Bob, residing outside of the US, has installed a mobile app run by a California-based business and paid a one-year subscription worth under $200.

The app happens to have a showstopper bug: basically, because of the bug, Bob cannot use the app for its main purpose.

Bob creates a support ticket with bugreport, attaches screen recording but the guys at the business keep responding with rubbish like "sorry we cannot open the attachment you sent, please try again". Bob tried different formats, even uploaded the video on YouTube and sent the link, but the response from the support team is literally the same all the time (copy-pasted).

Bob thinks that he has a winning case, but Small Claims court in California requires plaintiff to be present in person. Bob does not mind spending more on the litigation than the actual under-$200 damages — provided that the likelihood that all litigation expenses will be awarded to him is high.

  1. How practicable is to file and win this lawsuit with all litigation expenses awarded without visiting the US? Either with or without a lawyer.
  2. Whilst the Small Claims court requires plaintiff to be present in person, does the "normal" court require the same?

1 Answer 1


Bob doesn’t

When Bob paid for the app he used an online store like Apple or used a credit card. If the former, Bob asks for a refund from the store who will almost certainly give it. If the latter, he disputes the charge with his credit card company and, as he has plenty of evidence to show that no service was delivered.

  • This is good practical advice if a credit card or online store was used, but it doesn't quite answer the question. It's possible that the person did something like a direct funds transfer, or used an unregistered prepaid card.
    – D M
    Commented Apr 6, 2019 at 20:52
  • Bob used online store like Apple indeed, but its policy is such that hassle-free refunds only allowed in the first 2 hours or so. If something gets wrong later, the store advises to contact the app developer for refund. No CC chargeback is available because that would go against the online store, not the app dev.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Apr 6, 2019 at 21:48
  • 1
    @Greendrake but Bob is not in California and his consumer protection laws apply
    – Dale M
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 1:15
  • Not sure how Bob's home country consumer protection can help him. Obtain court order where he lives and try to get California court enforce it?
    – Greendrake
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 3:20
  • @Greendrake virtually everywhere in the world except the US, consumers are entitled to a refund if a product doesn’t work. The major online stores know this and honor it - they learned from Valve’s multi-million dollar fine.
    – Dale M
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 5:24

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