Controversial “Apple Tax”

“Minors recharge on the gaming platform and contact Apple for no refund.”

“As an App development platform, Android phones do not charge service fees when users make virtual top-ups, but Apple charges 30% service fees. This has led to complaints from users that we are familiar with big data, and charges are different on Apple phones and Android phones.”

Controversial "Apple Tax"

“If you recharge a member with the same account, the charge on the Apple terminal is higher than that on the Android terminal.”

A reporter from the Beijing News noted that since 2017, disputes about the “Apple Tax” have frequently appeared on social platforms and news reports. Apple takes a 15% to 30% commission on the sales of virtual goods in the developer’s App, which is called the “Apple tax” in the industry, and this part is ultimately paid for by consumers.

In 2017, WeChat closed the tipping function because Apple failed to negotiate the tipping issue of 30% of users. At that time, Toutiao, Zhihu, and Inke Platform were among those who experienced the encounter together. Apple clearly stipulates in the “Apple Developer Agreement” on its official website that “Global payment processing is handled by Apple” and “Developers retain 70% of sales revenue.”

Apple has not changed the rules on the commission for many years, and Apple mobile phone users must download software through the App Store and use Apple Pay to pay. Many domestic and foreign users and software developers have sued Apple for alleged monopoly in the court. Many states in the United States have tried to legislate for users to use third-party payment platforms and download channels; the European Legislative Council is also discussing whether there is a monopoly on Apple’s mobile phones; my country’s Shanghai Intellectual Property Court accepted the dispute between users and Apple in February. The monopoly dispute case has been filed.

A reporter from the Beijing News found that the price of virtual goods purchased by Apple mobile phone users is generally higher than that for Android mobile phone users. In this regard, customer service personnel of many platforms said that the reason for this difference is that Apple mobile phone users can only pay through Apple’s own Platform Apple Pay payment, during this period Apple will charge a certain percentage of fees.

A number of Apple mobile phone users told the Beijing News reporter that they are facing difficulties in refunding fees. my country’s law clearly stipulates that online games paid by minors can be refunded. However, Xiaoye who has encountered this problem said that the refund of virtual goods recharged through Apple Pay needs to be initiated by Apple, and after the game company promises to refund, Apple does not The reasons for compliance with the regulations have not yet been processed.

Netizens complained that Apple mobile phones charge service fees during the recharge process and it is difficult to refund the fees

Among the numerous complaints about Apple mobile phones, the most frequently reflected “recharge service fees”, “difficult refunds”, “virtual goods sold at a higher price than the Android system”, “automatic renewal cannot be suspended for deductions and refunds”. Among them, there were more than 21,000 related issues on the Black Cat Complaint Platform alone.

Black Cat Complaint is a third-party consumer service platform. After review and approval of consumer complaints, they will be transferred to the complained company for processing. The platform will update the progress of “replied” and “completed”. As for the complaint against Apple on the Black Cat platform, there has not been a single reply since the platform went online in 2018.

Ms. Jia from Yuncheng, Shanxi, told the Beijing News that on January 16 this year, her 12-year-old child used his mobile phone to top up a game app called “My Talking Tom” with hundreds of yuan, and then she gave Apple’s official customer service called to apply for a refund. However, both applications for refunds ended in failure. At that time, Apple responded to her that consumers need to directly seek refunds from gaming companies.

Then, Ms. Jia contacted the “My Talking Tom” game company (Guangzhou Jinke Culture Technology Co., Ltd.). The company stated that its games are on the Apple channel, and Apple will charge 30% of the game recharge process. cost. The game company can only refund 70% of the fee, and the remaining 30% needs to be communicated to Apple for the refund.

At the request of the game company, Ms. Jia provided her with a recharge voucher, and at the same time, she took photos of the child and account information to prove that it was a minor consumption. After the review, the game company promised that 70% of the top-up amount will be returned and credited within 15 days.

Regarding the 30% returned by Apple, Ms. Jia contacted Apple’s official customer service again, and the answer was still that the refund was not possible, and the game company had to ask for a refund.

Ms. Jia posted her refund experience on the Black Cat Complaint Platform, Weibo, Zhihu, and Douyin, and privately wrote the official accounts of the two companies. After Apple noticed Ms. Jia’s complaint on the online platform, she took the initiative to call to deal with it. “Apple’s customer service asked for basic information such as the child’s age, and promised to refund it in full.”

On February 24, Apple refunded 30% of the top-up amount to Ms. Jia’s account, and the game company refunded the remaining 70% on February 25. The full refund time was more than one month after Ms. Jia’s complaint.

Netizen Xiaoye told the Beijing News reporter that his child played games on February 25th and 26th to recharge 4936 yuan. After finding out on February 27th, he applied to Apple for a refund. The next day Apple responded that it did not meet the refund regulations. , Need to find a game company, the next day the game company approved and agreed to refund, but said that the refund needs to be initiated by Apple, and Apple has not processed it yet.

The price of virtual goods on the Apple side is generally higher than that on the Android side

A reporter from the Beijing News found that some of the software that was downloaded for free on the Android system requires a paid download on the Apple mobile phone. For the paid membership service of the same software, the recharge price on the Apple side is higher than that on the Android side.

Among the popular music download software, the one-month, three-month, and six-month membership services of NetEase Cloud Music App are priced at 16 yuan, 45 yuan, and 88 yuan on the Android side, and 18 yuan, 50 yuan, and 93 yuan on the Apple side. . In addition, the price of automatic renewal on the Apple side is 2 yuan more expensive than the Android side.

The QQ Music App provides one-month, three-month and one-year membership recharge services. The price of a single monthly membership purchase on the Android side is 15 yuan, while the monthly price on the Apple side is 18 yuan, and the Apple side is about 20% more expensive. For the other two membership services, the top-up price on Android and Apple is the same.

In video apps, the prices of iQiyi’s continuous annual and seasonal subscriptions are 218 yuan and 58 yuan on the Apple side, which are 80 yuan and 23 yuan higher than those on the Android side. The prices of the rest of the VIP members are the same on the Apple side and the Android side.

The price of Tencent Video VIP member’s Android terminal is 20 yuan for a single month and 15 yuan for a monthly subscription, while the Apple client’s 25-month monthly and a monthly subscription is 19 yuan, which are more than 25% more expensive than the Android terminal. The price for other long-term members is the same.

At the same time, a reporter from the Beijing News found that Baidu Netdisk ranked first in the application market efficiency category, providing monthly, quarterly, and annual membership services. In the state of non-continuous monthly subscription, the price of the super member SVIP Android terminal is 30 yuan, 86 yuan, and 298 yuan respectively. The price of the Apple terminal is 40 yuan, 113 yuan, and 388 yuan respectively. The three member prices of the Apple terminal are more than 30% more expensive than the Android terminal.

▲The “My Member” page of Baidu Netdisk shows that the recharge price of one-month, three-month, and one-year membership on Apple phones is much higher than that of Android phones. App screenshot
In addition, when users of Jinjiang Novel Reading App purchase Jinjiang Coins, the purchase page shows that Apple mobile phone users will deduct a 40% handling fee for using this channel. The Android terminal is 50 yuan and 5000 Jinjiang coins; after deducting the handling fee, the Apple terminal can only purchase 3,000 Jinjiang coins for 50 yuan.

The Tik Tok app, which ranks number one in the ranking of photography and video recording on the Apple side, has 80, 884, and 1544 less TikTok coins purchased with a recharge of 30 yuan, 298 yuan, and 518 yuan on the Apple side, respectively, than the same amount purchased on the Android side. .

However, a reporter from the Beijing News found that Boss Direct Hiring, Maoer FM, Meituan and other apps have the same membership prices on the Apple and Android devices.

The platform was charged by Apple for service fees and passed on to consumers

Regarding the situation that the price of the above-mentioned virtual goods on the Apple side is higher than that on the Android side, the customer service of many platforms responded that because Apple mobile phones can only use the Apple payment system, they cannot use Alipay, WeChat, bank cards and other methods like Android phones. Apple The company will charge a service fee during the payment process, and the refund must be contacted with Apple.

NetEase Cloud Music online customer service responded that the price of recharging NetEase Cloud Music members on the Apple side is indeed more expensive than that on the Android side. The reason is that Apple will charge 30% of the channel service fee. The purchase price through the web is the same as the Android side. If you want to refund the fee, you need to contact Apple customer service.

Jinjiang customer service also responded similarly, saying that the normal price of Jinjiang Coin is 100 yuan, and Apple will charge 40% of the channel service fee. Therefore, the Jinjiang Coin purchased on the Apple mobile phone for the same fee will be less than the Android end. Paying with Alipay on Jinjiang’s official website is the normal price.

▲When Apple users use the Jinjiang Novel Reading App to recharge, the instructions clearly stipulate that “40% handling fee is deducted”. App screenshot
At the same time, Douyin phone customer service stated that a 30% handling fee will be deducted for payment on the Apple mobile phone. You can enjoy the normal price for purchases on the official website. Douyin coins do not accept refunds. If Apple needs a refund, you can try to contact Apple.

Regarding the issue of high prices and difficulty in refunding fees, reporters from the Beijing News successively called two different customer service numbers of Apple in the afternoon of March 9. The first customer service stated that Apple is only used as a payment platform, the member price is set by a third-party platform, and the 30% channel service fee “temporarily does not exist”. It is recommended that users consult related software platforms. The customer service also said that they would not comment on the platform’s statement. If you need a refund, you can try to apply for a refund on the Apple reporting problem website.

The second Apple customer service said that they did not understand the relevant situation of Apple’s 30% channel service fee, and it is recommended to contact a third-party platform if you have any questions about the price.

A reporter from the Beijing News inquired about the “Apple Developer Agreement” on Apple’s official website, showing that “global payment processing is handled by Apple” and “developers retain 70% of sales revenue.”

▲In the “Apple Developer Agreement” on Apple’s official website, Apple clearly charges 15%-30% of the developer’s sales of virtual goods. webpage Screenshot
Domestic and foreign users and software developers sued the court for Apple’s monopoly

A reporter from the Beijing News combed through public reports and found that there were netizens and lawyers discussing the issue of high service fees charged by Apple phones and higher prices for virtual goods purchased on Apple phones than Android phones five years ago. The United States and There are also some countries in the European Union that are discussing monopoly and anti-monopoly, as well as legislative control issues.

Apple’s mobile phone only uses its own App Store to download apps, and it clearly requires that Apple’s payment channels must be used for virtual transactions, and a fee of 15% to 30% is charged. If there is a function of using a third-party payment system in the App, there is a risk of being taken off the shelf. In 2017, many domestic apps were removed from the shelves for failing to comply with Apple’s regulations.

A reporter from the Beijing News found that in the “Developer Terms” issued by Apple, it is stipulated that mobile phone users should “reward” the original author in the App software, which is an “in-app purchase”, and Apple will pay 30% of the reward value. % Collect a commission from the author of the Apple mobile phone terminal. In 2017, Tencent’s WeChat closed the reward function because it did not negotiate with Apple on the issue.

This year, after North Dakota tried to pass legislation to fight for users to use third-party App Store rights and failed, Minnesota and Arizona introduced new bills to try to promote Apple’s opening of App download channels and reduce the control of developers. .

According to foreign media reports, Spotify, the world’s largest online music service provider, filed a complaint with the European Commission about the monopoly of Apple’s software store for user consumption by Apple. Sources recently disclosed that the European Commission’s allegations against Apple include restricting competitors other than “Apple Music” (Apple’s own online music service), putting opponents at a disadvantage and affecting consumers’ right to choose.

At the same time, some British media reported that the British government’s anti-monopoly department has launched an investigation into the terms of the Apple Software Store’s agreement against developers. Investigations will be conducted on whether these terms are fair and whether they violate the UK’s antitrust laws. In addition, Japan’s Lotte Group also filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union.

In addition, a reporter from the Beijing News noted that in January this year, Apple mobile phone users sued Apple to the court for a single payment channel and download channel. The client Jin Xin told the Beijing News reporter that when he purchased app members such as iQiyi, Himalaya, and NetEase Cloud, he found that Apple mobile phones can only be used for payment with Apple Pay. The pricing of the mobile phones is higher than that on Android phones, and it was later discovered that Apple charges a 30% service fee.” Jinxin said that during the payment, he did not see the reminder to charge the service fee and could not return the Apple phone. , Being deprived of consumers’ right to choose and fair transactions. He believes that Apple’s move is an abuse of market dominance and unfair high price behavior, suspected of monopoly.

Jinxin requested in the indictment to order Apple and Apple Computer Trading (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. to immediately stop abusing their market dominance, including but not limited to: stop “in-app purchases” from receiving unfairly high commissions of 30% of the transaction amount Behavior; stop requiring that “in-app purchases” can only choose Apple Pay for mandatory tying behavior; stop restricting transactions and rejecting transactions. The “Notice of Acceptance” provided by Jinxin shows that the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court accepted its monopoly dispute with Apple in February and has now opened the case.

▲In January 2021, Apple user Jin Xin believed that Apple’s mobile phone restrictions on users’ App download channels, payment channels, and collection of service fees were suspected of being a monopoly, and sued Apple to court. The Shanghai Intellectual Property Court accepted the case in February this year. Photo courtesy of the interviewee
Controversy over whether Apple constitutes a monopoly

Zhao Zhanzhan, a special researcher at the Intellectual Property Center of China University of Political Science and Law and a lawyer at Beijing Yunlin Law Firm, told the Beijing News that Apple as a platform to charge software service providers 15% to 30% of the channel service fee is a market behavior and does not violate my country’s existing by law.

Zhao Zhanzhu believes that software service providers have the right to set their own prices. It is reasonable to set different sales prices for Apple mobile phone users and Android mobile phone users. Consumers can choose not to buy or purchase through the Android system, but consumers should be clearly informed. To fully respect consumers’ right to know and to choose.

Article 17 of my country’s Anti-Monopoly Law stipulates that “operators with a dominant market position are prohibited from selling goods at unfairly high prices or buying goods at unfairly low prices.” Zhao Zhanzhu believes that Apple mobile phones are not consumers Necessities, other brands of mobile phones can be used, consumers have the right not to use Apple mobile phones, so Apple does not constitute a monopoly.

Lawyer Wang Qiongfei, the co-founder of Zhejiang Kenting Law Firm, holds a different view. He said that Apple takes a 15% to 30% commission on the sales of virtual goods in the developer App, which is called the “Apple Tax” in the industry.

The “Apple tax” is actually for developers, but in order to ensure their own profits, developers often increase sales prices and pass on the “Apple tax” to consumers, increasing consumer costs.

In addition, Apple does not allow the use of third-party payment systems to complete paid downloads of applications, and does not allow applications to have built-in third-party payment systems for applications

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