The refund policy for paid apps purchased from Google’s Play Store has varied since it’s inception all those years ago. Currently if you choose to refund an app within two hours of its purchase it is automatically refunded from developer payouts. What many don’t know is that you can apply for a refund outside of this time frame.
If you go to your Play Store orders page, find the app in question and click on the 3-dot menu icon. In there you will see options that will lead you to a box where you fill in the issue you are having and request a refund. Apparently the reply and decision is automated and the developer nor Google get a right of reply. Currently the entire refund cost is absorbed by Google but this is set to change.
In an email sent out to developers Google have stated that a new change of policy will result in developers being liable for ALL refunds. It seems that this automatic refund process will stay in place but will be tweaked. What this means is unknown but we hope that frivolous returns by people too tight to drop a few dollars on an app are not just automated. We don’t want people taking advantage of developers, otherwise we may not get nice things anymore.
The email, obtained by 9to5Google talks about a new Voided Purchases API being available to developers to help developers “maintain a fair ecosystem in your app or game”. The Voided Purchases API is meant to help developers prevent abuse of the policy but seems like a lot of work for a developer to implement.
With the new API, you can check which users have refunded or charged back in-app purchases in order to claw back those items for that user in your app or game. This change helps to deter abusive behavior and will make the ecosystem fairer for all users.
I like the idea of refunding apps outside of 48 hours but can see this being abused. I think the Play Store should be able to track app usage and if someone has used an app a certain number of times then they should not be able to claim a refund. What is to stop someone from refunding an app they have used extensively for months just because they do not use it anymore or a better one comes along. Hopefully Google are not alienating developers as apps is what drives a platform along.
What do you think?