A few weeks ago I bought some software via the Apple Store but changed my mind about wanting the software. I requested a refund, as I have in the past, and they asked for a justification so I gave them one, and they refused again. Out of principle I then cancelled all my app subscription renewals, as well as stopped looking at the Apple book store.
One reason for using the Apple store, rather than buying apps direct from companies, is that reimbursements and more should be simpler. It also means that we have a single point of failure, rather than a dozen. In theory this keeps us safer.
Refunds as a sign of Good Will
Although Apple should refund, or not refund, at its discretion, refunding is a commercial gesture. By this I mean that if we’re browsing through apps, and our curiousity is peaked, then we are more likely to spend, if we know we could get a refund.
Apps on the app store are sometimes, crap, whether for the phone, laptop, or tablet. If we make a mistake then it is usually very easy to undo. and we can keep behaving in a “risky” manner. If a refund is refused, and we make a mistake then we are thrown into the lake of remorse, and our spontaneous habit changes.
The Long Tail of Refusing a Refund
It is over a month since the incident and I have hardly browsed the app store, I have forgotten about Apple Books, and I have not considered getting any apps for the Apple universe. With books the impact is felt immediately but with apps the impact may take up to eleven months to be felt, as apps are cheaper, when bought for a year, than a month.
Although the app cost 30 CHF, the cost of refusing a refund is not 30 CHF, but several hundred francs, in theory. Every app is 30CHF or more per year. Every book is 5-10 CHF. The willingness to get a better version of icloud is 10CHF per month. By refusing 30 CHF, Apple have potentially lost hundreds of francs. They sell devices, but their key revenue stream is services, and if we are given a reason not to contribute to that revenue stream then their model slowly erodes.
It is a raindrop in the pacific ocean.
The more we move to digital the more we are locked in. We are locked in to Amazon with Kindle books, we are locked in to Apple, via the apps we buy either on the phone, laptop or tablet, and we are locked in to android with other products. We can’t jump around like we could before.
There was discussion about Portable web apps, and cloud based services that can be used on any device, without being locked into an OS. This is a good move. I would prefer to use a website on my phone, than be locked into one platform or the other. I want to slide from android, to iOS, to macOS, to Windows, without having to make the decision of which platform to purchase something from.
And finally it is a shame that apps are not developed either for all platforms, or if not, then for the web. This app costs 30 CHF on individual platforms, but 80 for windows and mac. This isn’t much, compared to how much software cost in the past so the issue is not with paying for an app. The issue is with paying for an app, and being locked in. From now on I will buy apps direct from the vendor if possible.