iPhone App Refund Policy Inconsistent

Dennis Faas's picture

Apple has been criticized over its refusal to refund users who buy iPhone applications ("app") that don't work properly. In most cases, the firm only gives refunds if the app fails to download correctly, but not if the app itself is faulty.

The issue gained attention when it was raised by New York Times blog writer Eric Taub. He complained that the refund policy means users don't have any opportunity to try an app and get their money back if it is of poor quality. (Source: nytimes.com)

Apple Refusing Refunds for Broken Apps

However, David Coursey of PC World notes that in some cases Apple refuses to give refunds even if the app is flat-out broken. He cites an application whose developer admitted that it doesn't work, and yet Apple continues to allow him to sell it (and takes its own cut of the profits).

Coursey says readers have contacted him to say that Apple has on occasion given refunds where an app is incompatible with screen-reading software. However, it's suggested that Apple may be acting out of fear of contravening disability discrimination laws rather than as a general refund policy.

Coursey also notes other readers have been refused refunds when a functioning app stops working after Apple updates the operating system on the iPhone. In that case, there is some debate over who is responsible for the problem; still, there is little recourse for the customer. (Source: pcworld.com)

Refunds, App Approval Process Inconsistent

According to Apple's terms and conditions, the only reason it will give a refund is where "technical problems may delay or prevent delivery of your product." Of course, depending on local laws, contracts don't have priority over legal consumer rights. That means that many buyers could stand a good chance of getting a court to order a refund. Unfortunately, that's a lengthy and expensive process and the time and money spent will almost certainly outweigh the cost of the app.

The issue also brings into question the quality of Apple's approval program for application. While it vets apps to make sure they are compatible with the system and either appropriate to a general audience or restricted for sale to adults, there have been repeated complaints that the approval process is inconsistent. (Source: tuaw.com)

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