Apple’s “Gifting” Policy is Outdated

Apple’s gifting process is something that is rather unique to iOS, iTunes, and the Mac App Store. It allows one party to pay for an app that is then sent to the other party. That app is then downloaded by the receiver. It’s an easy way to send a friend a song, or a family member the latest game for their iPhone without having to give them any kind of personal information whatsoever.

Not all is perfect in this process, as “Jay” shows us. He decided to gift an app to his wife (the $9.99 Numbers app), but didn’t realize that she had already purchased the app for herself. Jay realized this, and then contacted Apple’s support team – he wanted his money back. Apple’s technical support allowed him to receive a credit for the purchase, but it does raise questions about this process.

First and foremost, how many people are gifting apps, videos, or songs to another person without realizing that the receiver already has the content, and thus losing their money? There is no mechanism in place for this, and the only way to realize this error is for the receiver to contact the sender and say so. Then, as Jay did, the sender must contact Apple and request a credit – which may or may not happen all the time.

Further more, Apple has an (admittedly small) vested interest in not refunding these gifted items: Apple still makes their slice of the profit on every item gifted. Why wouldn’t they want to uphold these mistaken purchases? The iTunes Terms of Service states that “all sales are final,” so they’re legally covered.

It would take almost no time at all for one of the brilliant engineers at Apple to figure out a way to stop potential money from being wasted. We live in a world where all of Apple’s most popular devices have at least some kind of internet connection, and every purchase we make is tied to an Apple ID. Would it really kill Apple to implement a program that goes and searches the receiver’s database of purchased items, and then comes back and says “XYZ has already purchased FunGame. Are you sure you want to proceed?”

Thanks to Jay for bringing this issue to our attention.

Post a response / What do you think?