Apple hit with class action over iTunes double-billing


A New York man claims Apple (s appl) charged him twice for the same song on iTunes and then refused to give him his money back.

Now New York resident Robert Herskowitz wants to represent everyone in the country in the same boat. In a complaint filed in San Francisco, Herskowitz wants Apple to pay back everyone who was allegedly charged for double downloads. He also wants special damages and for Apple to change its refund policy.

The case appears to hinge on the terms of service for the iTunes store which requires all users to agree to its no refund policy.

The iTunes rules provide for a refund only if an item doesn’t download or if there are technical problems.

Herskowitz’s complaint stems from December of 2010 when he downloaded 22 songs from iTunes. He claims that he was billed twice for one of them, paying $2.58 rather than $1.29 for “Whataya Want from Me.” The song is by an American Idol runner-up.

Herskowitz claims he wrote to Apple to recover the $1.29 but simply received an automated reply that described the no refund policy.

The lawsuit is based on breach of contract and on California consumer protection laws.

Apple is also facing a separate iTunes related class action brought by parents over so-called “bait apps” — apps that are free but on which children can rack up bills through in-app purchases.

Apple did not immediately reply to an email request for comment.

You can view the complaint at Justia which was first to report it.



Ive never had a problem with iTunes. Once when I had a problem downloading a video as part of a season pass they replied back and I went through a process of trying to fix it. For some reason the pass was broken and I couldn’t download one episode, so Apple gave me a full refund an allowed me to keep the shows I had already downloaded. That was great customer service to me. Also I bought a song twice without knowing it and Apple automatically sent me out a voucher code for one free song or video to make up for it.

I don’t see this class action lasting too long. IANAL though.

Michael W. Perry

Stopping after an automated reply isn’t very impressive in today’s world. You’ve got to call and reach a real person if you want action. My hunch is that this Robert Herskowitz didn’t try very hard, perhaps as a ploy to justify a class action lawsuit that’ll enrich lawyers who’ll be billing $300 and hour up, but be on no value to Apple customers, who’ll find their filing hassle so great, they’ll be getting a few dollars an hour for their time.

If the legal profession had any real ethics–a real dubious if–it’d disbar lawyers who file class actions suits that enrich themselves but are so filled with hassles as to be worthless for the clients they claim to represent. In a lot of such disputes, it’s easy to suspect that the settlement hinges on enriching the suing lawyers by paying them well while making getting payments such a hassle, the company they sued doesn’t have to pay out much.

Of course, Apple is far from innocent here. It shouldn’t be that hard to create software that goes through all their billings and refunds all double charges. That’s something they should be doing every month like clockwork. Like the ‘bait apps’ for kids, Apple is getting stuck with a lawsuit not issuing prompt and customer-friendly refunds. That’s one area where Amazon clearly has Apple beat.

Matthew Elvey

Before filing, don’t you have to send a formal demand letter. At least that’s the norm before filing a lawsuit, in my experience. IANAL.

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