This tale takes place back when I was working Tier 2 Tech Support on behalf of the company named for a piece of fruit. I had a received an escalation call from an exhausted Tier 1 who had run out of options while helping an elderly woman whose device was Activation Locked. For those of you who are unfamiliar with iProducts, Activation Lock happens when the device gets restored (wiped clean) while signed into the cloud. The only ways around it are to sign back in with your Fruit ID, or to submit an official proof of purchase so that it can be forwarded to a recovery team that may or may not decide the PoP is valid.
This particular lady had forgotten her login information (as many do), and her tablet had been given to her as a gift many moons ago, which meant no PoP. This meant that the only way to get her back in was to reset her password. I always tried to walk the customers through password resets on their end through the password reset website because it was usually a lot quicker to go that route. Unfortunately for this customer, her tablet was her only means of internet access.
Since this customer had no internet access, I had to try to see if we could reset her password on my end. By the grace of god she didn’t have Two-Factor Authentication enabled (Two-Factor makes it so that Fruit Co. cannot do anything on their end to reset a password, and a customer usually needs a second device to be signed in to reset the password). She had Secondary Authentication. Since that was the case, we were able to try to reset the password using her security questions. After many, many attempts, we were only able to get 1 of the required 2 of 3 questions correct to reset the password before we got locked out for 24 hours. At this point I had no choice but to schedule a callback so we could try again the next day.
I reached back out to her the next day and we hopped right into guessing security questions. I had made a mental note of the one we had gotten correct so that I wouldn’t have to worry about her forgetting it, so we mostly focused on the other two. After a couple of guesses, we finally got another one right, which meant I could send a recovery email. However, that circled back around to our initial issue of her not having access to the internet, and therefore being unable to receive said email. To top it off, she no longer had access to that email address. I let her know that she’d have to find someone she trusts that would be able to help her out by letting us send it to their email address, and we ended the call.
A few days later I received a voicemail from her letting me know that her niece graciously offered to let her send the password reset to her email. I called her back and we got the email sent. There was a 24-hour delay on the password reset email, so with that I explained that she could work with her niece to reset the email and sign in, and went over all of the next steps that they could take to unlock her tablet.
A few days late I received another voicemail from her explaining that her niece reset the password, but it wasn’t working. I called her back and we attempted a few logins. Sure enough, the password wasn’t working, and we soon ran out of attempts and had to send another reset email.
A day or two later I received yet another voicemail. Her niece had reset the password again, but it still wasn’t working. I called her back, and we tried logging in again. Each time she typed the password, she said each character aloud, and specified whether or not it was capitalized. She was certain that it was the right password, as she had coordinated it with her niece and confirmed the spelling with her numerous times. There was no other password that it could be. At this point, she had said the password aloud enough times that I was also well aware of what it was supposed to be.
I had a feeling that she may have just been typing the password wrong. It wasn’t too uncommon for that to happen – the elderly customers often had trouble navigating the small keyboards on these devices. The only option seemed to be to have her type it in again and again until it finally took, sending password resets to her niece as necessary. We did that a few times with no success.
Finally, as she was typing, I decided to have her stop after two login attempts to avoid another lockout. I told her I was going to configure something on my end and reach out to her the next day to see if it would work (but made sure not to specify what this little trick was going to be). By now I had her email address and password fully memorized, so after my shift ended that night I opened the “Find Phone” app on my personal device and logged in with her credentials. The login was successful, and I found myself looking at her device in the menu with the “Unlock” button that had been evading our grasp for the past two months shining like the god-damn Holy Grail. I pressed the button, let the system do its thing, and logged out.
The next day, I gave her a call and asked her to turn the device off and on. When the device powered back on, instead of hearing “Oh no, u/GeetarDood, it’s that awful lock screen again!” I heard her say the usual “Oh, it’s showing my icons… My icons are back u/GeetarDood! You fixed my tablet! It’s working!! I can’t believe it! I can talk to my friends on Facebook again! Thank you so much!”
I am happy to report that she didn’t have to call me again for the rest the time that I spent with FruitCare.