Wen Jing

  After a 3-day free trial of a calculator app, a quarterly fee of 58 yuan will be charged; an "air conditioner remote control" app will be charged 38 yuan a week after a 3-day free trial, but the cancellation must be completed within 2 days. And it can only be set in the Apple system, not in the application.

In addition, some cleaning, scanning, remote control and other apps are also frequently named.

  Many users said that there are some tool apps in the Apple App Store, which provide a few days of free trials to induce consumers to buy.

In this regard, the customer service said that unless the user cancels the subscription, most subscriptions will automatically renew.

Expert analysis believes that service revenue similar to software subscriptions has accounted for nearly 20% of Apple's revenue, so Apple must not only take a cut, but also provide more user-friendly services and strict supervision.

  Netizens complain

  Automatic high price renewal after free trial

  A few days ago, some netizens reported on the complaint platform that they downloaded a "copycat" calculator in the Apple App Store, but charged a fee of 240 yuan per year. Even if the app was deleted, it would continue to be charged. The app cancellation procedure is very complicated.

  A reporter from Beijing Youth Daily saw that an app called "Calculator HD" displayed "+×÷=" on its icon interface, which was similar to the calculator icon in the previous system.

After opening and clicking Continue, it displays: "All functions, 100% ad-free. Free trial for 3 days, after that, ¥58/quarter, all in-app functions can be fully accessed, no extra charge, no commitment, cancel at any time." For The service fee is 240 yuan a year. The following introduction states that its service content includes "you can use all key tones, long digital calculations, and multiplexing of operation records during the subscription period."

  After clicking Continue, the "Subscription" interface will continue to pop up. Users can try it for free for 3 days, and after 3 days, ¥58.00/3 months.

The policy shows that for non-mandatory consumption, you can cancel at any time in the settings at least one day before each renewal date; the plan will automatically renew until you cancel.

  Many users gave a one-star evaluation in the system rating: "Pretending to be free is actually maliciously deceiving to charge high membership fees, Apple lacks supervision, the experience is extremely poor, and there is no way to complain." "A calculator costs 58 yuan for three months. ,awesome."

  A reporter from Beiqing Daily saw that in the Apple App Store, there are many such tool apps that require high paid subscriptions, and many netizens complained that they charge too much.

  For example, in an "air conditioner remote control" app, you can choose "air conditioner" or "TV" after entering it. After the reporter of Beiqing Daily selects the air conditioner, he sees the pop-up "quarterly subscription - ¥68.00" or "subscribe after free trial".

Among them, the "Subscribe after free trial" option is brightly colored, which is very confusing and induces users to click.

However, if you look carefully, you will find a line of small words below, "3-day free trial, automatic renewal at a price of ¥28.00/month, and the subscription can be cancelled at any time."

That is to say, this subscription method is more expensive than the previous one, up to 336 yuan per year.

  So what is the company behind this app?

Click "About Us", only the icon of the App will be displayed, without any introduction of the company.

  uninstall useless

  Can trigger password-free payment to deduct fees in the background

  Many users commented that the "Air Conditioning Remote Control" App was "not useful at all": "After paying the money, it will turn around at one point, and then log out and re-enter and then buy again."

  Another "Smart Cleaner" that has been criticized by users online is an app that searches and deletes useless photos, videos and contacts. It claims to be "the most efficient device cleaner." and finishing tools".

  However, if you want to unlock all functions such as "Smart Cleanup", you must make a purchase, and users can choose "One-time payment - ¥68.00" "Free trial and subscription".

Likewise, the "Try and subscribe for free" option color is a contrasting color across the screen, which is very prominent and inductive.

However, there is also a small print below: "After a 3-day free trial, ¥38.00/week can be automatically renewed. No commitment is required, you can cancel at any time." Based on this calculation, users need to spend 456 yuan to subscribe to the software for one year.

  Some users commented below: "Scam software! It has been automatically deducted in the background!" "After downloading the software, a pop-up window will trigger Alipay's password-free payment, even if it is uninstalled, it will be deducted."

  In response to some of the comments, the developer also replied: "Sorry about this situation, if the subscription is not cancelled more than 24 hours before the renewal date, the subscription will be automatically renewed. You can cancel the app subscription in the iTunes settings."

  In addition, "Almighty Scanning King" is also an app that has received many complaints from users.

A reporter from the Beiqing Daily saw that when the app was opened, a few introductory pictures were drawn, and the last one displayed in a prominent orange font: "Receive a 7-day trial experience".

On it is written in small print, "Experience 7-day Premium Membership for free, and then automatically renew at a price of 258 yuan/year, experience period..." Among them, the words "Experience 7-day Premium Membership" are bolded in bold.

As soon as the user clicks the "Subscribe" button, they will purchase a one-year paid membership, which costs 258 yuan, and will automatically renew after the 7-day expiry of the previous experience period.

  The Beiqing Daily reporter saw that if the user does not purchase, he can continue to try other functions, but after almost every operation, even if the user wants to share the file, a prompt of "7-day trial 0 yuan" will pop up, which is written in small print below. "After ¥258/year", including its purchase button, it reads "Receive a 7-day trial experience". If users do not read carefully, they are very easily misled.

  At present, on multiple platforms, the app has received a large number of complaints from users, all because they were misled by the free experience and purchased the annual service.

"Inexplicably, I was deducted 258 yuan for a year, and I blame myself. When I downloaded this software, I didn't pay attention to it. I only saw that the trial is free for seven days. I thought there would be a prompt for the follow-up application, but the result was directly deducted. "


  Need to cancel in "Settings" uniformly

  Subscription service is a long-term purchase service in the Apple system. It is different from the "one-time purchase, lifetime enjoyment" that consumers know in the past. This type of subscription is charged according to the user's usage time, such as weekly, monthly, etc. by year.

  However, because the purchase of services in the Apple Store must be subject to Apple's commission, and it is impossible to bypass Apple to purchase directly in the App.

Therefore, if users want to cancel, they should also unsubscribe from Apple's "Settings", but cannot directly cancel the subscription by deleting the software, canceling in the App, etc.

  On the Apple support page, the user is specifically informed of the specific steps to cancel the subscription.

First, launch the Settings app on the home screen and tap your name at the top of the screen; second, tap the subscribe button; third, tap the subscription you want to cancel; fourth, tap the "unsubscribe" button at the bottom .

If you don't have a "Cancel Subscription" or "Cancel Trial" button on the subscription management screen, your App Store subscription will not automatically renew.

In addition, users can cancel subscriptions through Mac and PC systems.

  Apple advises that most subscriptions automatically renew unless cancelled.

If you signed up for a free or discounted trial subscription but do not wish to renew, you must cancel your subscription at least 24 hours before the end of the trial period.

  That is to say, for apps such as the "3-day free trial" above, the subscription needs to be cancelled within 2 days of downloading, and if it exceeds 48 hours, the first fee will be deducted.

  Through consulting customer service, the Beiqing Daily reporter learned that whether the user deletes the software will not affect the app renewal service. If you want to cancel the subscription, you must completely follow the process.

  In this regard, some people questioned whether these apps can still continue to "fraud" due to the poor review of the Apple Store.

It is understood that "in-app purchases" in software on the App Store need to be paid using the Apple Pay system, and Apple will take a 15% to 30% commission from it, which is the so-called "Apple tax".

Of these high fees charged by the above-mentioned software, a fixed percentage also needs to be handed over to Apple.

  According to Apple’s third-quarter financial report in 2022, Apple’s software business achieved operating income of $19.6 billion, including the above-mentioned service income, a year-on-year increase of 12.2%.

In the past few years, Apple's software business has maintained a relatively high growth rate and has become a new engine driving Apple's revenue growth.

Data show that from 2013 to 2021, Apple's service revenue increased from $16.051 billion to $68.425 billion, and the revenue share increased from 9.39% to 18.7%.

  Expert analysis

  Apple App Store's weak review of software fees for reasonableness

  So, is this "free trial + paid subscription" model reasonable?

  In this regard, Major General Ding, an independent analyst, believes that it is necessary to consider whether the renewal mechanism of "subscription-based applications" is user-friendly. If the initiative of subscription is given to users, and the initiative of renewal belongs to users, similar problems can theoretically be avoided.

Of course, this also requires users to be cautious about subscription, renewal and other functions during use; if the default "automatic renewal" and it is difficult to cancel, it will inevitably cause trouble to users.

  He believes that there are two possible reasons why these apps still exist: one is that they have not violated Apple’s relevant rules, and the other is that as far as Apple is concerned, the service business is an important part of its business system, and it once took the lead in various businesses , is also the focus of Apple's transformation. In the environment where the hardware breakthrough environment is not very friendly, how to further enhance the revenue of services is also what it must pay attention to.

"The provision of services should not be mechanized and stylized, but more flexible and humanized. Apple may still have a lot of work to do in this regard."

  Sun Yanbiao, an analyst in the mobile phone industry, mentioned another key point: "The difference between Apple mobile phones and other mobile phones is that as soon as you use its system, it requires your account to be bound with a credit card or other payment account. In fact, this binding Sun Yanbiao said that subscription services are one of Apple's sources of income, and paid subscriptions are gradually becoming a trend, unlike the previous way of "buying copyrights".

  Pan Helin, co-director and researcher of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center of Zhejiang University International Business School, said in an interview with a reporter from Beiqing Daily, "The Apple App Store is a closed system, and Apple still has a review on the security of applications. Because this involves the security of Apple's IOS and other operating systems, the audit is much weaker for the reasonableness of charges. Apple's developer group is very large, and there are inevitably some who want to be opportunistic, so they use Apple's audit loopholes to launch unreasonable The paid app. Since the app has to be opened to know the function, users who don’t know the truth will be fooled.”

  As for how consumers can avoid being "pitted", Major General Ding suggested that consumers still need to pay attention to whether the application itself charges and what the charging standards are, and be cautious in making choices about "subscription" and "renewal", especially try to avoid opening any "automatic" Deduction" business, try to avoid problems from the source as much as possible.

  Pan Helin suggested that, in fact, it is mainly through the user evaluation mechanism in the App Store to make decisions for download and consumption. Consumers can focus on the negative reviews of these apps, so as not to be misled by the positive reviews.

As for consumers who accidentally subscribe, because Apple uses its own payment system, it is suggested that consumers should be given the right to regret. Many platforms have refund mechanisms, and Apple can improve this aspect.

  Driven by interests, there will always be people who will take advantage of the rules of the game.

"I look forward to stricter supervision, and only the supervision of laws or competent authorities can prompt Apple and relevant stakeholders to pay attention to and change this issue," said Sun Yanbiao.