A podcast discussing news of note in iOS Development, Apple and the like.

#178: Customer Escape Hatches

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After taking credit ;) for Apple’s experiments in search improvements I dive into a few changes to the App Store that could improve doing business in the store.

Make the App Store Refund policy more obvious

I really don’t understand why Apple makes the refund process so opaque and awkward. I know from my own experience in physical stores that a clear and easy refund policy helps drive sales. It is far better than a ‘trial-mode’ because it sustains the value of the app (rather than giving it away for free then asking for money later). However, it still maintains that escape hatch for purchases unsure of whether they really want the app.

I’d love two things, neither of which are actually policy changes.

  • Educate App Store customers about what the policy is and ideally phrase it in clear terms.

I’m sure there is an internal policy within Apple customer support, but I haven’t been able to find a clear explanation of it. The legalese Terms and Conditions for the App Store states that “All sales and rentals of products are final” but that is clearly not the actual policy since people get refunds all the time. Whatever the policy is this should be clear the customers.

  • Make the process of applying for a refund clear and straightforward.

Right now you go to reportaproblem.apple.com and then fill in a form. I’d love to see this integrated into the App Store app itself. Perhaps even into the Purchased Apps area.

Make in-app purchases (especially consumable) more honest

Building on a blog post I wrote last year I would love to see the App Store better inform its customers about how in-app purchases will affect their experience of an app.

  • Present a typical overall cost for an app in the App Store description

Make it clear that when you are downloading an app that says ‘free’ next to it that you may not actually be making the less expensive choice. Also, provides a clear expectation about the type of app the user is about to interact with.

  • Show how much you have spent on the app with each new purchase.

Be upfront with the user about how much money they have spent. Allowing them to make a more informed (and less manipulated) decision.

Drop or reframe the Top Grossing Chart

The Top Grossing chart was ostensibly added to help improve the visibility of higher paid apps within the store, at least that is how it appeared to me externally. If that is the goal it entirely fails to do that. Either drop the list or perhaps change it to only include paid apps, or at least exclude consumable in-app purchases from the ‘app revenue’ number.