Tag Archives: self-indulgence

iTunes Gift Card on Canadian App Store? (Updated)


Disappointed by an iTunes gift card

Disappointed by an iTunes gift card


[Update, December 27 8:55 pm: I received a reply from Apple:

Dear Alexandre,

Hello my name is Todd and i am happy to assist you. I understand that you would like a refund for your gift card that you purchased without knowing that you couldn’t purchase applications unfortunately i am unable to approve a refund because once a Gift Card has been redeemed, it no longer has any value. The store credit on the card has been completely transferred to the account it was redeemed to. I did some research and i came across this link where apple customers go and send feedback about issues they have experienced and I think you may find this informative.


Thank you Alexandre for choosing iTunes Store and have a great day.


iTunes Store Customer Support

please note: I work Thursday – Monday 7AM – 4PM CST

So it seems that the restriction is due to Canadian law. Which makes it even more surprising that none of the documentation available to users in the process of redeeming the code contains no mention of this restriction. I find Apple’s lack of attention to this issue a tad bit more troubling in context.]

I’m usually rather levelheaded and I don’t get angry that easily.

Apparently, iTunes gift cards can’t be used on the App Store portion of the Canadian version of the iTunes store. It seems that, in the US, gift cards can in fact be used on the App Store.

This is quite disappointing.

Because of diverse international moves, I currently don’t have access to a valid credit card in my own name. During this time, I’ve noticed a few applications on the iTunes App Store that I would like to purchase but, since I didn’t have a credit card, I couldn’t purchase them. I do have a Canadian Paypal account but the Canadian iTunes doesn’t accept Paypal payments (while the US version of iTunes does). I thought that Paypal was able to provide temporary credit card numbers but it seems that I was mistaken.

So I thought about using an iTunes gift card.

And I started thinking about this as a gift to myself. Not exactly a reward for good behaviour but a “feel good” purchase. I don’t tend to be that much into consumerism but I thought an iTunes gift card would make sense.

So, today, I went to purchase an iTunes gift card for use on the App Store portion of the iTunes Store.

I felt quite good about it. The weather today is bad enough that we are advised to stay home unless necessary. There’s ice all over and the sidewalks are extremely slippery. But I felt good about going to a store to purchase an iTunes gift card. In a way, I was “earning” this card. Exercising a lot of caution, I went to a pharmacy which, I thought, would sell iTunes gift cards. I know that Jean Coutu sells them. Turns out that this smaller pharmacy doesn’t. So I was told to go to a «dépanneur» (convenience store) a bit further, which did have iTunes gift cards. Had I known, I would probably have gone to another convenience store: Laval, like other places in Quebec, has dépanneurs everywhere. Still, since that dépanneur was rather close and is one of the bigger ones in the neighbourhood, I thought I’d go to that one.

And I did find iTunes gift cards. Problem is, the only ones they had were 25$. I would have preferred a 15$ card since I only need a few dollars for the main purchase I want to make on the iTunes App Store. But, given the context, I thought I’d buy the 25$ card. This is pretty much as close as I can get to an “upsell” and I thought about it before doing it. It’s not an impulse purchase since I’ve been planning to get an iTunes gift card for weeks, if not months. But it’s more money than I thought I would spend on iTunes, for a while.

Coming back home, I felt quite good. Not exactly giddy, but I got something close to a slight “consumption rush.” I so irregularly do purchases like these that it was a unique occasion to partake into consumer culture.

As I was doing all this, I was listening to the latest episode of The Word Nerds which is about currency (both linguistic and monetary). It was very difficult to walk but it all felt quite fun. I wasn’t simply running an errand, I was being self-indulgent.

In fact, I went to get French fries at a local greasy spoon, known for its fries. It may be an extreme overstatement but a commenter on Google Maps calls this place “Best Restaurant in North America.” The place was built, very close to my childhood home, the year I was born. It was rebuilt during the year and now looks like a typical Quebec greasy spoon chain. But their fries are still as good as they were before. And since “self-indulgence” was the theme of my afteroon, it all seemed fitting.

Speaking of indulgence, what I wanted to purchase is a game: Enjoy Sudoku. I’ve been playing with the free “Enjoy Sudoku Daily” version for a while. This free version has a number of restrictions that the 2.99$ version doesn’t have. If I had had access to a credit card at the time, I would have purchased the “premium version” right away. And I do use the free version daily, so I’ve been giving this a fair bit of thought in the meantime.

So imagine my deception when, after redeeming my iTunes gift card, I noticed that I wasn’t able to purchase Enjoy Sudoku. The gift certificate amount shows up in iTunes but, when I try to purchase the game, I get a message saying that I need to change my payment information. I tried different things, including redeeming the card again (which obviously didn’t work). I tried with other applications, even though I didn’t really have a second one which I really wanted to buy. I read the fine print on the card itself, on the card’s packaging, and on the Apple website. Couldn’t find any explanation. Through Web searches, I notice that gift card purchases apparently work on the App Store portion of the US iTunes site. Of course, that web forum might be wrong, but it’d be surprising if somebody else hadn’t posted a message denying the possibility to use iTunes gift cards on App Store given the context (a well-known Mac site, a somewhat elaborate discussion, this habit of forum posters and bloggers to pinpoint any kind of issue with Apple or other corporations…).

The legal fine print on the Apple Canada website does have one sentence which could be interpreted to legally cover the restriction of applications from purchases made with the iTunes gift card:

Not all products may be available.

This type of catch-all phrasing is fairly common in legalese and I do understand that it protects Apple from liability over products which cannot be purchased with an iTunes gift card, for whatever reason. But no mention is made of which products might be unavailable for purchase with an iTunes gift card. In fact, the exact same terms are in the fine print for the US version of the iTunes store. While it makes a lot of sense to embed such a statement in legal fine print, making people pay direct attention to this statement may have negative consequences for Apple as it can sound as if iTunes gift cards are unreliable or insufficient.

I eventually found an iTunes FAQ on the Canadian version of Apple support which explicitly mentions this restriction:

What can I buy with an iTunes Gift Card or iTunes Gift Certificate?

iTunes Gift Cards and iTunes Gift Certificates can be used to purchase music, videos and audio books from the iTunes Store. iTunes Gift Cards and iTunes Gift Certificates may not be used on the Canadian store to purchase applications and games. iTunes Gift Cards and iTunes Gift Certificates are not accepted for online Apple Store purchases.


(Emphasis mine.)

As clear as can be. Had I known this, I would never have purchased this iTunes gift card. And I do accept this restriction, though it seems quite arbitrary. But I personally find it rather strange that a statement about this restriction is buried in the FAQ instead of being included on the card itself.

The US version of the same FAQ doesn’t mention applications:

What can I buy with an iTunes Gift Card or iTunes Gift Certificate?

iTunes Gift Cards and iTunes Gift Certificates can be used to purchase music, videos, TV shows, and audio books from the iTunes Store. At this time, iTunes Gift Cards and iTunes Gift Certificates are not accepted for online Apple Store purchases.

Since, as far as I know, iTunes gift cards can in fact be used to purchase applications, the omission is interesting. One might assume that application purchases are allowed “unless stated otherwise.” In fact, another difference between the two statements is quite intriguing: “At this time” iTunes Gift Cards are not accepted for online Apple Store purchases. While it may not mean anything about Apple Store purchases through iTunes cards in the future. But it does imply that they have been thinking about the possibility. As a significant part of Apple’s success has to do with its use of convenient payment systems, this “at this time” quote is rather intriguing.

So I feel rather dejected. Nothing extreme or tragic. But I feel at the same time disappointed and misled. I’ve had diverse experiences with Apple, in the past, some of which were almost epic. But this one is more frustrating, for a variety of reasons.

Sure, “it’s only 25$.” But I can do quite a lot with 25$. Yesterday, I bought two devices for just a bit more than this and I had been considering these purchases for a while. Altogether, the webcam, mouse, and Sudoku Daily were my holiday gifts to myself. Given my financial situation, these are not insignificant, in terms of money. I’ve had very positive experiences which cost much less than 25$, including some cost-free ones but also some reasonably-priced ones.

But it’s really not about the money. It’s partly about the principle: I hate being misled. When I do get misled by advertising, my attitude toward consumerism gets more negative. In this case, I get to think of Apple as representative of the flaws of consumerism. I’ve been a Mac geek since 1987 and I still enjoy Apple products. But I’m no Apple fanboy and occasions like these leave a surprisingly sour taste in my mouth.

The problem is compounded by the fact that Apple’s iTunes is a “closed ecosystem.” I listen respectfully to others who complain about Apple but I typically don’t have much of a problem with this lack of openness. Such a simple issue as not being able to use an iTunes gift card to purchase something on the iTunes App Store is enough to make me think about diverse disadvantages of the iTunes structure.

If it hadn’t been for the restrictive App Store, I could have purchased Enjoy Sudoku directly through Paypal. In fact, the developers already have a Paypal button for donations and I can assume that they’d be fine with selling the native application directly on their site. In the US, I could have purchased the application directly on iTunes with a US Paypal account. In this context, it now seems exceedingly strange that iTunes gift cards would not be usable on the iTunes App Store.

Which brings me back to a sore point with Apple: the company is frequently accused of “hating Canada.” Of course, the sentiment may be associated to Canadian jealousy over our neighbours in the United States. But Apple has done a number of things which have tended to anger Canadians. Perhaps the most obvious example was the fiasco over the Canadian iPhone as Rogers and Fido, Canada’s only cellphone providers for the iPhone, initially created such abusive plans that there was a very public outcry from people who wanted to purchase those cellphones. Rogers later changed its iPhone plans but the harm had been done. Apple may be seen as a victim, in this case, but the fiasco still gave credence to the notion that Apple hates Canada.

Yet this notion isn’t new. I personally remember diverse occasions through which Canadian users of Apple products had specific complaints about how we were treated. Much of the issues had to do with discrepancies over prices or problems with local customer support. And many of these were fairly isolated cases. But isolated incidents appear like a pattern to people if they’re burnt twice by the same flame.

Not that this means I’ll boycott Apple or that I’m likely to take part in one of those class action lawsuits which seem to “fall” on Apple with a certain regularity. But my opinion of Apple is much lower this afternoon than it has been in the past.

I’m sending the following to Apple Canada’s customer service (follow-up: 62621014). Not that I really expect a favourable resolution but I like to go on record about things like these.

I would like to either be credited 25$ for purchases on the App Store section of the iTunes store or reimbursed for this gift card.

I bought a 25$ iTunes gift card specifically to purchase applications on the App Store. The front of the card’s packaging says that I can use it “for music and more.” Nothing on the small print at the back of the packaging or on the card itself says that the card may not be used on the App Store. Even the legal terms of the card have no mention of this restriction:


The only passage of that page which can be understood to cover this exception is the following:

Not all products may be available.

Bringing attention to this sentence may not be a very good strategy as it can imply that some music, videos, and audiobooks are also restricted.

The only explicit and direct mention of this restriction is here, in the support section of the site:


What can I buy with an iTunes Gift Card or iTunes Gift Certificate?

iTunes Gift Cards and iTunes Gift Certificates can be used to purchase music, videos and audio books from the iTunes Store. iTunes Gift Cards and iTunes Gift Certificates may not be used on the Canadian store to purchase applications and games.

Éloge du nombrilisme

Bon, «éloge» c’est un peu fort. Pas vraiment question ici de faire l’apologie de l’égocentrisme, de l’égoïsme ou de l’insensibilité. Mais plusieurs circonstances m’ont mené à penser aux avantages d’une certaine «charité bien ordonnée» qui accorde une certaine place à la compartimentalisation entre soi et l’Autre.

Trame sonore (écouter ici), Actualités chantées par Diane Dufresne.

On n’est pas v’nus au monde pour se r’garder l’nombril mais quand i’ tombe des bombes, faut ben s’mettre à l’abril.

Oui, je sais, la chanson est très ironique. Loin de moi l’idée de m’ensevelir la tête sous le sable. Mais l’idée de base n’est pas si absurde qu’elle n’y paraît, même pour ceux parmi nous dotés (ou victimes) d’une «conscience sociale» et d’une empathie très fortes.

Il est de bon ton, dans certains milieux, de se préoccuper du monde. De s’attrister du sort de son prochain. Surtout si ce prochain est bien loin de nous. Dans le milieu académique, et plus particulièrement en science sociale, cette attention portée aux problèmes vécus par les autres est parfois poussée à sa limite logique. Plusieurs d’entre nous en conçoivent une vision très négative de l’humanité. Pour un humaniste, ce négativisme ambiant peut sembler inadéquat. «C’est bien beau de porter le poids du monde mais toujours faudrait-il percevoir du monde sa beauté.» Sans oublier que ce n’est généralement pas en se morfondant sur les problèmes de la planète qu’on réussit à les résoudre.

Une partie de la question est liée à la communication et aux médias. De façon sans doute plus efficace qu’à aucun autre moment de l’histoire humaine, nous pouvons désormais recevoir les «mauvaises nouvelles» des quatre coins de la planète. Pas que les médias de masse soient la cause ultime de ce que j’ai tendance à percevoir comme un marasme. Mais un même phénomène social à large échelle englobe à la fois le négativisme primaire de certains milieux et cette tendance qu’ont les journalistes de diffuser l’information la plus déprimante qui soit (liée, selon certains, aux nécessités publicitaires). Sans parler d’un lien causal, on peut décrire une certaine cohérence logique: marasme et journalisme «vont très bien ensemble».

Sans vouloir être trop provocateur, peut-être est-ce ici que se situe la «banalité du mal» décrite par Arendt?

Selon moi, l’attitude positive d’Isabelle Bourgeois et de Planet Positive, tout comme l’orientation vers les solutions chez les Reporters d’espoir sont plus à même de canaliser les changements sociaux en fonction des valeurs et idéaux des gens impliqués que l’optique journalistico-misérabiliste qui veut que «tout va mal jusqu’à preuve du contraire».

Comme c’est souvent le cas, il y a à la fois une part sociale et une part individuelle à prendre en compte dans le rapport qu’on pourrait dire «morbide» entre certains bien-pensants et le «sort du monde». Du point de vue individuel, on se rapproche de la psychologie de la névrose, du moins dans son acception usuelle non-diagnostique. Du point de vue social, on pourrait penser à un certain paternalisme: parmi ceux qui s’inquiètent tant du sort du monde se trouvent sans doute plusieurs «donneurs de leçon» qui croient avoir mieux compris que tous les autres. C’est un point de vue critique que j’ai de la difficulté à ne pas entretenir. Mais il s’agit plus d’une réaction personnelle que d’une analyse solide.

Revenons à nos moutons. Et au nombril, centre d’un certain univers.

Le nombrilisme a-t-il une place? De par mon orientation altrocentrique, j’ai tendance à croire que non. Jusqu’à tout récemment, ma vision personnelle du monde n’accordait que peu de valeur à l’égocentrisme, au retour sur soi. Je tolérais l’égoïsme des autres mais j’étais si intransigeant envers mon propre comportement que je n’osais presque pas «penser à moi». Depuis quelques temps, suite à une démarche très personnelle, j’ai appris à être moins sévère à mon égard et à accepter l’indulgence centrée sur soi-même. Il y a un aspect thérapeutique au fait d’accepter de se faire du bien à soi-même.

Ayant déjà énoncé un thème lié à une chanson, voici quelques paroles d’une autre chanson, tirée d’une comédie musicale des années 1920 et interprétée par plusieurs musiciens de Jazz:

I want to be happy
But I won’t be happy
Till I make you happy too.

J’aime bien cette pièce, en tant que standard de Jazz. Mais en tant que perspective sur le bonheur, ces paroles semblent représenter une vision assez problématique: «je ne serai heureux que si je peux te rendre heureux(se)». Un bonheur aussi conditionnel peut-il mener à une réelle sérénité?

Bon, l’extrême inverse n’est probablement pas plus sensé. Une attitude sereine demande une certaine empathie, voire de la sympathie (du moins, pour ceux parmi nous qui ne sont pas ermites). Mais il doit bien y avoir un équilibre à trouver ou, tout simplement, une attitude qui tient compte tout à la fois du bonheur des autres et de son propre bonheur.

Beaucoup d’autres choses à dire sur le sujet. Entre autres, sur l’orientation-bonheur énoncée comme cure à la crise financière ou sur la compartimentalisation nombriliste dans certains contextes culturels (y compris au Québec). Ce sera pour plus tard. Mon propre petit moi individuel égoïste me fait signe.