Appy Pie Makes it Hard to Cancel

Is Appy Pie’s cancelation system illegal? No, and maybe not even completely dishonest, but boy oh boy is is tricky to cancel a subscription. Let me explain.

So, you want to build an app, but you are not a tech pro? No worries, appy pie to the rescue, right? That is what we thought almost $1k and a few years ago. Excellent reviews! Then we realized that after building the app, we didn’t REALLY need an app. That was my personal miscalculation, and not appypie’s fault. I owed them for the app and I paid them. In 2019 I knew it was a failure, but thought we might try to get better at the tech piece of building an app. We didn’t. In July of 2020 I tried to cancel my subscription.

The “appypie customer service” is evidently designed in such a way that canceling is SOOO time-consuming that a large percentage of customers will simply give up. Cha Ching! (Other examples) I spent a long time trying to find the hidden link on their page to cancel. Finally, I was so frustrated and angry that I gave up, thinking, “It is worth wasting $300 not to have to deal with this company anymore.” They auto-renewed my card for the $300 as per the initial contract.

This year (2021) I again wanted to cancel. Again, I was not able to find the hidden link to cancel my subscription, so I got onto their offshore customer service chat with “Agent.” I suspect that “Agent” is a good human simply trying to make a living. He or she does not want to screw people over, but policies and systems must be followed. I am guessing there is some anti-business government law that doesn’t let customer service touch the parts of the account that customers need to have serviced. Thanks government, way to at least stay consistent.

First response from Agent was the expected typical sales-technique attempt to learn what my objections were and to overcome those objections. Then a series of confusing instructions for buttons that didn’t show on MY screen. My options were offered in French and Arabic, and still I couldn’t find the various buttons the agent told me to find. I kept trying. Still nothing.

Then the agent said that I was supposed to email the billing department. I did so while still on chat. All that did was open a support ticket, which I know from experience with other companies could be answered within 2 minutes OR 72 hours. so back to chat I went.

Now “Agent” again apologized for inconvenience, still never leaving the script. I chatted back angrily, cursing, threatening to report them for fraud to the BBB and demanding that my subscription be canceled. I suspected that I would simply have to give up again, and perhaps keep spending $300/year for the rest of my life. Finally, “Agent” complied and dealt with “Billing” directly and canceled my subscription after over an hour on chat! Had I given up at 59 minutes into my journey into bureaucracy I would have again been charged $300 for this year… as per my contract. Many apologies from Agent as per any good CS script.

I suspected this was a nasty trick that appypie was running, they know that a certain percentage of customers will value their time more highly than the hassle. An hour of a call center person’s time is less than $10, so this is a $290 profit. Even if only 10% of people give up trying to stop the auto-renewal process can get frustrated and allow auto-renew to continue, that is some easy money without any bandwidth expense. I am curious what percentage of appypie’s annual net profits come from this? Even if only 1%, it is not “honorable” income to be proud of. Money ought to be earned like I earn mine, by providing quality service. I am a customer service trainer, and I know that it is common grey-hat advice to make cancelations difficult. It is not cool though, I promise that I will never do that.

I hope that my words of warning help you cancel Appy Pie if, like me, it does not meet your needs. I experienced many hours of frustration from what otherwise seems like a good company. (Between the first hour+ and being a squeaky wheel) If you ever need to cancel, I suggest spending 5 minutes trying online, and if you cant figure it out, spend some time watching a “how to” video. The current User Interface (UI) is not intuitive.

I will remove this post if and when Appypie makes a clear UI that makes it easy and straightforward for customers to cancel their service. A few years of subscription fees lost is not the purpose of this post. The first years were MY fault. Last year’s $300 loss was due to the trick, or, knowing the founder is a good guy, assuming the “design error” of making if frustratingly difficult to cancel. It is something that with my limited website building skills; I could fix within 2 hours. We will see. (6-30-21)

I have reached out to Appy Pie to clarify any errors I might have made in this post. They asked that I not use the founder’s or agent’s names, so I removed them. They also asked that I not use the word “scam.” If they have any other legitimate requests, I will honor them. I will update this post to reflect anything I might have missed or misspoken about.

UPDATE: Appypie evidently refunded some money:

I later received a nice email from senior leadership, along with a short personally-made video explaining the cancelation process. Based on the tone of this email, I am hopeful that the company will make the process more transparent in the future. With their permission, I will soon post the video or a link to it.