The answer to that question is ‘maybe’ according to the results of our latest download investigation. However, download refund rights are sketchy at present, so do you want some clarity about your rights?
Maybe you’ve never paid for a download in your life? There are plenty of free smartphone apps out there. However, it’s certainly a popular way to shop for music fans – last month the British Recorded Music Association announced digital album sales had reached 21.3 million copies for the year to date.
And it’s not just about music and apps. We’re downloading software, games and ebooks too. But where do you stand if something goes wrong, or you mistakenly buy a download?
What are my download rights?
Distance Selling Regulations give you seven days from the day after you receive goods – or seven working days from the day after you sign up for services – to change your mind about an online purchase. But there’s no certainty as to whether Distance Selling Regulations even apply to downloads – are they goods, services or something else?
In the absence of any overarching download purchasing rights, you’re left with having to look at the individual policies of retailers themselves.
Our download investigation
In our investigation we looked at the refund policies and terms of sale for popular download retailers, including iTunes and Amazon. Policies tended to be very clear about your refund rights, but not in a good way. Seven out of the nine policies we looked at, with regard to ebook and music downloads, could be summarised as saying ‘downloads are non-refundable’.
However, what they actually did was another matter. We managed to get a reimbursement of some kind in almost 80% of cases where we said we’d made a purchase by mistake.
In the end it seemed clear that most retailers were using their discretion when judging whether to refund a customer’s download purchase.
‘Broken’ download rights
If a download doesn’t work properly (i.e it’s broken) we would expect customers to be refunded. And commenter Martin told us on our last download rights Conversation that Apple had met that challenge:
‘To be fair to iTunes, I downloaded a file that wouldn’t play and they were quick to refund my credit and let me try again.’
So, is there a problem or are retailers handling refund requests well by themselves?
From the results of our download refunds poll, it looks like lots of you need clarity about what their rights actually are. Around a third of voters said they’d been disappointed with a download, but didn’t do anything about it. And a further one in ten said they’d been refused a refund. We’ve reopened this poll below, so you too can have your say by voting.
There is progress being made with regards to our download rights as part of the new EU Consumer Rights Directive, but it could be up to two years before this takes effect. If lots of consumers are losing money on faulty or poor downloads then surely we need action sooner.
So, if you’ve ever had a bad experience with a download you’ve paid for, or been refused a refund, we want to hear about it.
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