Every time I convince myself that there is nothing Booker could do that would surprise me (I have the bar for customer service set pretty low), they surprise me. A new low.
We currently pay Booker by MindBody $129/month for the Booker Essential plan and another $30/month for the privilege of using a custom, customer-facing app that allows our customers to schedule and cancel appointments. As a side note, about 5 years ago Booker asked me if I would help them beta test this app. This means that I was troubleshooting the app for them and making suggestions to them on how to get this app ready for general use. I never expected any special treatment because of my efforts with the beta test, only a voice that would help me get the best final product possible for my customers.
After just a few years of using the app with our customers, Booker handed off future development of the app, and responsibility, to Swiftic, an app developer somewhere in Europe. These types of arrangements are always promoted as better for the customer (me, in this case) since Swiftic does full-time app development. Furthermore, I still have to maintain developer accounts with both Apple for the Apple App Store and Google for the Google Play Store to make all of this work. And I pay $99/year to be an Apple “developer.”
With Swiftic, I can maker very rudimentary charges to our Booker app using their web-interface, but the tools seem out of date, inconsistent, and limited in functionality. Reaching out to tech support with Swiftic typically gets me an answer akin to, “yeah, we don’t do that.” It seemed as though I had lost any voice I may have had when this change occurred.
Fast forward to January of 2022. Since Apple sees me as the developer (hence, my developer account with them), Apple emailed me with some guideline changes. My Booker app now needs to be updated to reflect these changes by 6-30-22. This latest email from Apple references Guideline 5.1.1, which you can read verbatim below:
Account deletion within apps
App Store Review Guideline 5.1.1 provides people with greater control over their personal data by stating that all apps that allow for account creation must also allow users to initiate deletion of their account from within the app. This requirement was set to apply to all app submissions by January 31, 2022. Due to the complexity of implementing this requirement, we’ve extended the deadline to June 30, 2022 to give you more time.
Please keep these requirements in mind when updating your app:
- The account deletion option should be easy to find in your app.
- It’s insufficient to only provide the ability to temporarily disable or deactivate an account. People should be able to delete the account along with their personal data.
- Apps in highly-regulated industries may need to provide additional support flows to confirm and facilitate the account deletion process.
- Follow applicable legal requirements for storing and retaining user account information. This includes complying with local laws in different countries or regions. As always, check with your legal counsel.
I looked through the Swiftic tools to see if I could fulfill this requirement there. After not finding the tools I needed, I contacted Swiftic support and asked, “Per Apple’s App Store guideline 5.1.1 (attached below), I need to allow my app users to delete their accounts upon request. How do I add that feature to my app, Restoration Counseling Service?”
Here is the reply I received from Swiftic customer support on 1-24-22:
“Thank you for reaching out to us!
Please note that there is no such functionality, that allows users to create profiles in the app.
If you have a website that is added as a Web Page to the app, you need to create this button on your website, so users will be able to delete the account.
If you have other questions, feel free to contact us.”
Since the “web app” portion of this belongs to Booker and is under their full control, Booker is the only one who can add this required feature. So I contacted Booker to inquire about adding this required feature. Here is the response I received from Booker on 1-24-22:
Thank you for the response. I have checked with the management but there’s nothing we can do about any of this right now since it’s an Apple store change. Since you have Booker Custom App thru Swiftic, please send them an email to email@example.com to see how long their account will be live. But it looks like it wont be deleted until June.
If you have any questions, feel free to check out our help center at https://help.booker.com/s, reply to this email, or give us a call at 866.966.9798. Thank you for choosing booker, have a great day!”
So, to summarize, Swiftic says it’s not their problem and Booker says it’s not their problem. Note Booker’s language which said, “there’s nothing we can do.” Yet, I continue to pay $30/month for an app that does not meet current Apple App Store guidelines and will be discontinued soon and removed from the App Store. Am I missing anything here?
While trying to troubleshoot a different item in our Booker customer app, I thought I would explore the app to see if there is some way to come up with a workaround that might allow customers to request account deletion from within the app as Apple now requires. What I discovered floored me!
Once I was signed in, I selected “ACCOUNT” to see what features where present (the first screenshot). Once in my account settings I scrolled down to discover a “Delete my account” button (the second screenshot).
The ability to request account deletion is already there in Booker’s web app, but neither the customer service representative I talk to on 1-24-22 nor “the management” that she talked to had any clue that this feature was already in the app. I have said often that Booker’s customer service is dismal, and this is a perfect example. After all, how can Booker hope to help others with their products when they don’t really understand them themselves?