Apple "No Refunds" Policy For Better & Worse

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Apple's "no refunds" policy for iPhone App Store purchase is both not as bad--and worse--than it sounds. Readers say Apple occasionally gives refunds, but also complain that Apple's own updates break apps for which no refunds are given.

These readers were replying to a story about the no-refunds policy I posted earlier today.

One reader said he got a refund for applications purchased that did not function with VoiceOver, an accessibility application used by the visually disabled.

"I sent a long and stern letter detailing the inadequacies of the app store for the blind community and how it was clearly unjust to force people to pay for applications that are completely unusable on their devices," the reader wrote in an e-mail.

"The result? Somewhat surprisingly, they promptly refunded the price of all the applications I had listed without any trouble at all. Clearly, their draconian refund policy is not set in stone and they are willing to consider requests on a case-by-case basis at least some of the time."

Another reader warned that sometimes Apple itself is to blame for non-functional apps, but offers no help in those cases.

"A problem that was not mentioned is that every time Apple updates firmware, as in v3.0 upgrade, an app can be broken," the reader wrote.

"A year ago, I bought a language app for $25. Today it is not working properly because of the update and Apple would not refund my money. The developer says they sent an update but Apple has not approved it.

"So, Apple can, at their discretion, keep an app from working properly and keep the money."

Still another reader says, "don't worry" because now that the refund issue has made the New York Times, lawyers will doubtless soon come to the rescue.

"Sounds like a bonanza for a class action lawyer," the reader wrote.

"The implied warrantee of fitness/merchantability means Apple is breaking the law when it does not refund the price on apps that don't work. This is not something Apple's lawyers can defend against!"

"The end result usually is that there is a large settlement; a huge percentage goes to the lawyers, and since "individual compensation is too cumbersome," the rest is sent to some charity," according to the reader.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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