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Should Apple make refunds easier for App Store purchases where the buyer was tricked?



Last week I helped a non-tech savvy friend of mine get started with his 1st Apple product. He got an iPad for Christmas and couldn’t get it activated. He had a multitude of problems where iTunes wasn’t seeing the iPad when he connected it. We got his iPad activated and updated to the most current release of iOS.

I was working on some other things while he was scouring iTunes to find apps he though he and his wife would need. It was no surprise that he downloaded Angry Birds 1st. After about 30 minutes or so, he was done buying and downloading and I proceeded to show him how to set up syncing. Let me remind you that this was his first experience with any Apple device and his 1st time using the App Store or iTunes. Well, we got his iPad all synched up and he starts trying out the apps. When he tried out one certain app, we were both shocked.

He opened Microsoft Office 2010 Professional app he thought he purchased and BOOM… an eBook? What?

He searched for Microsoft Office and came up with the following result:

As you can see, Microsoft Office 2010 Pr… was listed. Office 2010 box art, copyright symbols, and high price made him believe this was Microsoft Office 2010 Professional. I can see where he could make this mistake. If you don’t check ratings, reviews, and full listings it’s an easy mistake to make.

After he called me over to let me know, we checked out the listing and it’s not the 1st time this carefully crafted listing got someone. I would give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume that they didn’t list this book in a way that could confuse buyers on purpose, but something has changed since my friend made his mistake… THE PRICE. The price was ~$15 last week when he made this mistake and today it’s up to almost $23. My guess is that the author saw how many suckers he was luring in with the title that he decided to capitalize on their mistakes even more. How many people even try to get refunds. Apple makes the process tough and generally it’s not worth the effort for an app that cost $2.99 or less. My friend isn’t even trying to get a refund. He said he’ll just learn from this and move on.

Should Apple be more involved in things like this? Should they require the author to place [Book] or something before the title? Should authors of Apps that seem to be intentionally taking of customers like this one be penalized or banned from the App Store? Should Apple give refunds easier for mistakes like this? I realize that many customers wouldn’t make a mistake like the one that got my friend, but I am sure there are many that have been victimized by simple things like this one.



  1. Wyngo Masala

    01/24/2012 at 6:33 pm

    If the offending app icon had resembled any app or other software published by Apple, they probably wouldn’t be let in the App Store. But it resembles Microsoft software, so it’s OK.

    • Emils Roze Ozols

      01/24/2012 at 11:56 pm

      Not completely true. The iPad doesnt come with a calculator, clock or voice app like the other iDevices do, but I was able to find a voice recorder and a calculator app in the app store with nearly identical icons to Apple’s apps. The calculator app even copies the same button colors and layout as Apple’s app.
      Search for these yourself – Calculator Pro and QuickVoice
      I’m certain there’s lots more where those came from

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