How to Get a Refund for an iPhone App
If you bought an iPhone app and it didn’t work on your device due to technical failures or limitations, or perhaps the app purchase was made in error by a child or someone else using your device, you may be eligible for a refund from Apple. Apple will selectively refund app purchases, though it’s not without limits, and there must be a compelling reason to receive the app refund.
This tutorial will show you how to request an app refund from Apple for an iPhone app or iPad app.
How to Get a Refund for an iPhone App
The process for claiming a refund is easy, here are the steps:
- Launch iTunes
- Click on iTunes Store
- Login to your iTunes account, if you’re already logged in click on your email in the upper right corner of iTunes
- Click on “Purchase History”
- Select the app that you want a refund for
- Click on “Report a Problem”
- Fill out the form detailing the problem with the app purchase and why you want a refund
- Optionally, if the iTunes approach fails, you can use Apple’s web form instead to speak with an Apple Representative
- Submit the problem report and wait for a response from Apple
The amount of time you have to wait varies, but it’s usually a pretty quick claims process as the app refund is credited back to the account.
Apple will deny unreasonable refund requests, “I didn’t like the app” is generally not a valid reason for a refund (although I’m sure there are exceptions). Also, requests for a refund because of some other silly reason will almost certainly be denied. The refund request must be legitimate. There is probably some leeway involved, and refunds could even come down on a case-by-case basis.
Technical problems limiting the functionality of the app or preventing it from launching completely are probably valid claims for an app refund, as are other egregious issues, but all refunds are given at Apple’s discretion. It doesn’t hurt to ask though, so if you are curious feel free to reach out to Apple to see if they can solve the problem you are having with the app purchase, and if not, perhaps you can get a refund.
Apple actually addresses refunds in their iTunes terms and conditions, though the verbiage has changed a little over time as they update their TOC page, likely to reflect different uses of the platform and apps.
Here’s the newer official refund policy, from 2018, found under the “PAYMENTS, TAXES, AND REFUNDS” section of the iTunes Terms & Conditions:
If technical problems prevent or unreasonably delay delivery of Content, your exclusive and sole remedy is either replacement of the Content or refund of the price paid, as determined by Apple. From time to time, Apple may refuse a refund request if we find evidence of fraud, refund abuse, or other manipulative behavior that entitles Apple to a corresponding counterclaim.
And for posterity, here was the official refund policy from 2010, also cited from the iTunes Store Terms & Conditions:
All sales and rentals of products are final.
Prices for products offered via the Services may change at any time, and the Services do not provide price protection or refunds in the event of a price reduction or promotional offering.
If a product becomes unavailable following a transaction but prior to download, your sole remedy is a refund. If technical problems prevent or unreasonably delay delivery of your product, your exclusive and sole remedy is either replacement or refund of the price paid, as determined by Apple.
You’ll not the language is a bit different, and that’s because Apple can change their Terms & Conditions at any time, so the refund policy may change to reflect any adjustments again in the future. Regardless, you can always try to get a refund, and if you feel like an app is not what you expected due to a technical failure or incompatibility, or some other obvious problem, then you can reach out to Apple and see if they will remedy the issue for you, or request a refund for the app that is problematic.
While Apple officially says that all sales are final, in practice this is not always the case, as technical claims have resulted in refunds, and sometimes accidental purchases do too. And yes while the focus is primarily here on the iPhone apps, obviously this refund process is the same for an iPad or any other iOS app too bought from the App Store.
So the bottom line is this; if you bought an app that isn’t working due to a technical problem, you can almost certainly get a refund. If you bought an app that isn’t what you expected due to some other problem, or the purchase was made accidentally, you can still try to get a refund too, but it might be up to the discretion of Apple whether or not to approve the refund or not. Regardless, it’s worth a try.