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25th Jul 2021

Apple gives EU consumers refund option for apps, music

  • European consumers now have 14 days to get a refund on apps purchased via Apple's digital store. (Photo: Miguel)

Technology company Apple has introduced a refund policy for applications, digital books and music for European consumers, falling into line with EU rules.

Apple hasn't publicly announced the move or its motives, but a change in the German version of Apple's user agreement was first noted by German website iFun on Monday (29 December).

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The new 14-day return policy is laid down in the most recent "terms and conditions" which apply to users of Apple's products (App Store, Mac App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks).

An inventory by EUobserver of the German, French, Spanish, Polish, and Dutch versions of the terms shows they now also include a 14-day refund period. Consumers in Norway – not an EU member – have been granted the same right to cancellation.

The company usually does not announce changes to its user agreements, leaving it to consumers or technology blogs to spot the differences for policy changes.

Apple was unavailable for a comment on Tuesday morning.

Consumers who buy something via the company's online stores now have two weeks to decide if they are satisfied with their purchase. Digital gift cards are excluded from the new policy.

“If you choose to cancel your order, you may do so within 14 days from when you received your receipt without giving any reason, except iTunes Gifts which cannot be refunded once you have redeemed the code”, the UK version of the legal agreement Apple requires its consumers to accept, reads.

However, the new policy does not apply to consumers in the US or Canada.

“All sales and rentals of products are final”, the policies for those countries still state.

Apple's move makes the legal arrangements more in line with EU rules.

In June 2014, European lawmakers adopted the so-called EU Consumer Rights Directive, which is meant to boost consumer rights in the bloc.

The new rules grant European consumers the right “to return goods bought at a distance, whether by internet, post or phone” during a 14-day period from the moment the consumer has received the purchased goods.

The directive, proposed by the European Commission in 2008, was adopted in June by the European Parliament with a majority of 615 Yes votes to 16 No votes and 21 abstentions.

However some entrepreneurs may be concerned that the new law allows for 'free riders'.

Technology blog Readwrite foresees that “developers who make high-value apps - like games - could wind up being collateral damage if users get in the habit of grabbing them for a specific purpose, then demanding refunds”.

Some consumers may decide to purchase a digital book, read it within 14 days, and then apply for a refund.

On the other hand, consumers may feel more confident to take the leap into buying digital products knowing they can receive a refund if the product is a disappointment.

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