Apple has a plan for customers abusing its returns policy

Apple has a system in place to deal with EU customers who are abusing its new returns policy, which it introduced in late-December to comply with local regulations.

What is it? Well, those in question have to agree, upon future purchases, that they will no longer be able to return - basically, ask refunds for - digital content, once it is downloaded (or streamed).

Apple allows its EU customers to return digital content - apps, music, and videos - within 14 days after purchase, which has been interpreted by many as a green light to unlimited refunds. Mal-intended users could seemingly buy, say, games, enjoy them until right before the returns period ends, then ask for refunds, and repeat the process as they please.

Such a policy could, indeed, negatively impact the bottom line of content creators, but it is, however, not the case.

Apple is within its rights to ask abusing customers to agree to those terms upon purchase, as the EU regulation which the company is complying with is clearly designed to protect content creators from such abuses. It states the following:

[...] once you start downloading or streaming the content you may no longer withdraw from the purchase, provided that the trader has complied with his obligations. Specifically, the trader must first obtain your explicit agreement to the immediate download or streaming, and you must explicitly acknowledge that you lose your right to withdraw once the performance has started.

And this is exactly what Apple is doing, with regards to abusing customers, as Twitter user Rosyna Keller discovered.

Furthermore, Apple's new returns policy has stated something similar from the start:

Exception to the right of cancellation: You cannot cancel your order for the supply of digital content if the delivery has started upon your request and acknowledgment that you thereby lose your cancellation right.

However, considerate users can still take advantage of the 14-day returns window as expected, as this system is only intended for those who have repeatedly asked for their money back. Apple could have the same system in place for all of its EU customers, but the company apparently wants to be more permissive with those who are only going to ask for refunds within reason.

Now, one may ask how is Apple establishing who is and who isn't abusing its returns policy. Well, that is not clear yet. Presumably, Apple is only flagging those who are lately asking for more refunds than usual, following the policy change, but it could also be flagging those who choose not to keep most - or a significant part - of the digital content they buy, by asking for refunds.

No matter, you might want to be sensible with regards to which apps you buy and how many you wish to return, because, once you are believed to be abusing the system, there appears to be no way of going back.

Any purchase is final, and there is nothing you will be able to do about it.

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