Apple announced last October that its iWork suite would be free for new iPhone, iPad and Mac buyers — but not for existing owners. But as one Australian buyer discovered, Apple’s advertising of the products as “free” in some contexts means you might be able to score a free copy under Australian consumer law even with an older device.
IT consultant Dave Hall noticed that Keynote, Pages and Numbers were listed in the “Top Free Apps” section on the Mac App Store, even though you actually have to pay for them if you haven’t scored a free licence with a new device. That’s problematic for Apple under Australian law, since if an article is advertised at two different prices, sellers are obliged to honour the lower price. In this case, the apps were described as both “free” and $20.99.
Hall contacted Apple support to complain about the issue, and was essentially rebuffed. He then took the issue to NSW Fair Trading. Fair Trading found in his favour, but wasn’t actually able to enforce the finding unless he appeared in Sydney in person for a hearing. However, two weeks later, Apple decided to supply Hall with free codes for the app anyway. As he points out on his blog, this is potentially a tactic anyone could use:
If you live in Australia, you want any of the iWorks apps for free, you aren’t eligible for the up to date program, I suggest that you lodge a complaint with NSW Fair Trading. In your submission include a screenshot of the App Store showing the free apps heading alongside the price for the app/s. I believe that if enough people do this it will result in one of two things happening; Apple will fix the problem with the App Store or Apple will make the apps free for all users after an investigation.
Theoretically, you could also apply this trick with an iOS device, though you have to scroll a bit further into the list of free apps to see it:
Is that worth the effort? I’ll leave that to the reader to decide. We’ve noted a different tactic for scoring a free copy in the past. I’m not entirely sure Apple will change its approach even if lots of people try this: as we’ve covered extensively in the past, it often takes a somewhat cavalier attitude to local consumer law.