Apple Now Offering 14-Day No Questions Asked Refunds For iTunes and iBooks Purchases In The EU

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Update 13 January: 9To5Mac reports that some users - presumably those with an excessive number of refunds on file with Apple - are now receiving a notification when they attempt to make purchases. They are being prompted to agree with the dialog before they can proceed with the purchase. By doing so, they essentially forfeit their right to ask for a refund.

The notice states:

I acknowledge that if I download this app within 14 days of tapping ‘Buy’, I will no longer be eligible to cancel this purchase.

It is unknown what parameters trigger this dialog, but it is likely that you won’t see it unless you blatantly abuse this new refund policy.

Original Post: 9to5Mac and MacRumors report that Apple has introduced a new 14-day no questions asked return policy for iTunes, App Store and iBooks purchases in some European countries, including the UK, Germany, Italy and France.

This can only be described as tremendous news for VoiceOver users in these countries, who will now no longer find themselves out of pocket for inaccessible apps.

Previously, purchases were legally binding once the download was initiated, with Apple offering no official policy on refunds for apps which proved to be inaccessible with VoiceOver. However, many people were able to obtain refunds for inaccessible apps, although this could often depend upon who you spoke with at Apple and how well they understood how VoiceOver worked.

Now, Apple has updated its terms to include a specific no questions asked 14-day return window that includes all purchases apart from gift cards:

Right of cancellation: If you choose to cancel your order, you may do so within 14 days from when you received your receipt without giving any reason, except iTunes Gifts which cannot be refunded once you have redeemed the code.

Apple states that it will refund users within two weeks of receiving notice of cancellation either through its Report a Problem feature or a written statement.

The changes appear to be related to a new consumer rights directive in the European Union that introduced a required 14 calendar day right of cancellation or return period for both goods and services purchased in EAA countries.

We can only hope that VoiceOver users outside of Europe will soon be able to take advantage of similar entitlement.

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16 Comments

#1 Apple offering 14 day refund, no questins asked

This is great news. I hope we get it in the States soon. I haven't lost money on inaccessible apps but I imagine many people have.

#2 Off the cuff suggestion

This is excellent news, especially as I'm in Scotland. Maybe we could set up a section on here where people like myself in the EU could assess apps and report our findings or on request from people outside the EU? It might be ripping the backside out of the new legislation but why not use it to everyone in the Applevis community's Advantage?

#3 I Love This

This is so cool. I haven't downloaded many apps thus far, but the 2 that I have on my MacBook are very accessible with VoiceOver. The apps to which I'm referring are Serotek's iBlink Radio and Battery Monitor from Marcel Bresink. But still, I think this is a step in the right direction from a mainstream company who truly does care about accessibility and really gets it. Way to go Apple!

#4 Fair use of this policy

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Macky, we wouldn’t do anything on here which would encourage people to systematically abuse this new policy.

If this change in policy gives people the opportunity to get their money back for an inaccessible app, that’s great. However, the new policy is so open to abuse that you have to assume that Apple will have some mechanism in place to identify those who are clearly crossing the line. We can only guess at what action they might take. The fact that this is supposedly a ‘no questions asked’ entitlement should theoretically limit what they can do, but you can expect that they will want to do something to deter those who will try to treat Apple as if it were effectively now a free lending library for movies, books, music and games.

#5 apple and refunds

I should point out that this is probably not apple's idea but forced into it by EU legislation. I know that other companies IE google and Microsoft have also been forced into altering policy such as google offering the right to be forgotten as stipulated by EU legislation governing online activities by corporations. Although it is difficult to know for certain, I highly doubt apple would ever have done this independently as this is very "unApple" like.

#6 14-day no questions refund for inaccessible Apps

Hi,

I'm currently living in Portugal. Does this 14-day no questions refund apply to Apps from this country or not? I hope that blind and visually impaired Apple device users in Portugal will benefit from this new legislation in the European Union.

#7 FYI: I'm Blacklisted

Here's the posting I just sent to MacVisionaries. Watch out, you could be next. I've lost confidence in this policy as a strategy, regardless:

I'm Blacklisted From EU Right of Withdrawal Refunds

Whether temporarily or permanently, I don’t yet know, but it would appear that Apple have blacklisted me from no-questions-asked refunds, as described here:
http://readwrite.com/2015/01/13/apple-blocks-app-store-refund-abusers

I’ve only used the facility once to return an inaccessible Mac app from the MAS. However, it seems that after a justified refund of an iOS app, now in progress, which I explicitly indicated was for accessibility reasons, my account is in the blacklisted state and I can no longer buy apps without waving my rights (which I’m fairly sure verges on the illegal if not actually).

If you are hoping, as I was, that this refund process might help you rightfully return digital products that are not fit for purpose because they are inaccessible, you might have to think again. I’d just arranged things to make more use of this feature, by turning off automatic downloads and removing every app from my devices and iTunes, with the intention of testing every incoming app and ultimately ending up only with those apps which should justifiably be on my devices and on my account because they were accessible. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be possible now. I of course think it should. We shouldn’t be paying for apps which aren’t accessible, merely because it’s easy to do so and hard to avoid.

I’ll let you know if my account ever ceases to be blacklisted. If you have any information, let me know. It’s entirely possible the normal state of affairs will resume after my outstanding refund is complete, but I’d love to hear if anyone else has had this issue after just two refunds.

Cheers,

Sabahattin

#8 Pity Apple reacted so badly after only 2 refund requests!

Hi! I'm sorry to hear that the author of the previous post was blacklisted by Apple after only asking for two refunds. I would understand their reaction if you'd asked for a huge number of refunds, but asking for only two is not abuse of the system, I don't think so anyway. Maybe asking for another refund very soon after asking for the first one might conceivably be suspicious from Apple's point of view, since they might fear that this could be the beginning of the slippery slope towards abuse of the system, but that's just a theory, and I definitely don't think such over-reaction is right. Obviously, it's different if people really abuse the system by demanding dozens of refunds very close to each other, but I doubt many people would do that. I've asked for just one refund myself since the new policy was introduced in the EU, and that went fine, but after reading the post before mine on this thread I may be wary of asking for more refunds in the future. By the way, to end on a more positive note, as portugal is in the European Union, Apple customers there will also benefit from this refunds policy, just as I do in France.

#9 Thoughts

Club AppleVis Member

Why on earth would you offer refunds to music or movie purchases? I understand the stated reason that kids are often buying things on phones they shouldn't be, and that might constitute the need for a refund. However, it is not Apple's fault that the kid purchased something they shouldn't. I'm definitely in favor of a refund policy for some Apple items, but seriously it is so laughably easy to abuse the system the way it is now. I feel for the above user who has been blacklisted, and I think maybe if you call to Apple maybe you can straighten out the issue. Again, it'sa shame that a few morons have to ruin it for the rest of Apple's customers. Oh, and all of this is being written by someone who doesn't have access to the refund system.

#10 Is Apple blacklisting or simply stopping refunds?

I ask the question in the subject line of this current post because I have also been denied the right to refunds when making an iTunes purchase about an hour before writing this current post. I have only made one refund request, back in March 2015, for an app I had bought at the time which turned out to be inaccessible, and have made no other refund request since: in fact, I have been happy with all my purchases, apps and in-app purchases from the App Store, music from iTunes, and a book or two from iBooks, all of which went through without the slightest incident till today. However, when I bought yet another album from iTunes today, I got a pop-up notice in iTunes on my computer where I made the purchase, giving me the choice of losing the right to future refunds or cancelling the purchase: I decided to purchase the album in question, so that means no more refunds for me, but to be fair we all managed without refunds in the past, so we can do so again. Nevertheless, I still wonder whether I have also been blacklisted, or whether Apple has simply decided to ignore European Union law and give up on the refunds policy. If the latter is the case, I can think of two possible reasons: either Apple is fed up of abuses of the refund system, or they want the whole world to have the same system as regards purchases, since non-Europeans probably consider it unfair that people in EU countries can get refunds while they can't. I have no idea which of my theories is true, but one thing is for sure, I will never ask for a refund for an Apple purchase again.

#11 An interesting possibility

Club AppleVis Member

Before this whole refund thing began, wasn't there a way to go through Apple directly to get refunds for inaccessible apps for those who use Voiceover? I'm wondering if that might not be the way to go in the future.

#12 In Catching Up

Apple completed my "Report a Problem" (anyone know where the link for that is actually displayed?) refund request. I have the purchase price of my second app back. This is good. I will now be on the lookout for continued "You are denied" prompts when making future purchases, which as Clare pointed out, I will now have to be extra careful about. Is a great shame, really. Sorry to hear you were hit as well, Clare.

I think it's only fair to acknowledge that this policy can indeed be abused: people with absolutely no discretion whatsoever can return products after they have performed whatever function they were bought for, or as a way to try the product and then return it not for any legitimate reason that the buyer has but simply that they disliked it. And it's only fair to point out that, DRM and Apple's automatic download function after purchase notwithstanding, Apple really is already going above and beyond what the Consumer Rights Directive says is required, by allowing the refund to be processed after the download. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the CRD is there for the consumer, and Apple is obligated to ensure that people don't have reasons to withdraw. Apple shouldn't be seeking "Protection" from this law, using this crappy exception that proves to be a rule. I understand that those outside the EU are potentially hurt by this, but the solution is for those states to stop worshipping corporations and give the consumers the just powers they deserve. Get to work on your politicians, guys.

Going forward: yes, it is possible to request refunds, however I think the fact that it doesn't always work, not even for accessibility reasons, is pretty well established, which for all practical purposes means that your freedom is going to be limited: either purchase and take the gamble, or don't purchase at all and lose out on the possibility that the app promises. It's not a good situation really. I just hope that the refund situation resolves itself in the fullness of time, or at least that Apple finally accepts the challenges faced by those with accessibility needs when purchasing on its stores, because we really are at a disadvantage here.

#13 Apple have to comply with the law

and if it turns out they are automatically blacklisting anyone who makes a refund request in an effort to circumvent European legislation then they'll probably get themselves into hot water sooner or later. I'd would suggest the bodies responsible for European Consumer regulations would want to know about instances like these. If an app is inaccessible and so is not fit for the buyers purpose it seems reasonable to expect a refund if the law provides for it.

#14 Right, Well ...

Whatever the situation is, it isn't specific to just a couple of users on this board: my brother's reported it now as well, and only yesterday he wasn't seeing it.

So, gosh, something's going on.

#15 I two have begun experiencing

I two have begun experiencing the same issue, I only have two refunds on my account, the first from 2012 I believe and the second from a few weeks ago for that rather laughable blind community app.
I only started seeing the popup about waving rights after this refund, what I find particularly galling is that I can't buy anything unless I wave my rights, and I find the popup intrusive it means buying an app is now a tedious iinconvenient two step process.
I spoke to iTunes to someone who was apparently senior but who sounded like she couldn't care less, and she said that the popup exists because its something to do with the law that we have to be told about withdrawal of our rights.
she did say that apple will consider refund requests on a case by case basis.
I find this popup so annoying I would almost be tempted to delete my apple id an start over as there aren't two many purchases on it, but I am not shelling out again for knfb reader on a fresh ID.
I was also told that you will get this popup even after only one refund. so it sounds like apple is grudgingly offering refunds but forcing you to wave your automatic rights as soon as you cancel a purchase. I wonder who the correct EU body might be to complain to about this or at least inform, as I was never told after the refund that this was even a possibility, so surely I have unknowingly given up my rights after the last refund if that makes sense. and of course the cancel purchase option disappears from your account entirely, so it sounds like first strike its automatic no questions asked, then that's it, bang rights gone. I actually think this article should be retitled, as its not a no questions asked policy after the first refund.

#16 I've just discovered that

I've just discovered that this doesn't actually work. I purchased something 11 days ago and tried to cancel and it just says "we have determined that this does not qualify for a refund" with no further explanation.

So it's completely pointless.