Apple refunding all purchases of Peace app


Apple notified me this afternoon that they’ll be proactively refunding all purchases of Peace. It will probably take a few days to process.

As far as I know, this effectively never happens. When I decided to pull the app, I asked some Apple friends if this was even possible, and we all thought the same thing: iTunes billing works the way it works, period, and no special cases can be made.

Today, Apple made the decision for me, in a way that I didn’t even think was possible, and I’m actually happy — or at least, as happy as someone can be who just made a lot of money on a roller coaster of surprise, guilt, and stress, then lost it all suddenly in a giant, unexpected reset that actually resolves things pretty well.

Marco ends up with zero, jumped through many hoops to do what he thought was right.

Any complaints?

  • Shawn

    Yes. He could gift the app source code to someone else.

    • growmac

      Afaik Ghostery are getting the source code

    • Wouldn’t that nullify his choice? He recommended other ad blockers for people who want them. He doesn’t want to contribute to ad blocking.

      I use tracking blockers. I’ve decided the sites I visit deserve to get paid, but not if they allow someone to track me from their website.

      It’s not that I feel sorry for websites that abuse us through ads. Their smug “tough noogies” to newspapers for losing revenue to Internet sites pissed me off, because that trend killed the job I loved. So I have no sympathy now that it’s happening to them.

      • Shawn

        Well he’s apparently giving the source code to Ghostery (as other commenters have pointed out) so he’s not against it.

  • freediverx

    For those who want to keep the app, I hope this doesn’t mean Apple will proactively delete it from our devices.

    • eigerly


    • The app relies on Marco’s copy of the Ghostery database. I can’t imagine he’ll keep it up very long.

      • Kip Beatty

        From Marco himself when he announced he was pulling the app:

        “It’ll keep working for a long time if you already have it, but with no updates.”

        But, you’re right, with Marco that could mean he’ll kill the database tomorrow.

  • Nope. He did what he thought was right. Apple did the right thing. I got a nice note from them saying it would be several days before the money was in my account. I alms feel guilty by not letting him have the money after being such a stand-up guy. Kudos to Marco.

  • I believe Marco was actually on the hook for 100% of the refunds requested by users, not just 70%, so this is probably beneficial to him as well.

    • lucascott

      That’s what’s stated in the developer terms. Bunch of folks seem to believe that they will make an exception for Marco but I can’t figure out what makes him so upstanding they would do it

  • John

    It is probably far easier for Apple to do this in one shot rather than refund each buyer one at a time.

  • PatchyThePirate

    Is anyone actually buying this!? So Marco spends a bunch of effort developing an app, releases it, but becomes so racked with guilt at the money he made, that he just couldn’t’ handle it anymore and so pulled it (after making money he had double checked he would be able to keep [or so he thought, it seems])? That reeks of bullshit. Self-righeous bullshit at that. So he made a bunch of money, then pulled the app knowing he would get a lot of publicity, and also added a bunch of self-righteous, self aggrandizing comments in order to make himself out to be such a great guy. Sounds like a sleazy move to me. He tried to have his cake, eat it too, and then went back for seconds! Glad Apple refunded everyone’s money.

    • Matt

      Marco is the one who told everyone to get a refund in the first place. And he says he’s happy that Apple is automatically refunding it for everyone.

      • PatchyThePirate

        That shows/proves absolutely nothing. He could tweet about it every hour of every day and only 1% of people that bought the app would ever try to get the refund, if that. I’m sure he knows this, and that he knew asking people wouldn’t amount to much more than lip service.

        Of course he says he’s happy about it, even though it’s clear he is not happy about it, since he went through the trouble to say/complain that he double checked that he would be able to keep the money he made before pulling the app. To me that is just more evidence of self-aggrandizing, disingenuous bs.

        Just for the record, prior to this story, my opinion of Marco was completely neutral, and I have no knowledge of what happened outside of a couple stories about this (including reading Marco’s statement). But this whole situation seems to paint a pretty clear picture of who he is, and my opinion is no longer neutral. I’m probably not alone in this either.

        • Matt

          Can you supply evidence for this statement:

          “he went through the trouble to say/complain that he double checked that he would be able to keep the money he made before pulling the app.”

          He’s been an app developer since the start, he well knows the refund policy and has removed app from the store before (Nursing Clock) so he knows how that works too.

          • PatchyThePirate

            Um, from his own statement:

            “When I decided to pull the app, I asked some Apple friends if this was even possible, and we all thought the same thing: iTunes billing works the way it works, period, and no special cases can be made.”

            You seem to really want to defend Marco for some reason. Maybe he’s a great guy, I have no idea. But this seemed like a contrived, premeditated, dick move on his part.

          • Matt

            I have no specific reason to defend Marco, I don’t know him personally or have any connection to him, but I do believe you have misunderstood his statement and based an opinion on that misunderstanding.

            Read his whole statement. His comment was about asking his Apple friends if it was possible to automatically refund everyone, but all indications were that the regular iTunes process had to be used by each purchaser of the app, period. It has nothing to do with trying to keep the money. He knew he was not keeping refunded money (and he may even end up owing Apple their 30% cut, but that’s up to Apple). And of course you would normally get to keep unrefunded money even if you pull an app, that’s never been a question, all devs are aware of that.

          • PatchyThePirate

            Ah, I see what you’re saying. That’s a good point. Thank you for pointing that out. Although it does’t seem entirely clear from his statement. While it still seems a bit odd, it now seems entirely possible that it was just that (odd), and not shady.

    • Bryan Pietrzak

      Wait… you think he did all this to make money on those that didn’t claim a refund?!? Huh? He could have just kept selling it and made considerably more….

      Why are you making a simple thing so complex?

      • PatchyThePirate

        No. I’m not making it complex. Marco made it complex by conceptualizing the app, creating the app, sending it to Apple, selling it, making money off of it, then suddenly having a change of heart and pulling it, even though he knew the ramifications of his actions long before he started making all the money that supposedly triggered a bunch of guilt. Marco’s explanation doesn’t make a lot of sense. The whole thing is a bit odd, at the very least.

    • marcintosh

      “So Marco spends a bunch of effort developing an app…”

      Marco said content blockers are very easy to build. Once he got the Ghostery DB it probably took him a day to code Peace. In fact, he probably spent more time on the look and feel cause that’s what he does.

  • freedonuts

    Apple is entitled to keep their commission on any refund so Marco might be in for a surprise… (“Apple may refund to the End-User the full amount of the price paid by the End-User for that Licensed Application. In the event that Apple refunds any such price to an End-User, You shall reimburse, or grant Apple a credit for, an amount equal to the price for that Licensed Application. Apple will have the right to retain its commission on the sale of that Licensed Application, notwithstanding the refund of the price to the End-User.”).

    • samdchuck

      Jup. I hope this is what happens and marco will be out at least (with the 13000 quote from his post) $12000. But he’s connected so probably not.

      • lucascott

        Is he really that connected. I mean Netflix, Amazon etc tried to play the ‘we are so big that that makes us special’ when Apple launched the rule that you couldn’t link in your app to non Apple (and thus not commissioned) ways to pay. Apple told them to kick rocks.

        • samdchuck

          He’s so connected that this happened though.

  • TomCrown

    Marco releases a paid add blocking app without fully thinking through the implications, is “morally” conflicted pulls it refunds the purchases and Apple gets to eat the processing fees, Stand up guy.

    • lucascott

      A month ago he posted a blog entry about how nasty web ads are and admitted that he had toyed with creating a blocker and was thinking about releasing it.

      The day he released Peace he posted another entry where he plain as day said that users wouldn’t feel guilty about using an ad blocker.

      Yeah he thought about it. Probably thought he could slip it by and it wouldn’t be gang busters. But it was and folks weren’t happy with him

  • SockRolid

    Flappy Blocker.

  • Tom_P

    “jumped through many hoops”

    No, he didn’t jump anywhere. This is Apple doing for its customers. What Marco did was just waster Apple and his customers time.

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  • rick gregory

    First off, Dave, don’t get passive-aggressively snarky (“any complaints”) when you wouldn’t participate in the discussion on the previous post.

    Second, no, no complaints. This is the right thing to have done and it’s good Apple did it. Yeah, they eat some fees, but it’s trivial to them.

    I’ll give props to Marco for asking about it too… but don’t give me this line about how he jumped through hoops. There’s nothing in his post indicating that – he asked some Apple folks about doing this, no one thought it was possible, end of story.

    Hopefully, Marco has finally learned a bit more self-awareness. He doesn’t seem to like things that embroil him in conflict and he seems at least in part to not realize his own standing and what that visibility will bring him. That should inform how he writes and what projects he takes on – he’ll be happier and his interlocutors and customers will be too.

    • lucascott

      Marco never asked Apple about doing mass returns. He says very clearly on his blog that he didn’t think it was possible and was surprised when Apple told him they were doing it.

  • jcgarza

    What do you mean, “Any complaints?” Are you going to pass them along to Marco? Who do you think you are, anyway? Don’t you realize that the only reason 90% of the people who visit this site are here because of Jim’s “Yeps” and “Nopes”? The snark on Dave’s posts is really getting tired.

    • Anthony 

      Yeah, no matter how you slice it this whole business with Marco is stupid and tiresome. Dave needs to lose the holier than thou attitude and Marco needs to put on his big boy pants and not be such a wimp about this whole situation. He released an app, he knew full well what it did and who it would affect, it was popular and so, as usual, instead of deciding to man up and accept that his app was something his customers wanted, he decided to wuss out and pull the app, probably because his blogger buddies got pissed at him for blocking The Deck. I don’t admire him for “doing what he thinks is right”, because all he did was inconvenience thousands or people, and Apple, to cover his own ass and his reputation with his WWDC friends. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a gullible fool.

      Marco didn’t jump through shit, he just bailed on his customers and Apple decided to fix the issue in one shot rather than process individual refund requests. But of course, he’s one of those guys who doesn’t care, he just wants to protect his image, a pattern you can clearly see with his “post then retract” style of blogging. I guess now that applies to his apps as well.

      Whatever, I’m not buying anything else Marco might release in the future, I don’t need to deal with a drama queen dev who flits about like a fart in the wind and can’t stand behind his product.

      • jcgarza

        I obviously can’t say for sure, but the fact that The Loop seems to be so protective/defensive of him and his move, and the fact that Gruber decided to stay mum on the whole incident (despite being one of the most vocal supporters of the coming “reckoning”) suggests that, yeah, they probably had some “influence” on Marco’s retraction.

        • ann onymous

          I wonder how much influence The Deck had (and how much influence Gruber has with The Deck). Maybe if Marco was going make a lot of money selling an ad blocker, Jim Coudal might have decided he could sell Marco’s spot as a Deck client to someone else…

        • Anthony 

          Hard to say, none of the usual sites had any commentary on the subject, they just reposted his post and that was that. Of course, many will say that silence equals consent.

          I’m of the opinion that Marco didn’t want the spotlight on him despite creating an app he must have suspected would be a success, and instead of standing his ground and continuing to improve Peace, he abandoned his customers and ran back to his man cave. He put his inability to handle controversy ahead of 13,000 paying customers, and I find that inexcusable.

        • rick gregory

          Gruber says he tried to talk Marco out of pulling Peace ( and I’d believe that. Gruber’s stance is that we should want to block ‘garbage’ not all ads and I agree with him, actually. Show me a decent ad and I’m OK. I don’t want all the trackers, autoplay videos, etc. The problem is…well, that’s a post, not a comment.

          • jcgarza

            Thanks for the link to his tweet. I was just going by the fact that Daring Fireball ad opted to stay away from this specific conversation, when it was a topic he had made clear in the past he was quite passionate about…

  • HiawathaJones

    Marco remains a sanctimonious prig who wasted a ton of his customer’s time before apple threw him a life line. This is the equivalent of intentionally crashing a car on the 405 at 5 pm on Friday, wasting huge amounts of time and then getting happy claps from his fan boys when state troopers drag him off the road.

  • Moeskido

    There will always be complainers.

    • Anthony 

      And there will always be people who consider this sort of self-centred behaviour acceptable as long as the perpetrator offers up any sort of moral platitude, which is why so many are able to get away with it these days. The customer always comes first, remember that one? Seems Marco forgot, or in this day and age just doesn’t give a shit.