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Apple stung with criticism for inadequate App Store refunds

updated 12:50 pm EDT, Tue October 13, 2009

Policy allows broken apps to survive

Apple is facing new media criticism over the absence of a comprehensive App Store refund policy, most prominently from the New York Times. One writer notes that while people can get refunds if a download is delayed, or not properly executed, it is impossible to get money back based purely on quality complaints. The issue can become serious when dealing with more expensive iPhone apps, such as navigation software. It may also impact people buying less expensive titles which do not work, in spite of Apple's quality assurance.

A separate report observes that an unnamed communications app, costing $2, remains on the App Store despite being non-functional for many users. The situation is said to have been worsened by the release of the iPhone 3.1 firmware, and neither Apple nor the developer have taken any action despite complaints.

Apple has defended its position by pointing to App Store elements designed to aid purchases, such as customer ratings and reviews, and official popularity charts. Critics charge however that Apple should be not only be offering refunds, but limited trial periods, as with some Palm and BlackBerry apps. It is also suggested that the company should ban or suspend developers who have not fixed titles for sale.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. byRyan

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    software

    Ok - buy any software at a retail store... take it home, install it on your computer... say you don't like it, and then try to take it back to the store 'cuz you weren't happy with the way it works.

    see how well that works out.

    this is why I install free apps first, or read reviews.

    and if all else fails, just pay the developer and try it out... if I hate it, well at least it was only a dollar or two. Compare that with retail software that cost $20 minimum, or games which start at $60. If I am unsatisfied with the game controls of Halo3 - I get no refund. why should the iPhone be any different.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    Refunds should be strict and rare

    The problem with refunds is the financial obligation of the developer for spurious reasons that Apple decides. Refunds should be decided by the developer, not Apple.

    Or the best solution is to offer a time-limited demo.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    and...

    it doesn't help the developers when Apple refunds the money for the App, but still insists on keeping their 30%. So refunds cost developers money, but they have no decision making ability with them.

  1. Eldernorm

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -3

    @Software

    "Ok - buy any software at a retail store... take it home, install it on your computer... say you don't like it, and then try to take it back to the store 'cuz you weren't happy with the way it works."

    Totally agree, we are getting pretty weird here when it comes to Apple, are we not?

    And whats up with Apples not having Anti-gravity, or teleportation.??? Shouldn't they be sued for that.???......... I have a wart on my nose... I think I will sue Apple. Shame on them. It must have been caused by this new iPhone thingie I have been ...... thinking about buying. !!

    Some days the people in this world just crack me up.

    Just a thought.
    en

  1. ViktorCode

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -2

    It won't work

    Since you can't force developer to offer time limited free demo the customers won't have any more choice than they have now with feature limited free apps. (If some hothead would want to force that one on every app from every developer - forget it)

    If you want to see how refunds will work out - watch Microsoft's app store. See if it will gain them more quality apps / developers / customers.

  1. bfalchuk

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    Not true

    I've gotten 2. Navigon (wish I didn't get a refund) and some game that wouldn't load and the developer refused to help saying Apple was responsible for the developer's code, not the developer. Riiight. Apple was great about it in both cases.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    Re: and


    Are you saying that when Apple refunds $1.99 to a customer, they still want 30% of $0.00?

    Or are you saying that when Apple refunds $1.99 to a customer, that they then turn around and want the developer to pay them $0.60 (30% of $1.99)?

    Somehow I doubt it either way, but I could be wrong -- there is a first time for everything. ;)


    It has been written up before (here on MacNN, one would think, but certainly in more respectable news outlets) that Apple keeps their 30% of the price of the software when they refund to the user. So, you are talking about them keeping the 60 cents on the $2 app.

    From a developer's appStore contract:

    In the event that Apple refunds any such price to an end-user, You shall reimburse, or grant Apple a credit for, an amount equal to the price for that Licensed Application. Apple will have the right to retain its commission on the sale of that Licensed Application, notwithstanding the refund of the price to the end.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Re: It won't work

    Since you can't force developer to offer time limited free demo the customers won't have any more choice than they have now with feature limited free apps. (If some hothead would want to force that one on every app from every developer - forget it)


    There's a huge difference between 'free, limited apps' and 'time-limited demos'. Many a developer may not want to make a free app to go along with a 'full-feature' version because the limited app may be either too limited, thus offering the user no capability to really try it out, or offers too much capability, thus offering the user no actual need to pay for the 'full-feature' version (because, as we know, if people can get by with free, they will do it, no matter the cost).

    A time-limited demo would be full featured and work for a short period of time (say one or two weeks). After that, the user would have to decide to pay or be gone. And the developer only has to work on one app, not several different versions.

    As for the 'hothead' forcing all apps to offer time-limited versions, I'm assuming you mean Mr. Jobs (who else could force this?). And we know one thing about him: He could give a rats a** what the developers want and don't want.

    In fact, making this a global option would be fairly easy to be done via the appStore, iTunes, and the iPhone OS. Stick a time stamp on the file with the DRM they're already using, and validate that when the user tries to run the app. What could be easier for all involved?

  1. Salty

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    BS

    OK this is just stupid I can't buy software at a store and get a refund, it's final sale. Besides most apps you can just read a review about. Besides consumer complaints about software often are simply because the person's too stupid to work an app properly. I recently had a woman tell me the green call button on her phone didn't work, when in actual fact she wasn't pressing hard enough.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: BS

    Purchasing software at a store is NOT necessarily a final sale. Many software titles (like Apple's OS) have a license agreement that states if you don't agree to the terms of the license, you can return the product for refund. You may not be able to return it to the store, but you can return it to Apple themselves and demand your money back.

    It's the joys of buying software where the license to use it is not visible until you install it. (and, no, they can't get around it with the lame "You agree to the license inside the box by opening the box" because you can't read the license without opening the box).

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