Getting a Refund from the App Store Is Basically ImpossibleS

NetShare isn't going to be allowed back into the App Store anytime soon, by the looks of it, because it violates AT&T's terms of service. Which means that even if you were lucky enough to snag it, using it runs the risk of getting your account zapped by AT&T. So it's reasonable to want your ten bucks back-you've got an app you can't use that you purchased in good faith (as opposed to stupidity). But as one blogger found out, getting a refund can be absolutely maddening (read: impossible). Update: Several commenters say they've gotten refunds for various reasons with little hassle.

After AT&T's ToS came to light, they asked Apple for a refund, who directed them to Nullriver, NetShare's developer. Nullriver's Alex Lovett responded that it's actually in Apple's hands. Fearing the runaround, the blogger replied and pointed out Nullriver's 30-day return policy. Alex hit back with this:

"Ah, the support was set up in a rush and is still being worked on, normally for all our apps we do have a 30 day refund policy, but it is simply not possible to do that with the AppStore as its all operated and handled by Apple, otherwise we would offer it. If you speak to Apple they may grant you a refund/reversal on a one off chance, ive heard of them doing that."

Back to Apple, who again replied:

As previously stated, unfortunately there isn't anything I can do for you. All iTunes purchases are final, and I am unable to refund you for the app.

You will need to contact NetShare directly, as this is there product and we can do nothing with it. You can contact them from the link below:

http://www.nullriver.com/support

Sincerely,
Andrew
iTunes Store Customer Support

The thing is, Apple can issue refunds: They did for at least two of the suckers who bought the $1000 idiot app. The situation might be a different from NetShare, however. The NYT says Apple "reversed" two of the sales, so it's unclear if the money was already in Armin Heinrich's pocket before Apple hit the brakes. NetShare has had people's money for well over a week.

Still, any way you look at this, it's not a pretty picture for hosed customers. If refunds are entirely in the hands of developers once the money is safely ensconced in their bank acccounts (as Apple support implies), well, you better buy from someone you trust-if the dev doesn't wanna give you your money back, you aren't getting it. Or, more charitably to Nullriver, perhaps there is just a big ol' hole between Apple and developers on getting refunds to users-then it's one that needs to be patched so users don't fall into it. The last possibility is that it depends solely on Apple's mercy. Would they offer refunds for a malicious app that they killed with the remote detonator? Right now, there's no way to tell.

The hardass take is that if Apple screws up and lets something in the App Store it shouldn't have, it should absorb the fallout and make amends to users (except for the "I Am Rich" morons, they suck). NetShare is an app users purchased with the reasonable belief they could use it because Apple allowed it into the store. (Twice even.) Part of being the store's One Supreme Guardian is bearing responsibility for everything that goes down under your watch. [Horrid Voices - Thanks JimiX!]