This weekend I used some Google Play credits to grab a quick game for my phone. Immediately, I had an email from Google letting me know a game was purchased in my account with my credits. It’s not that weird, except that I had made some purchases in iTunes recently, and it took TWO DAYS to get a confirmation email!
Why does it matter when I get an email? There are a few issues that make timeliness important:
- Fraud. If someone is running around buying things under my information, I’d like to know that immediately. It’s why I love how Amazon emails me about everything, even freebies, so I always know EXACTLY what content is being obtained under my login and with what funds on the day it happens.
- Balancing my checkbook. I hate, hate, hate that Apple takes 2-3 days to charge me for purchases. Normally it doesn’t matter, because my iTunes purchases are typically rare and under $5.00. But it becomes a huge pain with the occasional bigger purchase, like paying TurboTax (I do all our taxes on my iPad).
- It’s super unfriendly to families with kids to delay email confirmations. My son is far too young to understand buying on iTunes, but he’s been known to grab our phones and “play” with them. If he managed to mash his little fingers around enough to make a purchase, or two, or ten, we’d want to know that right away, and not in 3 days when Apple finally got around to aggregating it all together.
Overall, in the hierarchy of digital transactions, I’d say Amazon is hands down the best, providing quick emails for all purchases and a place to easily access your digital buys online. Google is good too, usually emailing me immediately. Google Wallet can sometimes hang out in pending a bit with my bank, but the charges are there right away. Apple is by far the worst, taking at least 24 and sometimes 48 hours to notify me about purchases.
I didn’t want to assume my experience was the same as everyone’s, so I asked the Gear Diary team. In my very informal polling, Perry, Travis, our intern Candice, Michael A, Greggie, Judie, and I all had issues/complaints about Apple’s aggregation process. Mitchell pointed out that he didn’t mind, as it was less individual line items on his bank statement. But we all agreed we’ve had moments of “OMG who bought something under my name … oh yeah, I did that THREE DAYS AGO”.
What would make the most sense is splitting the charges from the download confirmations. Apple could easily send a quick “hey, you ordered this” email, and then send a weekly “here are your iTunes Store charges and activity for the week of XX/XX/XXXX”. That way they can still aggregate charges into one lump sum over a few days, but consumers still know immediately what activity is occuring on their accounts. It’s a small detail in the grander scheme of things, but it’s quite irritating and impacts how usable iTunes is versus the competition. We’re all clearly annoyed by it at various times, and all of have received at least one receipt that caught us off guard.