Jeff Johnson: ‘Apple Started Cheating Me Out of App Store Bundle Purchases’ [Update: Resolved]

Jeff Johnson:

I’ve discovered that starting in February, Apple mistakenly subtracts the price of the previously purchased app twice from the proceeds of a “Complete My Bundle” purchase, thereby causing me to take a loss on each such bundle purchase. This accounting change has cost me thousands of dollars over the past few months.

Long story short, Johnson has a years-old Safari extension power user tool called StopTheMadness, which typically cost $10. Last year he released StopTheMadness Pro, which costs $15. Because the App Store doesn’t support upgrade pricing, Johnson created a bundle that includes both versions. Because StopTheMadness Pro is a superset of the non-pro version, the only reason the bundle exists is to allow people who previously purchased the regular version to upgrade to StopTheMadness Pro for the difference between $15 and the price they paid for the regular version.

The way it should work — and for the first few months of the bundle, did work — is that Apple should subtract the price the user originally paid from the $15 price of the bundle. Starting in February, Apple effectively began subtracting the price the user originally paid twice.

Surely this is a bug, not an attempt by Apple to swindle developers. But, how surprised are you that this bug, left unfixed, works in Apple’s favor, not the other way around? If Apple were erroneously paying developers too much, rather than too little, I’m guessing it would be fixed already.

Update: Jeff Johnson, a few hours after I posted:

Good news, everyone!

I just received a phone call from an Apple representative. They confirmed that there was indeed a software bug in the bundle pricing calculation, which was fixed yesterday. They also said that affected developers, such as myself, would be compensated for our lost revenue.

That’s all I know for now. I was told that I would also be receiving a follow-up email later.

The conversation was pleasant, and the Apple representative was very nice about it.

Wednesday, 15 May 2024