AmpMe is not really a brand-new app that sprang out of nowhere to defraud naïve consumers. See the picture at the top of this page? That was back in 2015, when we first reported on the concept: a free software that can turn a room full of cellphones into a single massive speaker. However, as Software Store fraud hunter Kosta Eleftheriou points out, the app still appears dodgy after more than six years – if you downloaded it yesterday, it would attempt to sell you on a $9.99 per week automatic recurring membership. That works up to $520 each year, which is a huge amount if you use it as a party trick and then forget to cancel.
According to AppFigures, the app has earned $13 million since its launch in 2018.
As we detailed in April, finding frauds on Apple’s App Store is laughably simple – simply follow the money and read the reviews. Something is wrong if you notice an app that has a lot of five-star reviews yet demands outrageous membership rates. And if those evaluations seem to be completely phoney, and the software is hardly working, you’ve most likely stumbled into a con.
What’s harder to come by is a corporation that has been accused of scamming and is eager to defend itself. Most are deafeningly quiet, however we received a response from AmpMe’s support email address when we contacted them for comment. Here it is in its entirety:
The free version of our app is the most popular version and the vast majority of our users never paid a dime. Given its reception and popularity, AmpMe is a valued app and works as advertised.
To claim that our users are commonly paying $520 per year does not reflect reality. For example, in 2021, the average user that subscribed and took advantage of our free trial paid a total average of $17. If you take only paying users, the average yearly subscription revenue is about $75. Internally, this has reinforced our belief that AmpMe’s pricing is transparent with clear and easy opt-out procedures.
Regarding the reviews, we hear the feedback loud and clear. Through the years, like most startups, we’ve hired outside consultants to help us with marketing and app store optimization. More oversight is needed and that’s what we are currently working on.
We always adhere to Apple’s subscription guidelines and are continually working to ensure their high standards are met. We also respect and value the community’s feedback. Therefore, a new version of the app with a lower price has already been submitted to the App Store for review.
The AmpMe Team
Although we can’t verify AmpMe’s figures, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. There are at least three more noteworthy points in the response:
- AmpMe isn’t denigrating the fact that it paid someone to promote their app on the App Store. It’s also not promising not to do so in the future. It’s just a way of deflecting responsibility. Maybe it’s enraged that its consultants lied about the evaluations. Maybe they’re simply irritated that they were discovered.
- As a consequence of the investigation, AmpMe has reduced its pricing. In reality, the company’s upgrade was accepted and is now available on the shop. It’s now $4.99 per week, or $260 per year.
- AmpMe isn’t going away, claiming that its membership strategy is “open with clear and straightforward opt-out processes.”
I obtained a copy of AmpMe, and I have to say, it’s not as obvious as I had anticipated after hearing the news. While it does hit you with a subscription request the instant you start the app, tempting you into a three-day free membership, and the small “X” to avoid that page is difficult to see, the app does at least plainly state how much it will charge straight away in bold white letters.
And even if you do press the “X” and avoid the membership, the app seems to work — if just as a method to view YouTube music videos while chatting with randos or pals, since AmpMe’s sync-multiple-phones-as-speakers feature is hidden behind the paywall.
It is becoming usual to profit on people’s forgetfulness.
So it’s not surprising that Apple isn’t removing this software from the App Store (and instead seems to be assisting AmpMe in cleaning up the more blatant phoney reviews, according to TechCrunch). It’s hardly one of the biggest offenders, but given the status of the tech sector, many firms, including Apple, benefit from the “whoops, forgot to cancel my membership” situation.
But, as I stated in September, the world’s most valuable and lucrative firm, the one that markets privacy as a brand and purports to put consumers first, should do a lot more to demonstrate that. Instead of following, it may lead here. It should cease benefiting off people’s forgetfulness, give immediate refunds when individuals are defrauded, disable auto-renewal memberships by default, and eliminate the star rating system, which enables review fakes to thrive. It reintroduced a means to legitimately report App Store frauds in October, based on one of those proposals. We have a lot more.
I’m curious how much more there is to this “outside consultants” concept that AmpMe brings up. It’s not the first time Eleftheriou has discovered a corporation that has an apparently genuine app that has been available for years sprouting a fresh set of bogus ratings and a new screen promoting an outrageous membership fee that you must pay or delete the first time you open. (Many of these displays even have a similar appearance.) I wouldn’t be shocked if firms are offering this identical service to outdated applications in return for a percentage of the money. (It appears that this isn’t the first time AmpMe’s CEO has profited from an old app.)
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