Apple announces introduction of two week returns policy allowing European iOS users to return any app without reason

A new 14 day returns policy introduced to users by Apple has developers worried – particularly those that develop short-run titles that can be completed within that time period. The new policy could see the encouragement of a ‘try before you buy’ scenario, where users can buy an app, or a game, complete it quickly and return for a full refund. It could make spending money on the App Store an even more infrequent occurrence.

The move comes via a piece of European legislation that came through in June last year that meant EU iOS users have a ‘right to withdrawal’ – this appears to be Apple’s compliance with those laws.

Games industry attorney Jas Purewal had the following to say on the matter:

“Although many companies including Apple have implemented return policies for EU consumers under new EU consumer laws, in practice it’s unclear how it will actually apply to apps, games or other digital content. This is because the EU consumer laws say that once a consumer has bought ‘digital content’, a retailer is not required to offer a return once that content effectively has been delivered or begun to be used.

“As a result, several companies — even though they are subject to EU law and have similar wording to Apple in their T&Cs — refuse or make difficult digital returns to EU consumers. So, we’ll have to see what this Apple policy change means in practice.”

So, no change after all then? Not quite.

It appears that Apple is going further than the European Commission. To comply, they would only need to refund content that hasn’t been used by the purchaser. The problem is that they are honouring refund requests, even to those who have used the app/listened to the music in question.

On the subject of music, it’s entirely possible that someone could download music off iTunes, ask for a refund, and then still have the music in their iTunes library on their device and their computer.

How Apple will deal with the inevitable angry response from developers and artists remains to be seen.