Thoughts on Developing perspective 178

I listened to Developing perspective 178 where David Smith continues his series of discussions on things which could change or improve in Apple's app stores. One of his points of the day was to make refund policies clearer and more obvious. His idea was that this would make people feel more confident about spending on apps when they know they can be refunded, and that this would lift spending enough to offset any possible increase in refunds.

My gut reaction was to disagree with this, and I will speculate a bit around the idea. My thought is that the process is hidden because exposing it would increase clutter and confusion. I would also guess that it would increase refunds without any increase in customer happiness, possibly the opposite. If I do not even think there is a refund policy I have one less thing to worry about when making a purchase. Apple wants to make app shopping as much of a simple impulse purchase of an ice cream as possible, and improving the visibility of refunds would be akin to pusing a license agreement in your face every time, or handing out a really fancy receipt with lots of small print on refunds and refunds on every gum purchase. Sure, it does make refunds clearer. It also adds to the cognitive load of purchasing something, it makes all those details feel important, in need of consideration. I would love to never get a piece of paper when buying stuff, and I think Apple does more than enough for the regular case by emailing a receipt after the fact.

It is also a kind of building for success. If everyone is happy, there will be no refunds and any work on the process is wasted. Sure, this is never something one should do all the way, but I think there is often something to be gained by pushing a little bit more in that direction rather than the other. Put focus on making things good rather than handling every bad case fantastically. There is always the catch-all of contacting some kind of support (and the experience of using that should be as fantastic as possible). That is always there, and that can always handle the problem. Plus, without an exact process spelled out to everyone, support can be freer (this is speculation on top of speculation on top of unfounded theories) to pick good solutions for each case.

All of which is to say that I think making refunds more explicit would not really add anything for anyone.