problem: you are trying to login to an Apple ID and get forced into a workflow that wants you to change your Apple ID
I was able to login to the Apple ID via iTunes and via iOS Mail app. When I tried via https://appleid.apple.com or https://icloud.com I was forced into a workflow that wanted me to change my Apple ID.
Verify your email address. Your Apple ID email address must be verified before you can sign in. Verify the address below or choose a different address to use as your Apple ID.
If I filled in a valid email in the form I got an email which said:
You have recently selected email@example.com as your new Apple ID.
... and asked me to verify the email address with a code:
impact: I didn't want to change the Apple ID?
This forced workflow was forcing me to change the AppleID but that wasn't my wish or objective.
I wanted to login and check some account details, and perform some house-keeping.
The Apple ID in question could be considered legacy. It was using the @mac.com domain and was created ~2009. The account didn't have 2FA enabled - 2FA was not mainstream back then.
See a related help article here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201771. The point that most likely applied to this Apple ID was:
If you had a working @mac.com email address as of July 9, 2008, kept your MobileMe account active, and moved to iCloud before August 1, 2012, you can use @icloud.com, @me.com, and @mac.com email addresses with your iCloud account.
After following the forced workflow and logging in via https://icloud.com and clicking the Mail app, I got the prompt:
iCloud Email Needed
To use iCloud Mail, create a new email address by turning on Mail in your iCloud settings using iOS or macOS.
This would suggest the account lost email capabilities at some point or never had email capabilities.
solution: Unfortunately there wasn't a solution
I had to accept the forced workflow and change the Apple ID. Apple provided this link via twitter DM and it was useful for quickly getting me talking to a human: https://apple.co/AppleIDSupport.
Here is the feedback I left apple support via their post support survey, which might help someone else in the future:
I spent a few hours in various chats and calls with apple support advisors today, trying to find answers/solutions to my issue, so here is some feedback which you might be able to put to good use? I hope it helps.
I had an old mac.com appleid created around ~2008 and last used ~2011. The account had been dormant for many years. I found the credentials and wanted to see what was in the account, purchases any email etc. In the attempts to login via the web browser I was forced in to a "confirm your appleid email address" flow.
This gave the prompt: "Verify your email address. Your Apple ID email address must be verified before you can sign in. Verify the address below or choose a different address to use as your Apple ID."
This message is fairly self-explanatory but what wasn't clarified is "what are the consequences of performing the step?". I had to go through many rounds of trial and error before finally accepting the fate that this old appleid was being force-changed to a valid email.
Prior to going through the forced change workflow I was able to login to the account via iTunes and also via iOS mail app. It was counter intuitive why I could login successfully on those apps but not via the website appleid.apple.com or icloud.com. On the iOS mail app account screen I could see the appleid, and there was a correct and working primary email already listed on the account. So it did seem the account and primary email was verified at some point in the past.
There was no mention of the fact the mac.com mailbox didn't exist anymore (or perhaps never existed?) - I tested this myself, mail server response: 550 5.1.1 <firstname.lastname@example.org>: user does not exist.
I tried to use email@example.com to login but this wasn't successful.
In the forced workflow there was no explanation why I was being forced through this workflow - why would email verification - which would of been done in the past... cause a change of the apple id?
After accepting there was no other way around this forced workflow, I used the same email as the primary email to see what would happen. I received an email that including the sentence: "You have recently selected firstname.lastname@example.org as your new Apple ID." This is again confirming that I was being forced to change the appleid but all I wanted was to login to the old account, which already had a valid primary email address... I wasn't trying nor wanting to change the appleid.
Support could only suggest to trial and error the process and see what happened - so while the support was very good overall, and easy to get in touch with, they were not ready to deal with this issue. I was able to run a remote screen applecare session and demo the issue to support - still they were stumped like me.
I would suggest for accounts that are forced into this workflow - more details are needed on "why" and "what happens next" and "consequences". Or just have those accounts directed to support with a specific error code so it can be gracefully handled on the backend?
"Your appleid is legacy and no longer supported or valid - it must be changed" - "apple uses email addresses as the appleid and therefore the email must be validated" etc. This sort of language would of been very useful and removed my concerns and need to contact support to try and figure out what was going on.
I was impressed by the support provided via chat and phone and the available help articles. The ease of getting support was refreshing - most companies hide human support really well but apple made humans easily accessible. I'd never done applecare remote screen thing before and I was really impressed by that - the concept is not new to me but to see it work so effortlessly was impressive. It shows thought and care has gone into engineering support and providing high quality and useful support.
One tip on the request call back form - don't limit the country code selection based on the website region setting, make a suggestion but don't limit the selection. Limiting can often be wrong and in conflict of the number that the person wants to be called on. It might be best to offer a drop down for "what language would like to speak on the call" - to help route the call to a relevant support advisor?
There was some issues with the chat - at least twice I got the message "Your chat ended because of a temporary system issue. Please wait while we connect you with the next available Advisor." and was changed to a different advisor - this cost a lot of unnecessary time wastage trying to clarify things.