iTunes credit in Canada - Apple changes its (i)Tune

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 18:07
Today's update: Yesterday (Oct 13 2009) I replied to John at iTunes support to express my dissatisfaction with the the outcome so far. Today I received another response. The good news is I'm getting my refund. Excellent! It's nice to know that persistence pays off. Where it goes all wonky is that now Apple claims that the previous statement regarding Canadian commerce law was "unauthorized" and that Apple policy alone is the One True Reason why Canadians can't buy apps with store credit.

My letter to Apple:

Dear John,

Thank you for your response and for reiterating Apple's policy regarding app store purchases in the Canadian app store. I understand that you feel the issue is closed. However, your response below does not in fact answer my questions at all. I am clearly aware of what Apple's policy is. I am not asking for clarification of the policy.

If you carefully re-read my previous message, you would note that I have asked for assistance with two separate issues, neither of which is resolved by restating Apple's app store policy.

The first issue is that I have asked for a refund of the allowance credit on my daughter's Apple account *****@********.***, or at the very least, a transfer of that credit to my account, ***@********.***. I indicated previously that giving her more song credits is not a satisfactory solution. To be clear: I want to see the credit in my daughter's account refunded or credited to my account.

The second issue is that I have asked for clarification of the statement made to me by Corvacia of Apple iTunes support that the reason for the Canadian app store policy is "due to Canadian Commerce Laws that the iTunes Store must strictly enforce". I have asked Apple three times to provide me with information on what these Canadian commerce laws are. You have not addressed this issue in any way. Again for clarity, please cite for me exactly what Canadian commerce law Apple believes it must enforce.

In conclusion John, your response to me is not helpful in any way. I am already aware of Apple's policy, quoting it back to me does not provide me with any new information. I am making my third request for answers to the two issues above. Please make an effort to read my questions carefully and to address them directly. Thank you.

Thank you for your time; I am looking forward to your response.

And the latest response:

Dear Jim,

I apologize for the previous miscommunication that agents statements were unauthorized. You are speaking with a senior agent which is why I provided the correct, and only reason why store credit cannot be used for Apps/Software.

Regarding a refund or transfer of allowances. I will be able to issue a cash-out of your daughters account.

I will be happy to send you the store credit on your daughters account. If done you would receive a check in 4 to 6 weeks.

Forgive me Jim for any inconvenience that this may have caused you. I hope this information has been helpful.
OK, so I'm getting a refund. Thank you Apple, I appreciate that you have taken a satisfactory measure to help with my daughter's unwanted credit balance.

However, I'm amazed that the previous statement about Canadian commerce law is now considered "unauthorized". I wonder if the same statement made to Claire Feikema back in June was also unauthorized? What about when Apple support made it to Dave Sawyer? Was it also unauthorized when used by Natalie in iTunes support? Or when this guy was told the same thing? That seems like a lot of unauthorized statements from Apple iTunes support people, and I know there's many many more customers out there that have been told the same thing.

So is anyone buying this story?

From what I can tell, the policy from Apple now is that the policy is the policy because that's the policy and it has nothing to do with Canadian commerce laws at all. Really? After telling so many Canadians that was the reason, now it isn't?

Nope, not buying it at all.

Canadian iTunes app store credit update

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 21:58
Today I received another response back from Apple Canada iTunes support. This one is even less helpful than the previous one; I don't think the Apple rep even read what I'd written in my request as the response is even more vague than before and fails to address my questions in any way.

Here is my email to Apple:
Thank you for your attention to this situation, Rashida. I'm sorry to say that my issue has still not been resolved. First of all, in my previous message to Apple support I explained that my daughter is not interested in purchasing songs via iTunes and since she could not use her allowance to buy games, I requested a refund or credit to my iTunes account (***@*******.***). You responded by crediting her with two additional songs in iTunes. It should have been obvious that providing her with more of what she does not want is not a satisfactory solution.

Second, I have followed up with the Canadian government and the Federal Minister of Industry, Hon. Tony Clement, is unable to substantiate Apple's position that there is some Canadian commerce law that prevents Apple from accepting iTunes credit as payment for apps. Why does Apple believe that such a restriction exists? This is my second request to Apple to provide me with the specific Canadian legislation that Apple believes applies here. Again, I will reiterate that the Canadian Minister of Industry has indicated in writing that there is no such legislation (see a copy of his letter at the url provided below).

Please see the following blog post for a more complete summary of my correspondence with Apple and my government representatives:

http://www.jimwhitelaw.com/2009/09/itunes-credit-in-canada.html

And today I received the following response:

Dear Jim,

This is John from iTunes. Your request has been escalated up to myself to further handle your case.

The inquiry regarding why a credit card is needed to purchase App or software can be found here in the terms of sale that was agreed upon with your account creation.

MONTHLY ALLOWANCES

Monthly Allowances are for transactions on the iTunes Store only. The Allowance Account may not be used for gifts, or purchases on the Apple Online Store or in Apple Retail Stores. Monthly Allowances may not be used for purchases on the Apple Online Store or in Apple Retail Stores. Monthly Allowances are non-refundable. Monthly Allowances may not be used to purchase Gift Certificates, iTunes Cards, Apps, or other Monthly Allowances. Monthly allowances may not be used to purchase software, games, or apps.

iTUNES CARDS

iTunes Cards are for transactions on the iTunes Store only. iTunes Cards may not be used for gifts, or purchases on the Apple Online Store or in Apple Retail Stores. iTunes Cards are non-refundable. iTunes Cards may not be used to purchase Gift Certificates, Monthly Allowances, Apps, or other iTunes Cards. iTunes Cards may not be used to purchase software, games, or apps.

You can find this information here:
http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/ca/terms.html#SALE

In closing this is a clear a concise answer for this request. It is the current policy for Canadian customers.

We do recommend customer review these terms before the store is used if they have any concerns such as this.

Please note that Apple now considers this matter closed.

If you would like assistance with another iTunes Store issue, please don't hesitate to contact us:

http://www.apple.com/support/itunes/ww

I apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused you. I hope this information has been helpful.

Sincerely,

John
iTunes Store Customer Support
In short, today's response consists of quoting Apple's policy back to me and telling me to piss off. It doesn't appear that "John" has even bothered to read my message. I was not asking for clarification of the policy, I'm well aware of what the policy says by now. I was asking for 1) Refund or credit of my daughter's credit to my account (Is that so unreasonable? Just transfer the balance back to my account - unlike her, I DO buy music from iTunes.) and a citation or reference to the Canadian Law that Apple believes they need to enforce in the app store.

I also sent similar messages via the Apple iTunes feedback page and to sjobs@apple.com (which I believe is a valid address for whoever gets the task of reading Steve Jobs' email), and have not received a response from either.

I don't really hold out much hope that this approach will bear any fruit as I don't think anyone at Apple support is actually reading what I write. That and the "escalation" process likely works in the reverse of what you'd think - that is, the newest person in the call center with the least authority to actually do anything to help a customer is now stuck with dealing with my complaints.

To be clear, I'm not necessarily blaming Apple for this situation (though the way their support is dealing with it is clearly sub-standard) as the company probably does have some grounds for believing their policy needs to be what it is. I just want a straight answer concerning whatever is behind that policy. That shouldn't be so hard should it? Since this app store limitation surely hurts Apple's Canadian business and Apple claims it's a Canadian regulation they have to enforce, you'd think they'd be only to happy to identify that regulation as the root cause of this policy.

My must-have Wordpress plugins

Monday, October 12, 2009 at 19:15
Recently, I've been setting up a bunch of new websites for some of our business ventures. They aren't web applications and don't need fancy programming; they just need to be informational, attractive, quick to set up and in most cases easy to maintain by non-techie types. A while back, @nathany suggested to me that Wordpress might be an appropriate tool for these kinds of sites. At first I thought a blogging tool was kind of an odd choice, but then I realized I'd already used the Blogger platform for a couple sites that are more static-y than blog-y (See http://thelog.ca and http://wildrosemiata.com) so I thought I should check out Wordpress.

Turns out the recent versions of WP are pretty good for use as a basic CMS and there's a fair number of articles available online offering tutorials on this use. My hosting provider offers Wordpress as an easy and free add-on so I didn't even have to do the install, just click-click, voila! and I had a test site to play with.

Anyway, on to the meat of this article, after setting up a few sites, I found myself installing a core set of plugins on each. These are my basic set of must-haves for setting up a Wordpress-powered CMS site.
  • MMForms - Quick and easy setup of forms for contact info, applications, etc. Nice set of options, including confirmation emails to submitter and saving to database and providing an RSS feed for the submitted data. I can forsee creating some app links that pull the form data via RSS into something else for additional processing.
  • Ultimate Google Analytics - Makes it easy to add and manage Google analytics links across the site. I like the ability to have it not track requests when users of a given userlevel are logged in and to ignore admin requests.
  • All In One SEO Pack - This plugin is great for making various tweaks to how your pages are formed, titles, keywords etc. I'm not all that concerned about SEO at this point in time, but I do like the fine control it gives over the page metadata.
  • WP-DBManager - This should really be a part of Wordpress core. It provides options to view, optimize and backup your databases and peform various other DB tasks. Handy stuff to have in the WP admin instead of having to fire up a separate DB admin tool.
  • Sociable - This one I haven't used on every site, but for the ones I think warrant it, this plugin makes it super easy to add quick links for readers to share your pages on about ninety gazillion social networking sites.
So that's my list. I'm still pretty new to the Wordpress scene. Are there some others that I should be looking into? I still haven't found a really good Paypal cart/link tool that beats simply using the tools that Paypal provides.


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