Apple might finally be addressing scam subscription apps

App Store icon
App Store icon (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has rejected an app over claims the prices charged in the subscription fees did not reflect the value of its content.
  • Sent in error, the email could still indicate Apple is taking a tougher line on apps that charge high fees with little to no value.

At least one developer has had an app rejected by Apple for having subscription fees that were too high, suggesting Apple may be taking a tougher stance on the practice.

As noted by ilia kukharev:

Now confirmed: Apple is rejecting apps with irrationally high prices for in-apps and subscriptions.You have to explain why are you charging like $7.99 per week. Because of using 3rd-party paid services, or something similar.

First noted in a tweet yesterday (now deleted), ilia shared an email from App Store review, in which Apple noted that developer guidelines clearly state that developers should not attempt to rip-off or cheat users in any way. App Store Review noted, "the prices you've selected for your app or in-app purchase products in your app do not reflect the value of the features and content offered to the user". The email then lists specific redacted prices, before calling on the developer to revise the app to provide more value to the user at the time of purchase, or to lower the price.

As reported by 9to5Mac, it seems this email was actually sent in error:

In contact with the developer of the rejected app, we were able to verify the authenticity of the rejection email from Apple. Unfortunately in this case, it seems clear that the rejection was a mistake. The developer was able to work with the app review team and eventually got their app approved by explaining that the subscription price was justified because the app employed paid APIs to perform its tasks. Just as with many other items in the guidelines, it's possible for the review team at Apple to encounter false positives that lead to wrongful rejections of apps, which highlights why moderating the App Store is such a complicated task.

The news does however follow Apple's decision to remove a $300k/month scam app from the App Store, charging extortionate subscription fees to unsuspecting users. Whilst the developer of that app still has other apps on the App Store, the events could signal that Apple is taking a harder line on this sort of thing.

Rule 3 of the App Store guidelines has been in effect for some time now, but as one developer speaking to iMore noted, the practice has not been well enforced.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9