other day, but because she had already opened the Music app in iOS 8.4 (a ridiculous thing to tell people not to do), I couldn’t find a way to get a trial. I got the sign up screen, but I didn’t know if I was picking a plan for when the trial was over, or if she would be charged right then. So I gave up and told her sorry, I can’t get it for you. It’s just such a shame that it has to work that way. ••