App Store WTF of the Week: DealMachine for Real Estate

[Update, 20 March: Turns out that DealMachine was exempt from being required to use IAP, ostensibly because physical products/goods are sold as part of their subscription. But, as of this update, DealMachine is now using IAP. Original post below.]

Message from a DF reader:

I came across an app that’s getting away with directly linking to a website to start a subscription instead of IAP. It’s a straightforward violation of App Store rules in the US. If you look at reviews, a lot of people complain about fraudulent charges and not being able to cancel. But apparently Apple hasn’t stopped them yet.

I downloaded the app and signed up; immediately after confirming your email address, you get sent to a screen in the app where you choose from account tiers to begin a free trial. The lowest tier is $100/month, the highest is $500/month. And after making your selection, you get sent to this page on DealMachine’s website to pay using Stripe. (That link won’t actually work, because I omitted the tracking code portion of the URL for the throwaway account I created, so here’s a screenshot.) Not only are they circumventing in-app payments, they don’t even offer using them as a choice.

Here’s a review from their App Store Listing:

No Customer Support / Rough
Their annual plan is over a thousand dollars. I haven’t used their service in months. The renewal comes around, they charge me another thousand dollars. I reach out to get a refund, all I get is a robot.

I don’t think DealMachine is a scam. Stripe is as legit as it gets. But when you handle payments on your own, you handle refunds and subscription cancellations on your own too. Renewal reminders too. And if you don’t send renewal reminders, customers don’t get them. And if you don’t feel like issuing a refund for a $1,000/year subscription that a customer wanted to cancel but didn’t, you can let the customer sort it out with their credit card company. All that stuff works awesome, from the user’s perspective, with Apple’s App Store payment system. So DealMachine offers a taste of what our friends in the EU may be getting from marketplace apps soon.

Tuesday, 12 March 2024