Family Sharing payment methods very screwed up

WolfSnap

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 18, 2012
886
601
SoCal
As seen here, Apple's Family Sharing feature uses payment methods in very odd ways.

Currently, if you have an iTunes gift card balance on your account, and you purchase something, the iTunes credit will be used first; then your credit card will be billed for any amount in excess of the credit. This makes sense.

Once you activate Family Sharing, even though the organizer is responsible for the purchases of their family, the iTunes gift card balance is NOT used when the purchase is initiated by someone other than the organizer.

In other words, let's assume that Frank is the organizer of his family share group. He has $100 in iTunes credit. Frank has Amy (his wife) and Beth (his daughter) as members of the group.

Frank buys Angry Birds for 99¢. Beth and Amy can play and download Angry Birds too, and play it, for no additional cost. Frank now has $99.01 remaining in his iTunes gift card balance, and no charges are made to the credit card. This is correct.

Frank decides to upgrade his iCloud storage to 200GB - $3.99/mo. Because it's iCloud storage, no one else shares the space. This makes sense too. Also, because Frank has a balance, his credit is used first. Balance now: $95.02. Great! Makes sense.

Beth decides she needs 20GB of iCloud storage. It costs 99¢/mo. Frank has agreed to pay for it; beth purchases it, and Frank pays. Makes sense too. However, in this case, even though Frank has an iTunes credit of $95.02, the 99¢ iCloud drive subscription does NOT use the credit; it charges 99¢ to his credit card. Frank still has $95.02 credit. huh?

Amy decides to buy Cut the Rope for $1.99. Frank has agreed to pay for that too. Frank and Beth can ALSO download and play Cut the Rope without Frank paying more. In this case, Amy's $1.99 purchase also does not use his store credit. Frank has to pay $1.99 on his credit card. The $95.02 credit is not used at all.

At all times Frank was responsible to pay for his family's purchases. At all times, family members could share apps/music/TV Shows/Movies, etc. At all times Frank had a substantial store credit. But, only when Frank purchased the music/app/storage/etc himself did iTunes use the credit.

This is wrong.

Please let Apple know you also think this is wrong.

You can leave Apple feedback here: https://www.apple.com/feedback/icloud.html
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,922
14,608
Central U.S.
If what you're saying is true then that's pretty jacked up. My wife and I just share the same store account so I haven't tried family sharing yet, and our daughter is an infant so it's not yet an issue. Hopefully they get this sorted out. Also I didn't realize iCloud storage pulls from iTunes credit now. At Christmas we usually get some iTunes cards and my wife adds them to our account and she uses her share of them to buy music over the next few months. But if it gets drained out then she won't know how much she has left to use and she's all about budgeting. I'd prefer a setting to make iCloud stuff come out separately, especially as I can charge it as a business expense.
 

JacksTLOS

macrumors member
Aug 31, 2011
35
2
It's like that on purpose. I don't necessarily want my family to be able to use my gift cards (technically that's what an itunes card is) with their purchases. So just like your other examples, itunes cards are icloud account specific and don't get shared.
 

extremei5

macrumors member
Jun 7, 2009
38
2
So. Cali
It's like that on purpose. I don't necessarily want my family to be able to use my gift cards (technically that's what an itunes card is) with their purchases. So just like your other examples, itunes cards are icloud account specific and don't get shared.
Exactly!
 

GreyOS

macrumors 68040
Apr 12, 2012
3,287
1,615
It's like that on purpose. I don't necessarily want my family to be able to use my gift cards (technically that's what an itunes card is) with their purchases. So just like your other examples, itunes cards are icloud account specific and don't get shared.
Really though, do you have to be that precious about it? It all comes down to money in the end. In one cases Dad has x dollars less to spend on gift card, in other case Dad has x dollars less to spend on credit card.

I thought anyone would want to prioritise their iTunes credit for iTunes purchases as it's only usable in iTunes. If you don't get through that credit then it's wasted.
 

ender21

macrumors 6502
Jul 15, 2010
291
33
Southern Cal
Really though, do you have to be that precious about it? It all comes down to money in the end. In one cases Dad has x dollars less to spend on gift card, in other case Dad has x dollars less to spend on credit card.

I thought anyone would want to prioritise their iTunes credit for iTunes purchases as it's only usable in iTunes. If you don't get through that credit then it's wasted.
Not to mention that many people take advantage of discounted iTunes cards to pad their accounts with credit from anywhere from 5% to 20% off. Dinging one's credit card first would severely diminish that benefit.

I'd prefer it default to using store credit no matter who initiates the purchase, but make that defeatable within the Family Sharing settings for those that prefer the card be charged first. Or vice versa.
 

dan.synergy

macrumors member
Oct 9, 2014
49
6
Balmore
Unfortunately I came across this issue and another one regarding family sharing on the day it was released.

We tested the 1Password app that I have owned since its release and not only was she charged for the "In-app" purchase, but my $90 iTunes credit was untouched and her credit card was charged. Now this "In App" purchase for 1Password is not 'Gems', or 'Bucks'...it simply unlocks the full features of the app which I had payed for when the app was NOT free.

According to Apple, since the developer changed their app to a Freemium model, it is not the same and worth charging again.

Check out this response from apple support, in which they address the purchase but make no mention as to why her card was charged over my iTunes credit. I have since emailed them back without a response.

Hello Jenny,

My name is Dawna, and I am an Advisor with the iTunes store.

I understand that there was a charge for an item that was believed to be downloaded for free via family sharing as it was purchased previously by another user. I recognize the confusion that this has caused in regards to being charged for something that was previously paid for. I am happy to have a look to see what had occurred.

I’ve taken some time to go over both the accounts, and the application that is currently within the app store and I can see why a charge was initiated for this item.

When this application was first purchased on the 'email1@email.com’ account, this application was actually a paid app. The user of this account bought 1Password - Password Manager and Secure Wallet back in 2012 for the amount of $7.99 and this application then provided them with all the available features.

Now, if you have a look in the App store, 1Password - Password Manager and Secure Wallet is actually a free application, and the only way to obtain the additional features is to purchase the ‘In-app’ upgrade for $9.99 which is what had occurred with this most recent purchase on the 'email2@email.com’ account.

As the contents of this application have changed over the last 2 years, the second charge for the application is warranted. As the first purchase of the app was a full application purchase, which is different from an ‘In-app’ upgrade. The only way now to obtain the full version is to buy the ‘In-app’ upgrade and pay the new price, this is actually considered a new purchase cause the actual application that was purchased from the first user is no longer available in the same form now as it once was.

Here is a link to the application as it currently stands within the App store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/1password-password-manager/id568903335?mt=8

Something else to keep in mind with Family sharing, is that anything thats been purchased in the form of a ‘In-app’ can not be restored, or re-download by other users for free. ‘In-app’ purchases are meant specifically for the user who has made that initial purchase. Anyone else who wants to obtain that same ‘In-app’ content will need to buy that for themselves.
I could not find any verbiage on their website that explained this other than a fine print stating:

"Not all apps are eligible for Family Sharing"

They stopped responding when I continued to inquire as to why the Credit Card was charged instead of the store credit.
 

bgro

macrumors 65816
Jul 6, 2010
1,090
634
South Florida
I agree that this is a terrible practice. I routinely buy iTunes gift cards at 15-25% off and I want ALL my family's purchases to use the gift card balances (to effectively get 20% off all my app store purchases). So what I had to do was load up gift cards on my wife's and kid's accounts too. Complete PITA and I really wish I never switched to Family Sharing.
 
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