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iPhone upgrade gives woman someone else's photos

A woman goes to an Apple store for an iPhone upgrade to iOS 4. After the upgrade, she discovers someone else's photos and private information on her phone.

Sometimes, genius can be erratic. Even when it's wearing a T-shirt and working in an Apple store.

Maria Avila had an old iPhone. It was time to give it some of that new 4.0 flavor. So she went to her local Apple store in Modesto, Calif., to have the iOS 4 software installed and came back with an installation she hadn't quite expected. Yes, a slide show of strange photos, 110 of them.

Thumbing through her new pictures, Avila told CBS13 in Stockton, Calif.: "I don't know these people."

Her upgraded iPhone seemed to have taken on a new personality. She couldn't send texts. The phone locked up. And then, having discovered the strange pictures, she found new information in her address book. As well as text messages.

CC Randy Lemoine/Flickr

"Someone named George is telling me I love you and we'll meet up in Costco," she told CBS13. Which must have not only been quite scary, but also made her wonder what on earth has happened to romance these days.

Turning her eyes upward to see whether she had not only had her phone upgraded, but perhaps also her whole persona, she looked to find her name and phone number at the top of her iPhone. Instead, she encountered the name and phone number of Marlene Hepner, a resident of Tracy, Calif.

So Avila called Hepner. And when she showed her the pictures that had suddenly appeared on her iPhone, Hepner was rather upset.

There's no words," she told CBS13. "Maria's nice, she called and said there's a problem. What if it had been someone else?"

Naturally, both women remained cool-headed but hot-dialed Apple. Avila told CBS13 that she wasn't entirely amused by Apple's initial suggestion: "Their solution? Get a new phone. Easy for them, cause it's only $300 with an 'upgrade.' I don't have that kind of cash right now."

Apple subsequently told CBS13 that it had contacted both women and is trying to solve the problem, while not exactly being forthcoming as to how this identity-swap might have occurred. What is clear is that Hepner had been to the same Apple store to have her iPhone serviced back in April.

What is also clear is that Avila took her iPhone back to the Apple store, where, she said, they wiped it clean. Her own photos, and other data, are now all gone.

Perhaps Apple's reported offer of a gift card to Hepner (and, reportedly, nothing to Avila) might seem just a little inadequate. Thin, you see, is the line between genius and sadness.