Thursday, March 14, 2024

DealMachine Subscription Cancellations

John Gruber (Mastodon):

I downloaded the app and signed up; immediately after confirming your email address, you get sent to a screen in the app where you choose from account tiers to begin a free trial. The lowest tier is $100/month, the highest is $500/month. And after making your selection, you get sent to this page on DealMachine’s website to pay using Stripe.


I don’t think DealMachine is a scam. Stripe is as legit as it gets. But when you handle payments on your own, you handle refunds and subscription cancellations on your own too. […] So DealMachine offers a taste of what our friends in the EU may be getting from marketplace apps soon.

I’m not sure what to think about this. The external payment is apparently allowed here, because of the nature of the service, but he expects Apple to remove the app due to the poor subscription management. I only see two critical reviews mentioning cancellation, so it’s not clear how widespread the problem is. Maybe there’s no real story here. Or maybe this is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the App Store that this has gone on for years and the ratings average 4.7 stars.

Subscription management overall should be easier, but I don’t see the App Store as the place to solve this. And I don’t understand the fear with external payments for apps, specifically. Everyone buys all sorts of stuff on the Web, problems are rare, and the credit card companies already offer a backstop where it’s easy to get your money back if there’s any funny business. In fact, customers already use this for purchases that Apple doesn’t want to refund.

If some company offered consumers a service, where they could pay an App Store–like extra fee to get App Store–like buyer protection features for all the random stuff they buy online, I don’t think people would find that deal very attractive. They’re already paying the credit card companies a few percent for a system that basically works.

Craig Grannell:

Which infers third party marketplaces will by default be bad actors (they won’t) and ignores the fact this app is on the App Store, which has rules (broken here) Apple claims is supposed to protect us and is why we shouldn’t have third-party App Stores.

Dave Nanian:

This is happening in Apple’s own app store, not in some 3rd party store. And 3rd party stores are, themselves, “managed” by Apple. Wouldn’t those 3rd parties have at least the same desire to prevent abuse, if not more, since Apple can deprive them of…everything, with a click.

On top of that, do we find that this is some sort of big problem with, say, macOS or Windows apps? Even those managed by subscriptions?

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Having seen what third-party app marketplaces have to go through just to be approved by Apple, I wouldn’t be surprised if third-party stores end up being safer than the App Store; the App Store is the marketplace full of scams, exploitation and dark patterns, where third-parties can focus much more on curated collections of trusted apps.

Nick Heer:

A few things can be true:

  1. Apple’s in-app purchasing system is a particularly nice way to buy digital goods and manage subscriptions.

  2. Apple requires most developers to use in-app purchases for many types of transaction. It does not compete independently in the market of digital payment systems. This is probably in part because Apple wants a consistent experience in third-party apps. But its 15–30% commission cannot be ignored, and Apple’s mandate implies little faith in IAP’s niceness and familiarity to convince developers to use it.

  3. Easy cancellation of subscriptions can be the domain of consumer protection authorities if you want it to be. You can just pass a law. This sort of stuff is a political slam dunk across the spectrum, except for weird libertarians. It is possible to just require things to be better for everybody regardless of what they bought or how they bought it.

Drew McCormack:

Have seen some pretty scammy practices in apps lately. Straight up tricks to get people to accidentally pay for a subscription they don’t want. And these are apps that Apple accepted into its store. As is, the situation is worse than downloading from a dubious third party store or web site, because most people have learned to be wary there. When you download from the App Store, you just assume it will be fine. You don’t expect to be scammed. It’s the perfect con.


7 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

This is a classic DF post. To me he is an indie embedded Apple marketing writer.

Just wondering, is Daring Fireball not working for anyone else? This link just leads to a page that has only the link on it and nothing else; Michael, do you see something different?

Seems like Gruber's post has been removed?

To recap:
This app is available on the current non EU iOS App Store? It's been there for years? It has high ratings? It isn't a scam? And again had nothing to with current EU app store legislature? But this app's cancellation policies are a problem because of new EU rules governing digital storefronts… What?!!!? This whole article took a turn to crazyville.

You can scroll down the list of articles on Daring Fireball and still see it, but the link does not resolve for me either.

"If some company offered consumers a service, where they could pay an App Store–like extra fee to get App Store–like buyer protection features …"

…this sounds like Paypal to me, no?

Regarding DF: Gruber somehow turned the theme of his blog to EU-bashing and politics and more and more away from the nerdy stuff about Apple and IT that I came for in the first place... :( "a long, long time ago"

@Markus Sort of, though PayPal’s fees are much lower even though they are taking much more risk due to physical goods.

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