/ Problems with Rockfax App in App purchases

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L Jeremy Dunkin - on 08 Feb 2019

I’m having a lot of trouble downloading purchases made on the app. Apple have billed me for them but the app seems unable to be able to download. Apple tell me it’s the Rockfax servers not theirs that are having problems. Also I can’t get hold of Rockfax to rectify the issue. Is anyone else experiencing issues?

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Martin McKenna - UKC - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Jeremy Dunkin:

HI Jeremy,

Sorry about the issues you're having. I've just messaged the iOS developer, Stephen. He will get back to you asap.

Cheers,

Martin

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In reply to Jeremy Dunkin:

> I’m having a lot of trouble downloading purchases made on the app. Apple have billed me for them but the app seems unable to be able to download. Apple tell me it’s the Rockfax servers not theirs that are having problems. Also I can’t get hold of Rockfax to rectify the issue. Is anyone else experiencing issues?

In addition to Martin's comment...

The developer is out at the moment but it is impossible for it to be Rockfax servers since we don't hold any packages on the Rockfax server, they are all on Apple servers.

Are you getting the message 'Can't connect to the App Store' ? This is a persistent problem with the App Store (which is why we are moving away from it). It does rectify itself in the end but you need to keep trying.

Also, how did you try and get hold of Rockfax?

Alan

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L Jeremy Dunkin - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I think I was getting conflicting advice from Apple. To be honest I really like the App and hope you guys can get it working at some point. In answer to your question, I have contacted the Rockfax team via the App, and just received a reply as I type this. The suggestion is that I should get a refund from Apple. A good suggestion regarding the money aspect but not a good endorsement for the app unfortunately. The sections I wanted are not available in book form. Seems like a great idea but not yet ready for launch it appears. I’d love to know when you’ve rectified things and then perhaps I’ll give it another go. 

Like I said I think the topos are great and user photos are a real inspiration. I so hope you can get these teething issues resolved.

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In reply to Jeremy Dunkin:

> I think I was getting conflicting advice from Apple. To be honest I really like the App and hope you guys can get it working at some point. In answer to your question, I have contacted the Rockfax team via the App, and just received a reply as I type this. The suggestion is that I should get a refund from Apple. A good suggestion regarding the money aspect but not a good endorsement for the app unfortunately. The sections I wanted are not available in book form. Seems like a great idea but not yet ready for launch it appears. I’d love to know when you’ve rectified things and then perhaps I’ll give it another go. 

Glad you like the app. I understand that you had a couple of email exchanges over the last couple of days with the developer. The problem you are experiencing is not a Rockfax problem, it is the App Store problem and it does resolve itself in the end, however we do understand that it is frustrating. It is also why we are moving to our own system in the next month or so.

The app was released three years ago and we have had it installed on over 21,000 devices so far with plenty of happy users. Hopefully they will be even happier when we get better control over the data and move to the subscription model in the next month or so. The advice to get a refund is just an option if you can't get the app store to respond.

Alan

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L Jeremy Dunkin - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Thanks for that Alan, I appreciate lots of happy users are enjoying their purchases. I’m on the latest devices with the latest IOS and its a little more than frustration. It’s difficult to imagine buying a magazine subscription from a mainstream publisher, being charged the subscription and then not being able to download the magazines. The App downloads and manages the purchases just doesn’t allow for any of the actual content to be downloaded. The App Store also supplies me with numerous other subscriptions without issue and at larger file sizes. Are you suggesting my experience, however unlikely, is unique or that it would be a mistake for users to subscribe whilst you’re experiencing these issues for fear of having the same problem which I understand at best to be haphazard. 

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Martin McKenna - UKC - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Jeremy Dunkin:

Hi Jeremy,

I'm the Android developer, not the iOS developer, so I don't know the technical details of how the Apple App Store functions, however I have discussed this issue with the iOS dev before. 

The issue you're experiencing isn't unique, although it is rare, and it's also not isolated to the Rockfax App. As far as I'm aware it's an issue that can crop up in any iOS app that uses the App Store for in app purchases. In this case you seem to be experiencing it. Unfortunately this is something outwith our control and thus the advice we give is to request a refund from Apple.

As Alan has already said, we're moving away from this system very soon in order to have more control over how we distribute the data to the app. This will also get round this issue with the app store.

Cheers,

Martin

Post edited at 22:11
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L Jeremy Dunkin - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Martin McKenna - UKC:

I am not sure if your users are predominantly Android or Apple based and I’m not familiar with the concept of downloading content for Apple devices without using the App Store. Security etc.

To be clear, your Wales Winter Guide downloaded immediately so my thoughts were that this was a good platform and very useful indeed. 

Some of my Chamonix purchase have now come through on iPad and the Cairngorm winter guide was stalling with the standard icon which has now become a Red Cross whatever that means.

None of the items will download to iPhone which as I’m sure you can appreciate is irritating since I have little intention of carrying and iPad winter climbing.

There appears no way of relaunching your App other than quitting or deleting it and reloading it to provoke an attempt to begin the download again. Your developer suggested repurchasing the content again which would trigger another free download or restoring purchases within my account. All of which is at best reactionary and not in any way explained on the device until I decided to make a complaint.

On present track record, if I was to attempt to download content for a Chamonix trip this summer now, I might have the necessary elements in the app by then and as for the winter climbing in Scotland, perhaps in time for next year.

I would suggest not selling the product until you have found a solution to the problem since it is damaging to your reputation.

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phil456 on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to Jeremy Dunkin:

I can completely understand your frustration having experienced problems myself, all I can suggest is you follow Stephen,s advice ( he is very helpful )  the app is very worthwhile after you get over any problems. I note that you are using the app on both iPhone and IPad and have wondered in the past if this causes some sort of glitch. 

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L Adoig - on 10 Feb 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Hey Alan,

this seems to be still an unresolved issue for some of your users, myself included. Have you come up with any workarounds or steps that end users can use to resolve the issue?

One fix, and it is inelegant, is to purchase each area individually. It appears that the large package will not download but smaller ones will. Unfortunately, apple is denying my requests for refunds at the moment. I do not know if you are aware that they redirect the customer automatically to rockfax for reimbursement. I don't relish having to fight with apple to get the purchases refunded now, as it looks like I will have to do.

If you have any ideas to aid me, I would appreciate it.

Post edited at 18:27
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In reply to Adoig:

Thanks Andrew.

We are looking into this at the moment since it does seem to have escalated in the last week and it isn't just the 'Can't Connect to App Store' problem any more, which does resolve itself in the end.

As mentioned, the long term solution is just around the corner but that doesn't help those in the short term. However it is worryingly out of our control to influence the delivery of packages from Apple servers.

Alan

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In reply to Adoig:

I'll respond to this message here, but see my follow-on post for workarounds that have worked on my test device.

> One fix, and it is inelegant, is to purchase each area individually. It appears that the large package will not download but smaller ones will.

Please be aware that if you've bought an area package, say Pembroke, and you then buy all the individual packages as well, you are paying for everything twice! Apple requires hosted in-app-purchase content to be set up like this - we were not able to set it up in a way that buying the area package 'unlocks' the smaller packages that make up the area package, which would be the logical way for us to structure it.

> Unfortunately, apple is denying my requests for refunds at the moment. I do not know if you are aware that they redirect the customer automatically to rockfax for reimbursement.

I've had a look at the refund procedure, and I see that if you choose as a reason for the refund request "does not download" (I forget the precise wording they use), Apple will redirect you to us to try and sort the problem out. Rockfax has absolutely no power to do that I'm afraid. So you are better choosing one of the other reasons. I'm trying to get answers from Apple about why their delivery system is broken, but I don't have them yet.

Also note that we have no power to offer refunds - this has to be done by Apple. All purchases in the app (any app on iOS in fact) are handled by Apple, and Rockfax does not even have a record of who has purchased what.

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In reply to Adoig:

Potential Workarounds

There are two issues facing some users: the "Cannot connect to iTunes Store" message which can be shown when trying to restore purchases or buying a package, and the slow or simply not-working downloads once a purchase has been made. I've joined the club this morning in that my test device started doing both these things. Below are the actions I took that jump started things to get them working again.

"Cannot connect to iTunes Store"

I was getting this message when trying to restore purchases from the "My Account" section of the app.

I got the restore purchases to work again by signing out of the iTunesStore, rebooting the device, then signing back in. To sign out, follow these steps:

- Go to the Settings app and tap on the first entry (iOS 12), which is your account details

- Tap "iTunes & App Store"

- Tap the top entry that says "Apple ID: [your_email_address]".

- Tap "Sign Out" from the alert that appears

Then reboot the device and sign back in. Open the Rockfax app and see if it connects to the iTunes store now.

Slow or Non-Moving Downloads

I got this to work again by force-quitting the app (double-press the home button, then flick the app image upwards) and restarting it.

I can't guarantee these things will fix the issues for others, but please try them and let me know. Searching online for these issues shows they have existed for years with Apple's StoreKit, and I think they must be tricky to reproduce, hence the lack of fixes.

The nature of the problems imply that the issue is with Apple's servers, but the nature of the fixes, and the fact that the problems only occur for a number of users rather than all users, imply that something goes wrong on the device (any fix that involves a reboot makes me very suspicious of that).

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In reply to Stephen Horne - Rockfax:

Slow or Non-Moving Downloads

After some experimentation this morning we have found that there seems to be some discrepancy between what the download indicator on packages shows, and what is actually happening.

After a few tests I managed to download two very big packages which initially showed little movement after tapping download. I did this by simply by starting the download, leaving it for around 20 minutes when it didn't appear to do much, force quitting the app as Stephen describes above, and then starting it again. The download either then completes pretty quickly, or has already completed and the crags are installed.

We appreciate this is far from ideal, but it does present a work around while we try to get to the bottom of the problem. It does appear that the problem isn't ours and hence we have limited influence in this.

Alan

Post edited at 11:58
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JoshOvki on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> We appreciate this is far from ideal, but it does present a work around while we try to get to the bottom of the problem. It does appear that the problem isn't ours and hence we have limited influence in this.

Being a pedant that gets fed up with IT support (I work in IT support). The problem IS yours because it looks bad for Rockfax, the problem is caused by Apple and you don't have any way of fixing it (well you do which is why you are releasing the new version when it is ready).

(Edit to add this isn't supposed to be a dig at you, Stephen or Martin, and it is great you are trying to find work arounds, to a problem no caused by yourselves.)

Post edited at 12:53
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L Adoig - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I wish I could say that either of these fixes worked for me, but I have tried both suggestions and I am met with a pop up window that says "Sorry, maybe try again later - you won't be charged again for any purchase that you made." 

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