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Apple’s App Store can now increase subscription prices without asking

There are still some restrictions, however.

apple app store logo with blurred background
Image: KnowTechie

The Apple App Store is rolling out new rules about auto-renewing subscriptions. Now, in some situations, your apps will increase in price regardless if you gave developers permission to increase the monthly or annual subscription cost.

Yes, that means any of your existing subscriptions billed through the App Store could increase at any time. Apple says developers can only raise prices once a year without requiring an opt-in.

They also can’t increase prices more than $5 or 50% for weekly or monthly subscriptions; or $50 and 50% for annual subscriptions.

So, what is Apple’s reasoning for the change? Supposedly, the company doesn’t want users to lose access to their subscriptions if they miss an opt-in message.

The thing is, you’d have to miss emails, push notifications, and in-app messages for that to happen. Is that possible? Yes. Is it likely? No, not really.

In allowing this auto-renewal feature, Apple is likely on the wrong side of consumer law, at least in the state of California. Apple paid $16.5 million in 2018 to settle a lawsuit over its in-app subscription auto-renewal practices.

See, California has an Automatic Renewal Law. One of the requirements is that companies need to “obtain subscribers’ affirmative consent” to renewal terms. That isn’t happening with the new App Store rules. Instead, subscribers are simply being notified that the price increases are happening.

That puts Apple on course for another lawsuit about its App Store policies. It might also get the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its back, as they’re ramping up enforcement against companies that don’t obtain consumers’ informed consent.

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