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Apple No Longer Accepting App Store Reviews for Redeemed Promo Codes


As noted in the forums at our sister site Touch Arcade, Apple has apparently made a change to its App Store app review policies, no longer permitting users who have obtained applications via promo code to leave reviews for them.

According to Apple representatives, the change has been made in order to help prevent developers from gaming the ratings and reviews system by using an entire batch of promo codes to boost their profile.

I worked with Apple to resolve this issue and they have responded that "it is no longer possible to rate or review an app if it was downloaded using a developer's promotional code to prevent comprimising [sic] of the rating system".

Another developer who had been running a Promo Dispenser service for connecting developers offering promo codes with users willing to provide reviews in exchange for them reports that users are receiving a standard response from Apple about the change when inquiring about difficulties leaving reviews.

Anand here again from iTunes Store Customer Support. Thanks for writing back and letting me know your concern. I understand that you are still not able to write a review. I know how disappointing it can be when things don't work out the way they should. I am sorry to inform that it is no longer possible to rate or review an app if it was downloaded using a developer's promotional code.

However, I took the liberty of submitting your feedback to Apple on your behalf. Please know that Apple takes the feedback from our customers very seriously. This is the reason for our feedback page - to create a forum where our users can vent, praise or share whatever feelings they have to allow us to meet your needs, and grow as a company. I suggest that you use the link in order to share your feedback with us. I would also encourage you to share this link with all of your friends and family who wish to submit the feedback, and have them all submit the same request.

Details on just what promo codes are affected by the change are currently unclear, as posters in the forum thread indicate a variety of experiences when trying to review apps for which they received promo codes, with some reviews being permitted while others are being denied. One theory suggests that the difference may be linked to when the promo code was issued, with only newly-issued codes being subject to the policy.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPad Air

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

44 months ago
good to hear, keeps people honest.
Rating: 10 Votes
44 months ago

I think it's a good move. But then, what's the purpose of promo codes at all?


Giving a free copy of an app to someone. For example, a blogger or journalist who might want to write an article about it, or rewarding a beta tester with the full version. I don't think they were ever intended to have anything to do with app store reviews.
Rating: 8 Votes
44 months ago

This seems like a stupid idea to me.

This seems like a GREAT idea to me.

I downloaded State Farm's driving application yesterday and it was a serious piece of crap. I looked at the reviews and noticed a pattern: The first reviews were all 5's, including one person who said he worked for State Farm! The rest of the reviews were 1's, 2's, and 3's. I see a pattern here...

Good job, Apple. Keep 'em honest! :rolleyes:
Rating: 8 Votes
44 months ago
"We will try to come up with a new idea for you being able to share and receive apps for free, until then we close the site.
We are sorry for Apple being a bunch of jerks and we thank you for your patience and for your participation."

PromoDispenser get's upset now that a camera's been installed in the bus they're driving they can't grope the school kids any more? (An illustration here, not an accusation) Closing the door on a site that's gaming the system is always a good idea.
Rating: 7 Votes
44 months ago
Nothing wrong with this. Promo codes should be given out for reviewers for sites, blogs, etc. to publish their "independent" reviews. No need for them to post up on the Apple store as well. Keeps everyone honest.
Rating: 6 Votes
44 months ago

So you don't see the obvious conflict of interest here? Getting a free app has a tendency to add rose colored glasses to many reviewers.

I think an even worse issue here, that this is helping against, is devs giving promo codes to people on his/her side, in order to create fake reviews.

"Here's a code - just post something nice about it! I gave you a code so you don't even have to purchase it, in exchange for a good review! Deal?"

I basically see this stopping unscrupulous developers in their tracks.
Rating: 6 Votes
44 months ago
Good move. I once received a promo code, gave some feedback to the developer, was asked to leave a five-star rating, I only gave 2 or 3, and I never heard back from the developer...
Rating: 5 Votes
44 months ago
It's about time Apple put a block on this.
This should help eliminate some of the fake reviews.
Rating: 4 Votes
44 months ago

This seems like a stupid idea to me.

I can understand not wanting to encourage "fake" reviews, but MacRumors has a forum where Developers can give away codes and I'm sure that the majority of the codes used result in honest reviews.


Yea right, its so completely obvious when you look at App reviews and there a dozen who give it 5 stars and slobber over, and every single other review comes in at 1 - 3 stars with lots of complaints and gripes.

So many overrated Apps that are the direct result of promo codes. This is something that needed to be axed from the beginning.
Rating: 4 Votes
44 months ago

I'm a bit conflicted on this.

On one hand, I can understand the logic behind it with being concerned that developers would be giving out promo codes in return for 5-star ratings.

On the other hand, from my own experience (I run an iOS applications podcast) many developers are quite willing to give out promo codes in return for honest reviews and feedback on their apps, and this seems like it would lessen the incentive for developers to give out promo codes to reputable people/organizations.

I would say that they should adopt a 'middle ground' approach: Clearly tag all of the reviews that were made by people who got promo codes as such, and don't include them in the calculations for the rankings. They could also simply discount any ratings from promo codes that do not include a written description/review. This would allow developers to get good feedback about their apps from reputable sources while making potential buyers reading through the reviews aware of which were made by those who received the apps for free to review them.


this means you have to make a lot of database changes, application code changes, QA it, etc. not worth the time and expense
Rating: 4 Votes

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