Apple has updated its policies on App Store, allowing subscriptions to auto-renew without permission from users, whether the developer has raised the monthly or annual subscription fee.
Apple issued a statement on 16 May 2022, explaining it could save consumers the hassle of having their subscriptions automatically cancelled when they didn’t see the notification or email that asked them to opt in to the price increase, “This has led to some services being unintentionally interrupted for users and they must take steps to resubscribe within the app, from Settings on iPhone and iPad, or in the App Store on Mac,” the company added.
Before the rule change, users would have to manually opt-into a subscription renewal if it came with a price bump. Therefore the move is seen to be a rather “quiet and off-the radar” one by Apple. In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Jeffery Hau, director of Prizm Group HK, said Apple explained that price increment notifications will be sent to users before processing the auto renewal, but ironically the rationale to implement this new policy is because users tend to miss or ignore the notifications requesting renewal consent. Hau believes that Apple should have plenty of data showing a majority of users are not renewing most of their app subscriptions as they are subscribed to more apps and web services, so the policy was implemented to minimise the dropout rate.
Hau also added that when the users are being charged without their consent, they might not perceive that as the policy change of Apple, instead they might blame the brand for the action. “Brands should probably take the proactive role to remind the users of the price change or auto renewal. At the end, users will file complaints, request a refund, or even post negative reviews on App Store, which is definitely not something a brand wants in the long run.”
Meanwhile, Daniel Lo, founder and CEO of GoGoChart, said he understands the policy adjustment was treated as a commercial strategy of the company, as Apple often slightly changes its policy, “just that because the current change involves money, it arouses more attention of users.”
Lo also agreed that Apple could be more transparent in the decision of policy change by educating users via videos on social media, “I’m sure long term users of popular paid apps like Spotify won’t unsubscribe due to a small rise in subscription fee, as long as the communication is conducted properly.”
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