Saturday, April 30, 2016

App Store Educational “Discount”

Dave Howell:

9/14/14: Sold 500 edu copies of Air Display 2.

4/25/16: All 500 refunded.

No explanation, contact, or even customer name.

I’m guessing some school district returned its trial iPads and went Android but who knows.

Basically Apple let them use my app for free for two whole school years without even asking my permission.

To appeal anything there would have to be a channel of communication with Apple.

And it’s actually worse than just letting them use it for free, because now Avatron has an unexpected revenue hole for this year.

Update (2016-05-03): Little White Bear:

I had 1 day edu refund of 140 copies, after 2 yrs of use. Apple declared it an exceptional case and refused to elaborate.

Craig Hockenberry:

So how many developers are turning off educational discounts as this spreads like wildfire through our community?

Paul Haddad:

The App Store weirdness with refunds isn’t limited to educational purchases. I still see individual sales and refunds of Tweetbot iPhone 2.

Refunds after 1-2 years are BS regardless of if its educational or individual.

Nick Heer:

A lack of decent, consistent communication is the root of so many of the issues plaguing the store, whether it’s apps being rejected for ridiculous and inconsistent reasons, or poor advice from the App Review team.

Update (2016-05-04): Jim Dalrymple:

How the hell can this be possible?

Update (2016-05-05): Phil Schiller:

@DSHowell Issue tracked down. The team is reaching out to you about it.

Dave Howell:

nothing yet

Update (2016-05-06): Dave Howell:

Resolved. It was an anomaly. Was nice of Apple to call to explain.

No it happened but should get reversed soon.

Seems like they institutes some new account management policy or something, and are working out the edge cases.

Update (2016-08-24): Wil Shipley:

So someone bought 30 edu copies of Library 3 yesterday, then returned them today. I don’t get this game.

15 Comments RSS · Twitter

Kirk McElhearn

And on the other hand, I never got my refund for Marco Arment's Peace. I even emailed iTunes Store support twice, and they never replied.

[…] kund ska kunna använda din iOS-mjukvara i två år och sedan begära att få sina pengar tillbaka? Tydligen tycker Apple det, i synnerhet om kunden i fråga finns i […]

Apparently you need to have purchased another 100 copies and wait at least another year before sticking it to him.


It seems the Apple Experience is deteriorating for these partner-constituents; I find this sad and of Apple's own making.

If this is not of Schiller's making, it needs to be if Schiller's fixing and quickly.

Educational discounts in the App store? I have never seen that.

Nathaniel Winn

I paid $4.99 for 1Metronome (I think) and thought it well worth the money.
Now the app is gone. Fried. As if it never existed.
No money back for me, either.

Peter Johnson

"Peace" was supposed to be an automatic refund.

However with an app that cheap, a refund is not worth Apple's time handling it,, or mine asking for it.

[…] reported via Mac developer Michael Tsai on his personal blog, no less than some refunds seem to be associated with copies of apps purchased in bulk for academic […]

Dave from Avatron here.

To be fair, this may be a tempest in a teacup. I've contacted Apple through the official Contact Us page and to their credit they have responded. I am hopeful that they'll offer some explanation and then make it right.

I've been making software for Apple platforms since the Apple ][ and //gs. I love the company. I know today's Apple is a different sort of enterprise, but I haven't given up on them. There are still some great people there.

I certainly don't plan to dump the platform and go get a respectable job.


@James - Schools participating in Apple's Volume Purchase Program can receive a 50% discount when buying more than 20 licenses of an app (if the developer opts in - thankfully most do!). This is a huge help for a lot of schools who have to buy hundreds, if not thousands of licenses of each app they want to distribute to students and teachers.

[…] словам разработчика приложений для Mac OS Майкла Цая, часть […]

Alan Shutko

I wonder if the school district bought the licenses, but never actually used them? I think the way the program works is the coordinator can buy a big block of license, then redeems them one by one on individual devices. I know there have been some high profile cases where school districts bought iPads and never actually deployed them, and are now trying to get their money back.

I'm the tech administrator in a small K-8 school district, and to piggyback on Alan Shutko's comment, I can also imagine that, in the case of Avatron's app, Air Display, a district could well have purchased it in error. It is extremely unlikely that a school would need to use 500 iPads as external displays for laptop or desktop computers. If I had to guess, I'd say the district wanted a way to use AirPlay to mirror student (or teacher) iPad screens to a computer connected to an LCD projector in the classroom, and they misunderstood what they needed. One of the common AirPlay "receivers" is called AirServer, and is a Mac app. It is entirely plausible that the district purchased the licenses for Air Display by mistake, either by misunderstanding the need for a Mac rather than iOS app, or because the online store school districts use to buy multiple licenses for individual apps includes both Mac and iOS apps. It is also entirely plausible that the discovery of the error was made after the fact, by a person new to the job who was looking over the purchase history.

All that said, the decision to refund the cost is at Apple's discretion in the interest of their relationship with the school district, and as such, Apple should be eating the cost of that decision, not the developer.

By way of background, before the Volume Purchase Program, schools had no way to buy multiple licenses for a given app to install on multiple devices. In other words, our only recourse would be to buy one copy from the App store and install it on multiple devices, like individuals do with their own personal devices. I hated that, because I knew it wasn't fair to developers of the apps we were finding useful, but there was literally no other way way we could do it.

Wonder what the resolution was with this? As someone who has sold many VPP copies of apps in years past, I am now extremely worried that they will come back to haunt me. There has to be some type of time limitation on these written into the policy, right?

@Dave: «All Sales are Final» is the global policy. All refunds are handled as exceptions to the App Store ToS or under Consumer Law in certain (mostly European) countries. In practice, Apple is offering refunds to all customers and generating heuristics on the abuse of that feature. Customers abusing the refund system will be denied refunds in the future and customers exceeding a threshold with Consumer Law Refunds must agree that their sale was final at EVERY future download of Apps, Songs and other items which revokes their right to refund afterwards. This is enforced today, but doesn't work with Volume Purchases.

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