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Poll: Android Market return policy length?

Poll: Android Market return policy length?

Currently, the Android Market return policy allows you 15 minutes to download and evaluate a new app purchase. If you discover that the app is not what you wanted (or is not of sufficient quality), you may “return” it for a full refund. Since the policy changed from 24 hours, there has been significant discussion on the length of the return window and what (if any) length of time is appropriate.

Should the Android Market have a longer return timeline? If so, how much longer would be acceptable? Or, should it take after the Apple App Store and not allow simple refunds at all? We’d love to hear what you think! Vote and voice your opinion below.

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26 Comments

  1. Half the time, the 15 minutes is less time than it takes to download and install the damn app!

    • The countdown doesn’t start until the app is downloaded.

  2. First folks, the countdown doesn’t even start until the app is downloaded.

    Second, 99% of the apps on the Market take much less time than 15 minutes to see if they work.

    Finally, so many users have been complaining about how the refund policy time was shortened many months ago. This complaining needs to stop…seriously. The Android Market is the only app store that even gives you a chance at a refund. Just be glad you even get a chance.

    From a dev’s perspective, the refund policy is a pain in the ass. We see a third or more of all sales refunded each month. It makes it so that selling apps on the Market impossible to be a profitable venture. For my app, all proceeds go to charity and it sucks to see a good chunk of change lost due to refunds. Think about it. Google already takes 30% of the proceeds….then we see about the same get refunded…

    iPhone users don’t bat an eye at the idea of paying a dollar or two for an app knowing that they won’t get a refund if they don’t like it, yet Android users complain about it all the time. They even expect devs to have free versions of their apps as well. That amounts to doubling the work for us. So that comes out to double the work for half the pay. Would you do twice the work for half the pay?

    And people wonder why there aren’t a lot of good, polished, high quality Android apps out there. Its simple, devs don’t see the reward and/or gratification. Hell, I get users who will give me 1 star reviews and nasty comments all because my app doesn’t do something that I clearly state in the description it doesn’t do.

    All in all, Android users should be more humble and gracious for the few devs out there who do put a lot of time and effort to release good apps. Seriously, check the Market and you will see that it is flooded with mostly crap apps, spam apps, porn, cloned apps, etc. If you want more and better apps, then support the devs.

    • Kahlil, I understand your concerns. But the complaints of the majority of users is not about you. In my opinion, people are right about the 15 minutes scam, and a boycot should follow. If you have confidence in what you make, please make a demo that works longer than a few minutes. That way, you won’t be affected by the (unevitable) boycott of paid Android apps. Sorry to say, and a pity for the otherwise unnessecary hours, but Google made you do that, by cutting out their own reasonable evaluation time to almost zero. They just did it for the makers of games that bore between 15 minutes and 24 hours. Giving a boost to piracy was a calculated risk for them. Pleas bark up the right tree.

  3. The problem is the quality of chargeable apps available and whether or not they actually do what they are supposed to. In the UK one can buy goods “at a distance” and return the goods within 7 days if they are not suitable – no matter what the reason.

    I have downloaded a significant number of paid apps and discovered that some of them do not do perform as expected. Some apps with complicated set-ups like a remote desktop or apps like media players mean that it can easly be more than 15 minutes before bugs or shortcomings are found.

    User comments are sometimes helpful but if the refund window remains a short 15 minutes, potential buyers may be reluctant. Someone mentioned the Apple Apps store where there are no refunds – I think this is only because the quality of apps is pretty strictly controlled by Apple – the Android Market is rather more of a unknown quantity or quality.

  4. @UKAndoid – 15 minutes is more than enough time to test 99% of the apps out there. The only ones that would take longer are the very feature rich apps, like GPS apps, etc. Having a defect in the app is a chance you take. Let’s not forget that it is DIGITAL MEDIA. As far as I can tell, the Android Market is the only place where you can return digital media for a full refund. When you buy a mp3 or download a movie you pay for, do you get to return those? Nope.

    User comments are almost never reliable. So many comments are biased ones that are meant to sway. So many comments aren’t any good because the users expected the app to do something it was never meant to do. This leaves only a handful of good, honest reviews.

    Do you want to know why there are issues with apps on one device and not on another? Its because for Android, there is no standardization between manufacturers. One app may work flawlessly on a Motorola device, but may have all kinds of issues on an HTC device. Users then blame the devs for this when it is in no way their fault. We can’t test our apps on every single device out there and guarantee that it will work flawlessly.

    I for one would welcome the Android Market to have some manner of app vetting. No one wants it to be like Apple and how strict they are, but some quality assurance would be welcomed. Right now, anyone can upload any kind of app they want to the Android Market. Its gotten to the point where I don’t even bother browsing through anymore. I see lots of porn anymore….tons of apps that are just clones of each other with different names….apps that are nothing more than browsers….apps that are nothing more than news feeds, etc.

    All in all…I’ll repeat what I said earlier. Android users shouldn’t be so belligerent about the refund policy and they should feel lucky that they even get it. While users love being able to get a full refund because they simply changed their mind, find a major bug or for whatever other reason….devs don’t like seeing a third or more of their sales go away. There are a lot of chronic refunders out there too. I’ve seen the time stamps in my Google Checkout page that tells me when they got the app and when they refunded the app….and there has been some that literally refunded right after they got the app. There was no way they could have used the app to test it out. Devs see that a lot. There should be a better process where to get a refund, the users has to have a valid reason aside from buyer’s remorse. Something like a major bug.

    If Google doesn’t come up with something that is deemed fair by both users and devs, then things in the Android Market aren’t going to change. The number of really good apps will be few and far between and the number of crap apps will continue to rise and flood the market. This is why iPhone apps tend to be superior to their Android counterparts in looks and function. Devs tend to avoid Android development because of two reaons…..the users and the refund policy. The users expect free versions that in reality means twice the work for half the return. Then the refund policy means that a third or more of the sales are refunded. Look at it like this…. Say you get $300 in total downloads in a month. about a third of that gets refunded due to the policy. So right off the bat you go from $300 down to $200. Then goole takes 30% of what is left before you get paid out. So now your final payout is just $140. See? By the time you get paid out from Google, you see your take cut in half. Would you like that? Would you see that as a fair deal or worth while venture? If any other business in the world saw their profits cut so drastically, that business wouldn’t last. If us devs knew before hand that our take from paid apps would be so dismal for the amount of hard work that goes into making a good, high quality app, we never would have. That’s why devs tend to avoid Android.

    So unless Google comes up with something that is more fair to devs, things won’t change in the Android Market.

    • Personally I have no problem paying up to $5 for an app without having tested it. Usually I will buy something forget about it and play with it later. If i don’t like it I try to send my comments to the dev and thank them for their work.

      I often find amazing apps that have a free version. I opt for the free version at first, but if I find a bug or want a feature added I buy or donate before asking the dev to do more work.

      from my personal experience every android dev I have contacted was very polite, quick responding, and had a genuine interest in fixing the issue or adding the feature I was asking about. The direct communication line you have with developers from the android market is amazing. I recommended writing a dev before giving them a bad review. Personally I think that your review should be removed in you un-installed the app. that is one way to get rid of bad reviews for simple bugs or people mad about not reading the description of an app before complaining about something that is not there and was not intended to be there.

      I would like to see a longer return policy applied to applications over a certain dollar price. For example if the app is $10 let me test it for an hour. Usually when you buy a digital download of an mp3 or a movie you can listen or watch a sample first. Similarly in video games they give us demo’s to play. It is true that most ios users don’t care about spending a dollar or two for an app, it is also true that they complain about bigger expensive apps that they can not try out. I have personally heard this complaint many times from the users I support and from customers in apple stores when I am picking up equipment .

      Maybe a solution is to only apply the testing period to expensive apps or apps made by a large company like EA or Gameloft. Or maybe apply a 1 hour testing period to all apps before payment is charged, similar to shareware, let you use it for a day before making you pay for it.

      It is really to bad that androids strengths are its weaknesses, but the same goes for apple ios devices. Android has a open market and an open platform, so there is less quality control. Apple is completely closed and controlled by apple, thus you get top quality control.

      I am glad to see us discussing options here. I think that android users need to change how they look at the market payment process, google should create and enforce better policy, and the devs should lower their expectations of users. Most users don’t care to file a bug report, or contact the devs if they have a problem or want an additional feature. They take the consumer mindset and give a bad review or return the product. Apple treats its users like people that don’t know how to use a computer, and they end up with less user issues in general by having a much more strict quality control process for app submissions.

      I like the open aspects of android and the market, I also like the quality control you get from apple. Developers deserve to get paid well for their work, users want quality control and consumer rights that have become standard in todays market. Now how can we get the best of both worlds?

      • I like the idea of extending the return window for more expensive apps (e.g. $9.99+). It seems like more Android users would end up purchasing (and keeping) the app because they aren’t afraid of the 15 minute window.

    • Do you think the shortened return window might actually result in less revenue for developers (as compared to a longer return window) because users will simply choose not to buy an app in the first place? For example, a longer return window acts much like a free trial where the user has time to find out how useful an app is and is then more likely to complete the purchase.

      • Its kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t thing. If they have a longer refund window, users are more likely to get a refund because they have a longer chance to develop buyer’s remorse. I would say buyer’s remorse is the leading reason for refunds. Every single refund for my app states the reason as “Other”. Meaning the app worked fine, they just decided they didn’t want it. So with the longer refund window, us devs are losing money.

        If they shorten the refund window, then users are less likely to buy. In turn they demand we also release free versions. If we do a free version, then that means we do twice the work for half the return. Also, releaseing a free version doesn’t mean that users will buy the paid version because they liked the free version. So shortening the refund window, us devs are losing money.

        Either way we aren’t turning a fair profit for the hard work and support that goes into developing a quality app. This policy has nothing to do with us devs as we didn’t make the policy….yet we are the ones getting the negative end all around. It also has a lot to do with the difference between iPhone and Android users. As has been said and is well known, iPhone users don’t have a problem spending a dollar or two on an app knowing that they won’t get a refund if they don’t like it. Yes, those apps are vetted, but still. Android users on the other hand act like spending a dollar or two is a fortune. At least Android users get a refund window. If they buy an Android app and don’t like it, they can get a full refund. So what’s the big issue there? I don’t see it. But instead of just buying the app and trying it, they expect us to make them a free version. Again, more work for us devs for less profitable returns. Android users expect far too much. I’ve also seen that they tend to be more rude with their ratings and comments. Most of the time they don’t rate or comment based on how the app functions as described. Hence most comments/ratings that are negative are so for two reasons….users don’t know how to user their phones (like not knowing what a live wallpaper is) or they don’t read the app’s description and expect the app to do something it was never meant or designed to do.

        So yeah… I, along with most devs I would assume, think that the policy does more harm than good.

  5. The problem is. Iphone is an IPhone. They should at least get 15 mins though, sucks for apple guys. Just another reason to hate apple. Androids are all a little different in there own way. Some apps work good on one phone and crapy on another.

    • I think 15 mins is plenty of time. But at the same time maybe a 24 hour free trial would be cool. If you like it you buy it and no refunds.

  6. We are android, not apple. Let’s be android and nobody else. I’m not sure about what people are talking about when they say the countdown doesn’t start until the app is downloaded. I personally think that statement is incorrect. I bought spb shell, it took almost 10 min to download, once it was done and i played with it for a few and checked on the time I had left, 2 min is what I had left. And no, 2min is not enough time to see if the app would work. Nobody told developers to make and sell apps, you do it because you want….don’t complain because we want value and quality for our money, I don’t care if its $1 or $15. Apple people must be rich if they don’t care about throwing money out the window. Raise the time back to 24hrs….then maybe developers would see a raise in sales since people wouldn’t care about buying apps at all. I know I don’t buy nearly as many as I use to because of the limit.

  7. And android users “expect” free versions?? Users put guns to developers heads and say “give us those free apps or else”…..we may want them, but you devs have the control on whether to do it or not. Pppfft

    • If you aren’t getting 15 minutes after the app is downloaded, then contact Google because that is their stated policy.

      Next, Android users will whine and moan on sites and forums about this refund policy. The policy was changed several months ago, they should have gotten over it by now. The thing is, users will complain and demand that we also make free versions, yet they still have the 15 minute refund window. There is no point to it and like I said before, developing both free and paid versions amounts to doing twice the work for half has much. If you are getting a refund window, then we have no motivation to build free versions as well. Its plain and simple, Android users demand too much and make it seem like us devs should be given them “lip service” just for them to spend a buck or two on our apps. Then when they buy they app, they refund it anyway…mostly due to buyer’s remorse and not because there was anything wrong with the app.

      Like I said, the current policy does less good than it should. When we see about 30% of sales refunded and then another 30% of our remaining sales going into Google’s pocket, we are left with only about 40%.

      All of the proceeds of my app goes to help cancer patients in need, and yet I still get chronic refunders. I get users who leave 1 star ratings and nasty comments because they don’t know what a live wallpaper is or how to use one. Or they leave 1 star ratings and nasty comments because the app doesn’t do something that I state in plain english that it doesn’t do. I’ve even have had several users with buyers remorse give me 1 star ratings and nasty comments and then they email me offering me a better rating and comment if I gave them a full refund.

      And you wonder why devs aren’t flocking to the aOS platform? The ungrateful users. Its simple, if you like apps, then let the devs know. Support the devs for their hard work so we’ll be more motivated to bring you good, high quality apps for Android. It would also help if device manufacturers would standardize their phones so that our apps will work the same on any Android device.

  8. The point is that the refund policy is Google’s policy. It has nothing to do with app developers. Users act like they are the ones being victimized by the policy. As though money is being taken out of their pockets. The fact is that the policy isn’t hurting users in any way. Its hurting us devs. Users who don’t like that policy will try to boycott all paid apps. They then demand that us devs go and make free versions of all our apps. Again, that is just us doing twice the work for less profit return. The policy is hurting us devs, especially those of us who make high quality apps for you users.

    If we were to do the free apps to, to try and make up some of the lost income, we have to put ads. Do you like ads? I personally hate em. I won’t install any apps with ads in them. Why? Because a lot of devs don’t know how to implement them aesthetically. They place the ads right next to functional app buttons so users have a high chance of accidentally clicking the ads, thereby increasing ad revenue. So… Would you rather pay a buck or two for a good app? Or would you rather have an app with less features and filled with ads? Again, when there is a refund policy like this one, there is NO point to making free or test versions. If you don’t like the app for whatever reason, get a refund.

    Oh, and if you are downloading a large app, then try turning on your wifi to download it faster….especially if you are in fact not getting 15 minutes to evaluate it after it downloads.

    • I don’t like ads, but I also like free apps. That is why good devs know they can make money 2 ways, one with a free add supported app and another pay version to remove apps and possibly add features not vital to the app. People that use free apps know that they aren’t paying and therefore don’t usually complain (or shouldn’t) unless there is no option to remove them.

      I’m all for devs making money, but be creative if you have to be. I’m more than happy to use an app with adds if that is the free version….and if I like it I will pay to rid myself of the nuisance.

  9. I PURCHASED A GAME BUT UNKNOWN TO ME IT REQUIRED ADDITIONAL DATA WHICH IS NOT AN ISSUE BUT BY THE TIME THE DATA DOWNLOADED MY 15 MINUTES WERE OVER THEN THE GAME WOULD NOT WORK AND I COULD NOT BE REFUNDED.

  10. Again, this is an issue to do with Google, not the developers. You can’t blame or take out your frustration on developers. Also, apps or games that require supplemental downloads have to state this per policy. It should also be common practice that if you are downloading games, you should expect that their sizes are large or that there may be more to download. So….why not turn on your wifi so you can download quickly?

    Can’t blame devs for the policy and it isn’t fair to take it out on them. It also isn’t our fault when users don’t read app descriptions where it clearly states what the app does, doesn’t do and if the app requires supplemental downloads.

    Also folks, don’t forget that you can contact the developers at any time and request a refund after the 15 minute window has passed. If you have a valid reason for requesting one, then if it is a reputable dev, then you should get your refund. But if you just have buyer’s remorse and just want a refund for the hell of it, then don’t hold your breath.

  11. Here’s a bombshell – not all apps are created equal. To treat the evaluation of all apps as if they all do the same thing is a disservice to the customer. There are some apps that just cannot be evaluated in 15 minutes. There is a large body of apps for which 15 minutes is enough. But if the app requires setup before you can tell if it works for you or data to analyze before you can tell if it does what you need it to do (glucose readings for example)then an evaluation period of several hours is needed. In short what’s needed are evaluation periods tied to the function of the app.

    • Would it be a good idea to let developers decide the length of the evaluation period on a per app basis? Default setting could be left at 15 minutes.

  12. The prossess it’s self it too complicated. Time frame is too short to even have understood the app you purchased.!!

  13. 15 minutes is fine for inexpensive games. For expensive utility programs, especially those that often have compatibility issues, the refund period needs to be much longer.

  14. I think some developers May be getting a little greedy….. You have the perfect scenario… Invest your time writing some code and place your app in the worldwide accessible store and potentially make 40% profit 100s, if not 1000s of times over. And what was your investment? time? wow! Think about how good you have it before you whine that everyone’s taking your money. Step into my shoes and pay rent, payroll, fuel, taxes, water, electricity, food and then building repairs. You got it made if you are putting out the best app.

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