Apple will not refund money on killed iTunes apps

After Nullriver's Netshare iPhone tethering app was pulled from iTunes, one customer tried to get a refund. According to Apple Support:

All iTunes purchases are final, and I am unable to refund you for the app.

You will need to contact NetShare directly, as this is there [sic] product and we can do nothing with it.

So here's how it works from Apple's perspective: they approve an app from the App Store. People buy it, and Apple takes a 30% cut. Then Apple decides to pull the same app they already approved from the App Store, but disavow responsibility for issuing a refund on it: take it up with the developer. They profit on their own fuck up, while expecting developers who'd been lead to believe their App was fine to take a 30% loss.

It should be noted Nullriver didn't act particularly well here either: their website claimed that they gave full refunds for all products and the wording only changed after Netshare customers started writing in, trying to take them up on it. They should honor that wording, but it's pretty clear it's just an issue of not changing some HTML copy when they branched out onto iTunes. It's not nearly as evil as Apple's position on the matter, where they expect to profit not only from their successes, but their blunders.

As Joel notes, with behavior like this and the existence of an iPhone app kill switch, the reason to continue Jailbreaking iPhones are more and more obvious. Hopefully, as the App Store approval process becomes perfected, less issues like this will arise. But even so, Apple's position — that they will not refund you your money even when they're the ones who have FUBARed — makes a good case for not giving them your money at all.

Apple and Nullriver Ripping Off Customers [Horrid Voices]

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  1. What I don’t quite understand is:

    If you bought the app before it was pulled off the store, that means you actually own it and can use it, right? So what would justify a refund (except if Apple pulled the killswitch on that specific app).
    I don’t see how discontinuing the sale of a product qualifies buyers of said product for a refund.

  2. Well, Apple’s saying it violates the Terms of Service of the App Store and AT&T. In other words, continuing to use it can get you dinged… theoretically, you could lose your contract. So if you want to be on the up and up with your contract, you can’t use it.

    I understand your point — I wouldn’t think twice about it — but buying something from Apple that is TOS-violating is certainly a refundable position for those who want to be strictly in their carrier’s good books.

  3. Maybe because Apple has supposedly tested the app and is therefore guaranteeing functionality. Apple pulling the app would indicate a problem with the app. Both companies should provide a complete refund.

    Either that or Apple provides a paid service to developers, allowing them to sell their apps without restrictions or testing, and minus Apple’s imprimatur. This service would then charge a set fee per download for any app, like iTunes.

  4. Apple: You are naughty children who want to run naughty applications.

    AT&T: You’re all terrorists.

    Remind me again why I’m supposed to want an iPhone?

  5. Sure did want an iPhone.

    Sure don’t want one anymore.

    I will stick with my blackberry thankyou very much.

  6. I have an iphone and i don’t deal with AT&T nor do i pay anything for apps or get them through the app store.

  7. Yes, Apple also applies hardcore capitalist cheap techniques, even in the ultra first world company you see this, also, why isn’t there much coverage on the bad screens on the 17″ Powerbooks?, why there is still lots of people buying them even when Apple never recalled the computers?. Steve Jobs has everyone at his feet.

  8. Yeah, this is pretty weak, and definitely an encouragement to cast of the shackles of Apple tyranny.

    If NetShare continues to work, then, eh. You bought it. It works as advertised. No problem, right? But if it’s killed or otherwise made broken, then, yeah, you deserve a full refund.

    It’s something that’s certainly on my mind. If I buy some app on the iTunes app store, and then apple releases a new firmware and the app breaks, what recourse have I got? This is a major reason why I’m extremely skittish about buying ANYTHING for money on the app store, or DRM’d electronic media in general, for that matter. And that’s not even getting into their apparent denial of the first sale doctrine for apps.

  9. “It should be noted Nullriver didn’t act particularly well here either: their website claimed that they gave full refunds for all products and the wording only changed after Netshare customers started writing in, trying to take them up on it.”

    Um, isn’t that illegal? Am I missing something here?

  10. All windows based smartphones for sale in ATT stores are tether-able via …..

    Why Apple? Why do you side with big biz over your loyal customers?

    Daemon is right

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