Disappointing downloads – are our refund rights good enough?
Have you ever tried to get your money back on a music download, ebook, software download or app? Because when it comes to getting a refund on digital downloads, we may be at the mercy of the seller.
Getting your money back on a download is something of a grey area. The Sale of Goods Act and Distance Selling Regulations, which cover high street and online purchases, are more than 10 years old so it’s not surprising they don’t specifically cater for downloads. So, do we need download-specific shopping rights?
Current refund terms for downloads
Whether downloads are considered to be goods or services, if they don’t work properly you should be entitled to a refund or replacement. Download sellers are likely to account for this in their terms and conditions. For example, iTunes’ terms say:
‘You do not have the right to withdraw from a transaction once delivery of the product has started at which point your transaction is final.’
However, if you’ve received an unacceptably poor download the terms state that if it cannot be resolved ‘a refund may be provided’. So hopefully, this is good enough to ensure buyers aren’t coming up against any opposition when it comes to faulty downloads.
The danger of instant downloads
Downloads are instant and potentially some could be copied quite quickly. So if Distance Selling Regulations were to be applied fully, we’d have seven days to copy a download before we’d have to return it for a refund.
CDs and DVDs bought in shops are often non-refundable if you’ve broken the seal on the case, so not being able to return a music download isn’t far removed from the in-store shopping experience.
But what if you’ve accidentally downloaded a song twice, or downloaded the wrong item and you only realised once the download started? Depending on the seller’s terms you may not be able to get a refund even if you haven’t listened to it yet – the equivalent of not breaking the seal on CD packaging.
There are other examples too. What if you’re simply dissatisfied with a download or it doesn’t do what its description said it would? If you’ve paid for an app that turns out to be disappointing – where do you stand? I’m sure many of us have written off small amounts of money we’ve spent on a rubbish app.
Google’s Android Market previously gave buyers a “no questions asked” 24-48 hours to return an app, but that’s since been reduced to just 15 minutes. Then again, is it even right for someone to ask for a refund just because they found it “disappointing”? Perhaps we should be given the chance to try before we buy, so that we don’t find ourselves spending money on something we didn’t want in the first place?
We’re investigating and want to hear about your download experiences, particularly if you’ve had cause for a refund.
If download retailers are already serving consumers well, that’s great, but if you’re losing money on disappointing downloads there needs to be some protection.
Have you ever been disappointed with a digital download you’ve bought?
I’ve never paid for a download (33%, 139 Votes)
Yes – but I didn’t do anything about it (27%, 115 Votes)
No - I’ve only had good experiences (24%, 101 Votes)
Yes – and I was refused a refund (8%, 36 Votes)
Yes – and I received a refund (8%, 35 Votes)
Total Voters: 427
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