Tuesday, January 1, 2013

DUNS - the fraudulent secret startup cost of iOS development

You created your first iOS developer account under your name for $99. It was a pretty simple setup process, and you got going in a day or two.

Now you want to charge for your app, and you've read enough to know that you want to put the iOS account under the control of your business, so you go through the account upgrade process. Everything is about as easy as it was before, until you get to this nasty step:

Enter your D-U-N-S number. If you're not familiar with DUNS, here's the acronym:

Decidedly
Unuseful
Non
Service

...or Data Universal Numbering System, run by Dun and Bradstreet, a private company.

Supposedly it's free, and you can get a number in 30 days! That seems like a long time, but at least it's free. You can plan for 30 days, and work around it.

...except it's not 30 days. That's a lie they tell you online to up-sell you into an expedited purchase.

When you actually *call* Dun and Bradstreet, some prick in sales informs you that "30 days is an estimate, and it can be 45 days or longer depending on the backlog". At that point, you can pay $230 for Mr. Sales prick to click a button so you can get your number *tomorrow*.

I have no doubt that this whole process is run on some legacy mainframe system, and a day is really the best they can do without a major system overhaul. But advertising 30 days (and getting users to plan around that time) is fraud, plain and simple.

But why does apple need this DUNS service? TONS of apps get through the app store that are plain fraudulent or awful. What does DUNS provide?

Hell, when I was on the phone with Mr. Sales prick, I was curt, rude, and insisted that I did not need to be further up-sold on some background check or "filing". I challenge anyone to fail the DUNS accreditation process. With $230 on the line and a chance at more "for special services", there's no way some John Smith in sales is going to deny your request.

The Google Play store has no such DUNS accreditation, and it's not collapsing.

So please, Apple, drop this non-service. Dun and Bradstreet sell an imaginary product, and their accreditation means less than the Facebook like I got on a picture I took of my lunch.

Disclaimer: I expedited the DUNS request for $230. I made promises to customers that I didn't plan on breaking.