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.

22 comments

  1. enkerli Says:

    Blogged about this in late December and been receiving a number of comments from other people who received the same (corporate but, now allegedly unauthorized) answer.
    Apart from not really buying it, I have simply no idea why Apple doesn't accept gift cards on the Canadian App Store (i.e., what do they gain?) and why they don't state anything on the card, in the redeeming page, or in any other obvious documentation.

    (Your post was tweeted by @michaelgeist but I got wind of it through a Swedish colleague in ethnomusicology. Strange world we live in!)

  2. RTMS Says:

    The newest cards out there[ and you really have to be careful when you pick them up] now state that you can not buy software with the cards, but only music and the videos. The old ones still have the disclaimer that you can buy the software, music, video etc and is what misleads people. Good to know that it's all been a lie. Now we just have to pressure Apple to give in.

  3. Darcy Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  4. Darcy Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  5. Darcy Says:

    It all boils down to the fact that Apple does not want to have to pay the Canadian taxes. That is it, plain and simple! I know this from my sister working for Apple (through a temporary service), and it is taught in training classes to state that it is "due to international tax laws", which it really is. If it is phrased that way, it is not a lie. Apple does not want to pay the taxes for the apps, and the don't want to alienate their customer base by being honest with them.

    Let me give you a little more information: many, many Apple agents are employees of temporary agencies, working in call centers that are full of nothing but temp workers. They are required to take 3-4 chats at a time. When you answer one of the surveys after a chat, email, or phone call, anything less than 4, out of a scale from 1-5, can get the agent fired. If you state that you hate Apple policy and give a "Meets Expectations" or lower on any section of the survey, it is counted against the employee. Apple does not care if you place in the notes that you loved the agent but are unhappy with Apple's policies. They are so concerned with their JD Powers standing that they don't give a crap about all the temporary workers they have through Volt and Kelly Services, and other agencies!

  6. Bahamut Says:

    If the problem is Canadian tax law, I have to wonder if two or more provinces have conflicting statutes, and if this is what made Apple say, "screw it."

    Just throwing that thought out there.

  7. ™ © Says:

    WOW Jim ... it looks like you actually did a lot of research about this. Tell me one thing.... did you read the terms of sale like you said you did when you clicked the button agreeing to the terms stated when you created yours and your daughters account?

    here … ill make it easy for you and past it here

    NOW KEEP IN MIND THAT YOU AGREED TO THESE TERMS BEFORE YOU CREATED AN ITUNES ACCOUNT AND BEFORE YOU PURCHASED A CERTIFICATE OR AN ALLOWANCE OR REDEEMED A GIFT CARD

    Gift Certificates may be redeemed for iTunes Store transactions only and are non-refundable for cash. They cannot be used for purchases on the Apple Online Store or used in Apple Retail Stores. Purchases for Gift Certificates may be purchased only in whole Canadian dollar increments or designated amounts. Gift Certificates may not be used to purchase other Gift Certificates, iTunes Cards or Monthly Allowances. Gift Certificates cannot be used to purchase software, games, or apps.

    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 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.

    So i guess your right, the support agent provided incorrect information(as if that never happens!), but this entire situation could have been avoided if you had done what you said you had done when you clicked the button "i have read and agree to these terms of sale" Blaming apple after the fact hardly seems appropriate. Like suing McDonalds for the burns you got when you spilled your coffee in your lap .. but its not your fault the hot liquid warning was not big enough .. and its not your fault you did not read the terms of sale right? Do what you say you do and you will be a well informed consumer.

  8. ™ © Says:

    YOU PUT YOURSELF IN THIS SITUATION NOW YOU ARE PISSED AT POLICY THAT YOU HAD EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO READ.

    IF YOU READ THE TERMS OF SALE YOU WOULD NEVER HAD TO CALL APPLE AND ASK " HEY APPLE .. CAN YOU TEACH ME HOW TO READ "

  9. Bahamut Says:

    @tm:
    Technically, you are correct. However, you and I both know that very few people have both the time and the law degree required to unravel the Terms of Use (ToU) for any one website (let alone the ToU for the dozens of web services the average person may use). The fact that Apple buries this information in the ToU rather than state it openly implies that the reason they don't let you use gift cards to purchase apps would cause bad publicity for Apple.

  10. JMJ Says:

    JIm,

    I posted on a site where your story was picked up. I think it's more likely you'll read it here.

    For maximum exposure, and for almost a virtual guarantee it will be seen, have your story posted by Consumerist.com

    JMJ.

  11. Jenny Says:

    I'm giving this my best go and not buying a single app on the app store until iTunes Canada accepts iTunes gift cards for Apps.

    Its been interesting, seeing what apps are free and keeping my eyes out for 'free' bonuses. If all the Canadians who want apps avoid pay apps and stick to free, that may help send a message!

  12. Connie Walsh Says:

    I am looking for a workaround to this archaic notion.

  13. Mike Says:

    Hi Jim:

    Any updates about your current battle with Apple?

    I have been in a bit of siege myself with iTunes support over the same issue. However, I am not seeking re compensation, I simply want to know what Canadian Law Apple is claiming to abide by that prevents me from downloading software with iTunes credit.

    So far they have given me the run around, sending me to paragraph 10 of their ToC.

    They consider the matter closed, and told me that all future emails will go unanswered...I replied back asking for a Team lead to look into the matter, or that I would forward the entire conversation to J.D powers, and the BBB.

    Let me know how far you get with them!

  14. curtis Says:

    apple comes out with updated terms of use and we just click agree in order to goon with our business;therefore should have put it right on the cards or the redeem page clarifying the new tou

  15. jd Says:

    I completely agree with "™ ©". And to be honest I'm amazed that s/he is the only poster so far with this point of view. Further; I can't believe the support you're getting in the comments section. And now a Facebook group? This whole thing is ridiculous! You didn't read the agreement before you signed it. NONE OF YOU DID. Now you're mad about what it says and want Apple to change their policy?

    The fact that an, or some employees mistakenly or misleadingly stated that this policy is due to Canadian Commerce Laws is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. The policy is not illegal. And if you believe it's "unreasonable" then you shouldn't have agreed to it. The way I look at it; if it cost you $20 to learn to read something before you sign it, IT WAS WORTH IT. Apple is under no obligation to explain, or change policy for people who don't even read it. And if you don't have time to read, or can't understand the policy AND SIGN IT ANYWAY, then don't start crying and whine that it's unfair when Apple follows it. Just because you got your refund doesn't mean you were right, it just means you're annoying.

    What kind of lesson is your daughter learning from this? To never admit you're wrong even when you are? To blame others for your mistakes? To use ignorance as a tool to get what you want? Wouldn't it be great if at 10 years old, she learned that people make mistakes, and that's ok, but when you make a mistake you pay for it? Or that accepting responsibility for your actions it CRUCIAL to GROWTH as a person? Unfortunately it seems that's a level of maturity that even you don't possess.

    You all need to grow up.

  16. Ty90012 Says:

    The truth is that BEFORE, when I signed up this wasn't in the TOU and they have updated it since. I run a small business so I always read this kind of thing. I too got the option for check refund bit didn't take it. I want to know why. I don't honestly want a company who acts like this to have my credit card info. I just can't trust them!


    This was written from my iPod Touch 3rd Generation.

  17. Ty90012 Says:

    As well as the fact thy the customer is usually wrong, but it is the job of the support to make them feel right come into play. When support blatently lies about conflicting laws, they are not making you feel right, safe, or that the company is honest. If I did this to a customer, they would leave in a minute, the only reason why Apple thinks they can get away with it is because they believe they have a stranglehold over you once you have purchased their product. Just jailbreak. If enough people do it, developers will start selling outside of the App Store all together. They will go where the market is!

  18. pst Says:

    @tm(c) and jd:

    Way to miss the point!

    Regardless of what the fine print might have said in the past when folks created their accounts or bought their cards, there's no disagreement about what it says now: you can't purchase apps with gift cards.

    That this policy is not consistent across the localized appstores no doubt contributed to the confusion, but my hat is off to you both for having read the full-text legalese and arguing so forcefully (by the power of CAPSLOCK!) on behalf of its underlying righteousness. Only children and the unrepentantly irresponsible refuse to accept the world as-is and try to change it to suit their taste.

    The relevant issues, which remain unresolved, are: a) what is the true reason for this policy; b) why were they lying about the reason before (the "Canadian law" excuse); and c) how we can convince Apple to change it.

    Having framed the matter thus, I await your learned responses and searing insights.

  19. jd Says:

    Hey I never read the ToU either, I'm just not gonna cry when I'm faced with the limitations I agreed to.

    I may not have made my post clear enough. My position was that those are not relevant issues. I apologize for not addressing your points, but I find them extraneous. Like I said before, I believe this whole thing is ridiculous.

    So you're right. It appears I have missed the point. I guess that's what happens sometimes when you look at the big picture.

    Carry on...

  20. Linnell Says:

    I think the point is being missed whether the TOA is read or not. We buy expensive electronic equipment for our kids and then they do not have access to use it. The Cards now have "Not redeemable for all purchases such as iPod Games or App Store purchases." This is in very tiny print on the back of the card which is on a place card. So is not visible when purchasing. Also nowhere is it posted in the Canadian Apple Store or told to you when you are purchasing the card. I am mad because what should be a simple process...buying a card for purchase of Apps for a piece of equipment for someone who is not old enough to have a credit card. So they can load the games they want on it. Why has it become so difficult for a multibillion dollar company to figure out? When you buy a card you pay tax. Why would you then again be taxed when buying Apps from the Apps store you have already paid the tax on the card you are buying? In this digital world someone needs to figure it out and make it work. I figure a company that is on top at the moment could spend a little bit of their profit and figure it out. Or take it to the government to create a digital law on taxing. If the tax is paid when purchasing why do we have to pay it again when downloading? Canada now has 4 carriers for the iPhone. The iPad is coming out also..So they don't want our Young Canadian Consumers to buy them? What about a Paypal account for kids? There are solutions and I have yet to hear anyone from Apple who could make a decision come forward. When I heard my Granddaughter tell me that she could not purchase Apps with all the iTunes cards she got for Christmas I heard how crushed she was it was I was mad. She didn't want it any more so we took it back and got a Nintendo DSS but she still really wants an iPod Touch. The fight is for the Right to be able to purchase Apps using Gift Cards not Credit cards! Really what does this say to kids out there?

    ™ © you must not have children this began over a child's account if you had bothered to read the whole feed you would have seen the progression.
    If we as adults don't stand up for the rights of our kids when multibillion dollar company is putting the screws to them who will?

  21. I am also experiencing the same issue and am at my 4th escalation in phone calls. I am not interested in canned internet responses. I have also recieved the same "unauthorized comments about Canadian Laws" I then pointed out the them that could not be true as I am able to purchase a gift card for my Wii and download software to it. I have been waiting more than 24 hours for a return phone call from an Apple Manager.

    To the ditz that claims you have brought this on yourself.......

    I purchased an Iphone and and Ipod touch for my son. At the time of purchase I was NEVER informed that I could not download apps to either unit. It wasn't until I had them home and was already using them that I downloaded Itunes. I did not read the disclaimer but then again I shouldn't have to. They certainly did not require me to have a credit card to buy the phone! I know have a phone that is pretty much like any other cheaper model that to me is useless without apps and definitely not worth the inflated price. I also went back the Telus and asked them about the Gift Card issue and they were not aware that you could not download Apps using the gift card.

    Apple has my money for a useless phone and also my gift card money and was decietful in taking it without full disclosure.

    I too will not give up until there is some sort of resolution. I am seriously considering a lawsuit on the issue. I see that paypal is available through their US store and US Gift Cards can purchase Apps as well. This cries of discrimination besides the theivary of them taking my money but not making all the services of the phone available to me.

    If you would like to get in contact with me Jim, please feel free to email me nancy@persona.ca

  22. f-wallet Says:

    jd & "™ ©",

    If I go online to make a purchase for some iTunes credit and don't read the ToU then it is my fault and this whole argument is ridiculous. But if I walk in to a Futureshop, pick up an iTunes card read it over and there is nothing on it that says I can not buy Apps. So I pay for it, get it home THEN I have access to the ToU, which I can only read AFTER I enter the code, then that is solely Apple's fault. Especially since they will refuse any reimbursement.

    Now I know that they have since added a disclaimmer to the cards...but not all of them. 4 days ago I saw a card that my local Futureshop just received and it said nothing on the card indicating that I can't use it to purchase Apps.

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