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How to Get an App Refund From Apple

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I'm almost an Apple fanboy.  I think that they make fantastic computers and that their software is intuitive to use.  They've revolutionised the way we use technology at least three times and their software, well, it just works

It's not all rosy, though. Apple can, and does, make mistakes.  And then there's the issue of In-App Purchases, or IAP.  In this tutorial I'll show you how to go about getting a refund from Apple.

All Sales Are Final

You have the right to withdraw from your transaction without charge and without giving any reason until delivery of the product has started. You do not have the right to withdraw from a transaction once delivery of the product has started at which point your transaction is final. The Stores’ services commence immediately when you begin to download a product from the relevant Store and you will not have a right to cancel your contract once the services commence unless you have received an unacceptably poor download. If this happens, you must tell us as soon as possible. Apple Terms and Conditions of Sale

In plain English, Apple is saying that all sales are final and a sale is made at the point you begin to download a product.   There is no right to cancel unless you have received an unacceptably poor download.  Time is of the essence in informing Apple.

Unlike the Google Play Store's 15-minute cooling-off period for Android users, Apple users can not download something, change their mind and then demand a refund.  It does not work like this.

Mistakes Happen

This is a salutory lesson. Always check your receipts and don't rely on big companies, such as Apple, getting it right.  Sometimes they get it wrong.

As can be seen in the following receipt that I received for an in-app purchased for Byword on the Mac.  Byword is a fantastic app: a markdown text editor that I am using, right now, to compose this tutorial.

It offers additional functionality on purchase of a single IAP.  For which I appear to have been charged twice.

Receipt with charges duplication error

Report the Problem 

If you are checking your receipts and you spot an error, the easiest way to start the process to request a refund is to click on the Report a Problem link in the email receipt.

Reporting the Problem Without the Receipt

Report a problem via Apple's website

There may be an occasion when you are unable to find your email receipt.  Whatever the reason, it is still possible to request a refund without the receipt email.

To do this, enter the following address in your preferred web browser: reportaproblem.apple.com and press Return.

The web page informs you: To report a problem with iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, or Mac App Store purchases made in the last 90 days, sign in with your Apple ID. For help with older purchases, contact iTunes Store Support.

Select the App

Once logged into Apple's website, you will be able to view a list of app downloads, purchases and upgrades that have occurred in the last 90 days.

You can also use the Search field to locate an app quickly.

You can view the last 90 days worth of downloads and purchases

Grounds for Requesting a Refund

Select the grounds for your issue or complaint

On requesting a refund, Apple asks you to categorise the reason for your requestfrom the options listed belowand to provide a description of the problem.

  • I didn't authorise this purchase
  • Didn't mean to purchase this item
  • Meant to purchase a different item
  • Item didn't download or can't be found
  • Item won't install or downloads too slowly
  • Item opens but doesn't function as expected
  • Problem is not listed here

When you have chosen the most appropriate option, enter a description of your issue in the free text field.

If you selected either I didn't authorise this purchase or Item didn't download or can't be found you will be asked to report in the following ways:

I Didn't Authorise this Purchase

Select the appropriate criterion

Apple's model of free apps with in-app purchases, or IAP, has become increasingly controversial.  Some unscrupulous developers create apps that require the purchase of credits or similar in order to enable functionality.  

This is especially true in some apps that are designed for children.  There have been several high-profile instances of people running up huge bills as a result of IAP.

This is the option to select if you did not authorise an app, or IAP, purchase.  Apple will tell you:

We take account security seriously.

If you were charged without your authorization, we'd like to help you as soon as possible. Visit iTunes Store Support to find out which contact methods are available for immediate assistance.

Click on the iTunes Store Support button for further assistance from Apple.

Item Didn't Download or Can't be Found

Select the appropriate criterion

If your app did not download you can try again at another time.  If you are still having issues trying to download it, report the issue to Apple.  Their website will advise you:

When you buy from iTunes, iTunes in the Cloud stores your purchase history. You can download any available eligible previously purchased content to any of your associated computers or devices from your Purchased page.

To select the app with which you are having an issue, click View Purchases. For additional help with an item, contact iTunes Store Support.

Web Contact

Following the submission of your issue, a message is displayed: An iTunes Support Advisor will contact you within 48 hours via the email address associated with this Apple ID to resolve your request.

Web Chat

If you are offered the option to engage in a web chat, you will be connected to an Apple representative you will be able to help with your enquiry.

Apple's web chat puts you in touch with an Apple representative

Common Issues

iTunes Store Errors 

Before firing off an enquiry to Apple, the support pages might shed light on your query.  In respect of iTunes Store errors, it's worth having a look at the support pages for Mac or Windows.

How to Resume Interrupted iTunes Store Downloads

If ever a download gets interrupted, for any reason, Apple suggests how to resume interrupted iTunes Store downloads.

Conclusion

Errors sometimes, if rarely, occur and it is useful to know that there is help if you need it.  If you think that you have been incorrectly charged for an app, this tutorial has shown you how to go about seeking a refund.  

You'll need to remember that Apple does not appear to consider any purchases that are more than 90 days old, though.

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