If a developer lowers the price of an app are we entitled to a partial refund?

If we’re moving to online commerce solutions, and the AppStore is going to be our medium of application sales for our mobile devices, then shouldn’t we be taking a moment to talk about sales policy, and whether or not consumers should be able to recoup sales prices.

For instance, today Tap Tap Revenge 3 was free on the iTunes store. I was super excited to download and try it out. I haven’t played a Tapulous game since the first Tap Tap Revenge was released. It was a win-win for me, but what about those people who purchased the application just before it was repriced, or offered for free? Are they entitled to compensation, much like we’re entitled to compensation on sales items in box stores? If so, what happens to the 30% that Apple took off the top of an App sale? Currently all refunds fall on the shoulders of developers, and despite what some might say, we’re completely entitled to refunds on applications that don’t meet our expectations.

It seems like a common problem, and I’m surprised that no one has brought it up yet. I haven’t had it happen to me personally, but I know some people who purchased an app a week ago, only to have it go to a free version this week. For the most part a dollar isn’t really with complaining about, but it’s the principle of the matter.

Do developers have an ethical duty to disclose that an application will be going free?

I’d argue that they do. I think that any time someone’s willing to pay money for an application, and the developer has decided to make the application free in the following days, refunds should be sent out. The problem is that the developer shouldn’t be on the hook for the 30% that Apple pocketed, but they should at the very least be doing everything in their power to reimburse the 70% in profits that they took in. If it applies to the rest of the sales world, then why doesn’t it apply on the AppStore? Do the have some kind of special status? I know really sure what the legalities are of all of this, considering I’m in Canada, and hopefully someone can fill me in. But, on the surface it seems a little unethical to be taking my full amount today, and giving away the application tomorrow.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear what people think about this.

Edit: Email’s in to Apple.  Hopefully I’ll have something else to add.

Joshua is the Content Marketing Manager at BuySellAds. He’s also the founder of Macgasm.net. And since all that doesn’t quite give him enough content to wrangle, he’s also a technology journalist in his spare time, with bylines at PCWorld, Macworld… Full Bio