Developers being hit with bulk app refunds years after purchase

It appears that some app developers are experiencing a perplexing problem regarding App Store refunds. In particular, Apple seems to be allowing huge numbers of app refunds years after their purchase via educational discounts.

As reported by Mac developer Michael Tsai on his personal blog, at least some refunds appear to be related to copies of apps bought in bulk for educational users. In the case of Air Display 2 developer Dave Howell, for example, 500 copies of the app were refunded without explanation nearly two years after they were sold.

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And Howell isn't alone; iOS game developer Little White Bear has also reported seeing bulk refunds occur on educational purchases after two years. Interestingly, Tapbots developer Paul Haddad reports that delayed refunds aren't limited to educational purchases; individual purchases have shown up years down the road as well.

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It's unclear how widespread the problem is, but having to issue refunds years down the line without explanation — especially in bulk — would be problematic for any developer.

Are you a developer who has seen this happen with your app? If so, share your experience in the comments below!

17 Comments
  • I think apps that have been purchased and no longer work she be at least partially refunded and taken off the App Store completely Sent from the iMore App
  • While it can be frustrating when an app or service no longer works, it would seem crazy to say that someone should be able to return their house because it feels drafty when a newer, more efficient form of insulation comes out, but won't work with your current home. (That analogy doesn't complete map over 1-to-1, though I feel it still applies.)
  • That analogy doesn't map over at all. If you did want to map it over 1-to-1, it would be someone wanting to return their house because when they got back to it, it was a pile of rubble on the ground, nothing works anymore. If you can't even open an app without it crashing, that's the equivalent
  • In that case, I want a refund for all software & operating systems I ever purchased that don't run on my current machines. Sent from the iMore App
  • Most software gets updates to ensure that they don't stop working, otherwise it's the sign of a bad developer and probably should be refunded. As for operating systems that's a different ballgame, it's an incredibly large effort to make an operating system, and an incredibly large effort to upgrade them and continue making them work on older machines, this is hardly the case with App Store apps. If an app stops working on the App Store and the developer doesn't fix it, you should get a refund, otherwise you've basically bought a "trial", even if that trial was 3 years long. I still use some old App Store apps which as a result of good developers have been continuously updated, such as Shazam, which I bought on my iPhone 3G. It still works today, as it should, and if it didn't I would want a refund
  • I agree! Especially from loser developers like Melesta who turned a PAID app into an app full of ads. I paid $5 for their apps (x4 = $20) and one by one, ads got into the app where I can't even play the game without first viewing the app after every 3 rounds.
  • I remember when I bought the first Air Display, after only like two months it was removed and replaced with Air Display 2. That Dave Howell guy is a jerk. When I emailed about it, he just didn't give a crap. By removing the app, it meant no more bug patches, and it also meant no discount for future version purchases via bundles. I feel no sympathy for him, he deserves everything he's getting. When Air Display 3 was added to the App Store, he kept Air Display 2 going. So why the heck couldn't he do that with Air Display 1?
  • So, because he was a jerks years ago, he deserves that after two years ? And the others that weren't jerks? Do they deserve that?
  • Erm, yes? Do you not see the reasoning behind what he's saying?
  • How about when an app gets pulled by the dev without an explanation and we can't get a refund from them because they feel that they are justified in doing whatever they want with their app? Yeah, I'm not going to cry for any of these folks. Reach out to Apple and sort it out.
  • So, if developer pulls the app from the appstore, it immediately stops working on your device? The app wont be updated, sure, but it will still work as it was when you bought it. Are you one of those who thinks that purchasing the app once entitles you to free updates forever?
  • If it gets pulled from the app store you can't redownload it. That means if your iPhone gets wiped it's gone and you don't really own it anymore, and will never be able to again. I'm pretty sure he isn't "one of those"
  • Thank you :)
  • This is crazy! I've only ever gotten one refund for an app that flat out never worked right from the start. Most of the time, I've just never bothered, since most apps are so cheap they aren't worth the effort to get a refund even though they never functioned (Tony Hawk, I'm looking at you). There is no reason any refunds should be processed after the user has had the app for years!
  • Unless the app stops working after years. Apps are software and don't degrade and die, I'm still using Shazam which I bought way back when I had my iPhone 3G, if they can do it, why can't other app developers?
  • Some apps we purchased earlier have been pulled, we can't re-download them anymore. And this app thinning thing, can't transfer purchased apps anymore. We are all in this
  • I wonder if it had anything to do with this story - http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-ipad-curriculum-refund-20150... Although it is sad if Apple would screw developers because of a problem like this.