Apple ID

Apple's Sale of Third Party Subscriptions and Apps that Violate UK Consumer Protection Laws

I am wondering if anyone else has been in this situation and is concerned.

Your child gets hold of your laptop and proceeds to purchase subscriptions and apps that clearly are designed to appeal and bait children – vivid colors and names like "Cartoon Face Hair Salon;" no clear notices of the charges involved; duplicative charges without restriction or proper automatic limits. I am a mother and also a lawyer and these seem to be clear violations of consumer protection laws in the UK: the Advertising Standards Authority, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, etc. What is particularly worrying is that these apps use bait advertising which is on the black list of banned products under the CPUTR.

What Apple will quickly say is that the laptop (tablet etc) should have parental controls set. I have since set those. But this doesn't address the problem. Apple is liable under those consumer protection laws all the same.

I have repeatedly tried to get Apple to grant a full refund for these purchases. They were made by an unauthorized minor, but more to the point they were the result of advertising and other marketing tools set up to take advantage of the consumer.

The process of redress has been difficult (Apple unfortunately makes it that way). There is no email address to use; you have the Chat option or the option to call in. On Chat, Apple reps have asked that I make a list of all the disputed order numbers. This took me well over 2 hours to (query: did I really need to? The list of orders are clearly set out under my User ID info which they have access to). I did it anyway. When I sent it via Chat I was then told that they couldn't open the document. After two more chats, I was granted a partial refund (a fraction of what the charges were) and was told that if I wanted to know more about why a greater refund wasn't given I had to call in, "for security purposes." I then followed up with two phone calls. However, I was never told why a bigger refund wasn't granted. Both reps tried to get their managers to approve a total refund. The first rep couldn't get him on the line. They tried calling me back, but when I couldn't come to the phone and tried to call them back, the number was non-reachable. When I called a second time and was put on hold for close to half an hour, I was told that the refund request was refused by senior management and that there was nothing more Apple could do.

That there is nothing more that Apple can do is clearly false. There is a lot more that Apple must do, given consumer and advertising laws. But they have created a network of terms and conditions and other technical controls that seem to make it impossible for a consumer to appeal to and use these protections. Worse, if you google these laws in connection with Apple what you get back are virtually all connected with Apple's website. In other words, there are few resources available for consumers to protect themselves from Apple that aren't in effect controlled (at least in the information stage) by Apple.

Are we meant to accept this blindly and continue buying Apple products? My family have bought nothing but Apple products (laptops, phones and iPads) for the past 20 years.

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