Why Apple Can’t Refuse App Refund Requests

Why Apple Can’t Refuse App Refund Requests

Over at Gizmodo, there’s a handy guide to how you can try and get a refund through Apple from the App Store for non-functioning apps, a process which does leave you at the mercy of Apple’s digital staff. It’s worth remembering that if an app doesn’t work in the way it’s described, under Australian law you’re entitled to a refund no matter what “conditions” Apple tries to impose.

Apple’s local conditions of sale include this highly dubious assertion:

All sales and rentals of products are final.

Gizmodo commenter David reminds us of a vital point that undermines that assertion: under Australian consumer law, goods have to function in the way they’re described. So if an app claims it can perform a given function and it doesn’t, you’re entitled to a refund. Furthermore, Apple can’t fob the responsibility off on the developer; it handles the sale (having already vetted the app) and it has to handle the refund as well.

That distinction is arguably more useful with productivity apps than with games. Whether a given title is “fun” is debatable, but whether “this application does not function as expected” is more clear cut, at least in terms of how it is promoted on the Apple store

Apple has a very sound reputation overall for customer service, but there are documented instances of its trying to argue that its own policies trump local consumer law. That simply isn’t the case. If an app doesn’t work as described, you’re entitled to apply for a refund.


  • Being entitled to a refund doesn’t automatically make it happen though. You may have a right in the eyes of the law, but you’ll have to jump through a hell of a lot of hoops in some circumstances, even just to actually get someone to respond to your request.

  • Apple also try to do the same with hardware purchases. For example, a friend purchased a new iPod Touch from . It was in a factory-sealed box. Exited the store, and while waiting patiently for She Who Must Be Obeyed to complete her shopping activities, he opened the box. Screen had a large crack in it (unusual, yes).

    Took it back in and Large Department Store said “It’s a condition of our Apple dealership that all requests for refund go back to Apple for examination before we issue a refund”. Sorry, not good enough. Eventually he got his refund after thumping the counter a few times.

    Apple (and many resellers) will say that Apple’s policies surplant Australian Consumer Law, which just ain’t so. Take the ACCC’s recent ruling that all mobile phones supplied as part of a 24 month contract WILL carry a 24 month warranty. Apple try to dodge this all the time.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!