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Google Takes Away One Advantage Cuts Android Marketplace Refund Windows Down to 15 Minutes



Ouch! I am reading lots of angry stuff about this move all over the web. Google has done some tweaking with its Android Marketplace and one of those tweaks is to shorten the refund window from 24 hours to 15 minutes. That’s quite a tweak. Although I’ve still yet to join the Android game, I’ve always looked at the 24 hour refund windows as a great competitive edge for Google. Buy an App, if you don’t like it or it doesn’t measure up you uninstall it within 24 hours and you get a refund. Sounds like a great way to market and for consumers a great way to take a chance on something you might pass on given how App Stores (all of them) are notoriously difficult to wade through.

I know from my own App shopping experience on iOS devices if I have the slightest doubt I usually don’t pull the trigger. I may stash something in my Wish List, but I seldom go back to make the purchase. I also am victim to purchasing an App or two and not even trying them out for a few days. Given that Apple’s refund scheme is byzantine at best I figure I’ve already spent the dough so it doesn’t matter. I’ve often looked at Android’s return policy with envy because of that.

Google is saying it is doing this at the behest of developers and some are saying it is to thwart piracy. Some complaints I’m seeing point out that the 15 minutes is from the moment of purchase not when the App is downloaded or run and that some Apps can take a few minutes to download effectively reducing the now tiny 15 minute window even further. The bottom line for Apple and now Google, and any other digital market place is a simple one as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care that we’re talking inexpensive purchases. There needs to be a clean and easy refund mechanism in place for consumers. If they don’t do it themselves, eventually some regulatory agency will step in and force them to.

I’m guessing this hue and cry about this will just get louder as more and more people hear about it.

What about you GBM Android users? How does this affect you? Are you angry? Not bothered? Let us know in the comments.



  1. Samdmsugarloaf

    12/11/2010 at 7:25 pm

    It is a bad, user unfriendly move!

  2. Patrick K. / xPatriicK

    12/11/2010 at 7:37 pm

    It is a great, developer friendly move!

    (but I don’t like the change either)

    • Anonymous

      12/16/2010 at 3:22 am

      Guess it all depends on the individual, but I honestly see this as growing the black market a lot more than I see it helping devs. I have never pirated an android app due to the ability to fully test apps. But you can be sure I am going to look for apps to download and test long before pulling the trigger on buying something now. 15 minutes is nowhere near enough time to determine if an application is going to work for me. Games, maybe. Other apps? You can’t even get half of them configured in 15 min.

      Android apps on torrent or other p2p sites are only going to get more popular now. Not less.

  3. Benjamin Ferrari

    12/11/2010 at 7:40 pm

    many 99c – $3 apps work because customers accept this price for short term entertainment or single use applications. Buying some game for $1 when you are bored is nothing you need to consider for long, it’s just like buying an espresso at a restaurant or putting $1 into an arcade machine.

    24h refund kindof kills this business model, and I think that is why it was removed. But 15 minutes is the other extreme: That is not enough time to evaluate the usefulness of the more complex applications.

    I think a one hour window would be the way to go.

    • quillaja

      12/11/2010 at 9:49 pm

      If that’s truly the case, maybe games should have a 15 minute window, and other apps should have a 24 hour window. 15 is too short to tell if the app is good or not.

  4. Wazupwiturface

    12/11/2010 at 8:13 pm

    15 minutes from install time or from its first use would serve the purpose from developers standpoint wouldn’t it?

  5. DeveloperX

    12/11/2010 at 8:31 pm

    As both an Android and iPhone developer I feel that developing for the Android platform was a waste of time. My apps would get good reviews and I wouldn’t get any sales. Everyone bought my apps and returned them. I had a 80% return rate. So I haven’t developed for Android since. On the iPhone I make good sales without good reviews. And I have less than 1% return rate.

    I think this is a great move for Google and I might consider developing for Android again.

    • rent a car

      12/11/2010 at 10:39 pm

      You’re right..

    • sdave

      12/12/2010 at 4:55 am

      80% return rate? I don’t that speaks to google, but rather your development skills and people returning something that they didn’t find useful or was too expensive. Take a look in the mirror and reevaluate your business plan.

    • Travis_p

      01/16/2011 at 5:41 am

      Have you considered that people may be returning your apps because they crash or are buggy on their particular phone?

      I have attempted to return 2 Android apps so far, one because it unfailingly crashes immediately on startup, the other was a game where the sprites were replaced by black boxes (virtually unplayable). Both were compatibility errors on my new phone. Both times I attempted to get a refund as quickly as I could (within 2 minutes of testing the app) and failed.

      I came to this page searching for answers on what seemed a baffling and infuriating error. If this is the policy, I’ll simply never buy an app that doesn’t have a free trial. 15 minutes from when you start the app is just barely reasonable testing time if people are clearly warned up front. 15 minutes from the moment you press the buy button is simply a trap.

      • Boyblue232323

        11/21/2011 at 12:03 pm

        see pic

  6. Steroni

    12/12/2010 at 11:36 pm

    Bad… I always thought Google is friendlier than Apple.

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