Are Apple’s terms and conditions damaging customer experience?

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Apple performed its biggest ‘reverse ferret’ just over a week ago, when it launched its new streaming service, Apple Music, despite Steve Jobs stating many years ago that they would never apply a subscription model to its music products, and that other, similar market players were “criminal”.

Times have changed however, and while price, competition and an early Taylor Swift-led revolt stole most of the column inches in the build-up to last week’s launch, it was a far less conspicuous update to the platform’s terms and conditions that could end up being one of the biggest turn-offs for consumers weighing-up whether to split from other, more established streaming services in favour of Apple’s new product.

According to Nick Parker, strategy partner at language consultancy, The Writer, Apple’s terms and conditions for its new service have ballooned to over 20,000 words, or approximately 100 minutes reading time for the average customer. Parker believes this over-zealous approach towards ‘Ts & Cs’ (which spans across all of its online products) is putting the tech giant’s infamous reputation as a customer experience leader in jeopardy.    

“Terms and conditions exist so that customer and company know where they stand. And small print grows like a fungus because legal tend to add in more and more caveats to try and cover every eventuality.

“[As in Apple’s case], terms that take hours to read (if you really read them) or are too complex for most customers to actually understand are frankly often seen as quite rude and arrogant.”

The issue of over-complex and elaborate, thesis-length Ts & Cs isn’t just reserved for Apple, however, and indeed even in the music streaming business some services are guilty of offering even more complicated terms to customers in the process of committing to subscribing to their products.

Research from The Writer found that on demand music service Deezer’s terms and conditions ran to a whopping 26, 315 words - or approximately 132 minutes reading time – the equivalent of three plays of Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ album, if you’re that way inclined.   

In contrast, Spotify, largely regarded as the music streaming service leader, runs Ts & Cs of around 4,500 words, and a much more palpable 21 minutes reading time.    

About Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.

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By monan8
25th Jun 2017 17:16

Apple doesn’t purposely make its terms and conditions long and boring and difficult to read. In theory it could shorten them, or summarise them, or pull out a few bullet points at the beginning to let you know if something has changed since you were last confronted with them. But if it was to do so someone could argue in court that insufficient emphasis was placed on something buried further down in the document. And Apple doesn’t want that to happen.

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22nd Dec 2017 17:34

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