So Just What Is The Ideal Refund Window for the Android Market? [VOTE NOW]

Since last Friday’s announcement of an overhauled Android Market, we’ve heard (and seen) plenty of complaints about the new return policy.  Many of you feel 15 minutes is simply not long enough to download an app/game and decide whether or not it’s worth keeping.  To Google’s credit, the new rating system and features being integrated into the Market should cut down the buyer’s remorse.  Being able to see YouTube videos, additional graphics, recent changes, and more should lessen the number of people walking blindly into a download.

So, what is the ideal return window for the Android Market?  If not 15 minutes, then what?  Vote in the poll below and tell us what you think Google should have opted for instead.  After that, jump to the comments and argue your point.   Why did you pick that particular time frame?

  • Developers still have the ability to refund beyond the Google’s automatic refund period via Google Checkout. It’s not as easy as simply uninstalling. You must email the dev and the dev must agree to the refund.

    Also consider Apple’s app store refund policy. There isn’t an automatic refund period at all.

  • enjoijams

    There should be an hour return period for games and 12 hours for apps.

  • Colin Dean

    We’re assuming that someone is going to use the application immediately. I might download and pay for something, but only use it once if at all, so I don’t really get a feel for if it’s worth it.

    Perhaps the time should be sliding based on cost? 4 hours per dollar, up to $6 (beyond is 24 hours)?

  • Chris

    I agree with Colin. More expensive apps should have longer refund periods, effectively giving their users a trial. Games and cheaper apps of course need to be shorter, 15 minutes isn’t unreasonable when you consider a lot of these games can be played through in less than 5 hours.

    I think this system would naturally fall into place if the developer could specify the time he wanted for each app.

  • B

    I don’t see why they can’t have a 15 minute window for games, and leave the rest of the apps as it is. Just like on an actual gaming console, a demo is just a portion of the full game; A level here a level there. A game is obviously designated as such when the developer uploads the apk to the market, right? Why can’t games just get special “rules?” With other apps, there are many things that you cannot possibly test out in 15 minutes. Nevermind the different options and settings. If there is one thing at the top of the list of concerns with mobile computing, it is battery life. What is you buy this anticipated new app, you actually enjoy it in those 15 minutes, but 4 hours later, you find that it took your battery’s innocence for all it’s worth? At the end of the day, it’s up to the devs to efficiently write battery code, but realistically, that’s not gonna happen all the time, and who’s to say the dev will be able to reconcile such issues? I completely understand game developer’s having a issue with jackoffs taking advantage, but “regular” apps are a whole different story.

  • Eddie Android

    I think an hour is more than enough to test an app.

    • TechnoHippy

      Erm no.

      Setting Profiles Full

      • Exactly. If you think you can evaluate Tasker, Locale, Setting Profiles or any personal finance app (to take just a few examples) in less than 48 hours to a week, I take my hat off to you!

        We need either different time frames for different categories of downloads, our for tyre developers to be able to specify the time frame.


  • seth

    Honestly as a developer, I think this is a great idea and we should see some of the amazing games and apps from apples market move over finally… cancellations are a headache for googles payment system as well as the developer… its a smart move… you don’t get to” test drive” a car for 24 hours!

    • cbroberts

      Every time I’ve purchased a car, I brought it home. Granted i left my car at the dealership, but it is a very large purchase so my vote is for tiered pricing. The more purchase the more the return window with the exception of games. I buy an app during work but may not get to test til later at night

    • bousozoku

      I can’t help but think that it’s like people buying a television right before the Super Bowl and trying to return it the next week. Sure, they wanted it, but they didn’t really want to buy it. People don’t want to be responsible for their actions and they often feel entitled to anything for free.

      As far as getting iOS-based applications on Android, Android has to grow up a bit. Even the everyday free apps that I have on both show a huge gap in their amazing factor. I’m amazed at how slick they work on my 2 year old iPod touch and I’m amazed how poor the functionality is on my brand new Froyo-based LG Optimus that has similar hardware, though the performance is good.

      I hope that developers will be more likely to provide Android-based applications of all kinds (from iOS, BlackBerry, WebOS, Symbian) to push Android further.

    • 15 minutes is not enough for navigation apps. What’s more dangerous than testing while driving? Purchasing apps while driving..

    • Norman

      Seth: Actually there is a federal law that any item can be returned within 3 days. I am not a lawyer so I don’t know all of the particulars but as I understand it any item you purchase may be returned within 3 days. There may be more to it, but I know people who have used it to return a vehicle. Also I have been given a car to take home for the night before I bought it to try it out.
      I believe 3 days should be a minimum. Maybe the money could sit in google accounts until the 3 day time period and then it goes to the developer. Just my $.02

    • Hollie Lambert

      Actually, yes you do. I have always taken a vehicle for an overnight test drive before buying and if you are a serious buyer, they want your business and will try to accomodate any requests. Many car companies now have a buyers remorse period of up to 60 days.

  • bryan

    The refund period for normal apps needs to be at least 12 hours to be able to determine the effect on battery life. I can see shorter refund periods for games but not for apps. It seems like Google is catering to game developers at the detriment of consumers.

  • Cutting the refund period will have one major effect (IMHO) – it will effectively kill off spontaneous purchases. People can no longer buy a game quickly on a coffee/lunch break at work, and then play with when they get home. Now they will think “I must install that later, when I have time to test it” and that will mean a whole load of them will never bother.

    As a developer, I understand the reasons why 15 minutes sounds like a great idea – prevent people from downloading your game, playing it all the way through, and then getting a refund. But in actuality 15 minutes is far too short and, as a user, 15 minutes might as well be 0 minutes.

    What would’ve been better is some sort of additional API that allowed a game to report % of game completion and to limit refunds after X hours _OR_ X% of completion. But that’s likely to be too complex at this stage I suspect. So instead, the majority of users are going to be damaged by the actions of a few, and Google have, IMHO, made a bad choice.

  • md

    There are trial/lite versions of apps in majority, so I don’t know where’s the issue here.

    • Johan

      Separate trial/lite versions is not the solution. When buying you have to uninstall the trial app, find the paid app, install it and all your data and settings from the trial app are lost. Not very convenient and will make me try/buy far fewer apps.

  • Keith

    I voted for 1 hour, but in reality I’d like to see Google give the power to the developer to let him/her determine the trial period. You know how complicated your app is. Set the trial period too low and you’ll get lots of refunds and poor ratings.

    I’d also like to see Google compel developers to get rid of those lite/trial apps. I want to test drive the real thing, warts and all, not some prettied up trial you put out to fool me into buying your wares.

    Sadly for consumers, I don’t think Google will listen to any of this.

    • Bad idea, how much confusion would that cause. I can see the market now… “WTF THIS APPS SUCKS WONT LET ME REFUND LIKE . DEV STEAL MY MONEYS”

      15 mins, well i normally refund within 5, but i think 15 is low. 1-3 hours would be ideal, to attempt to please both customers AND devs. 24 hours was just liable to be abused by all.

      On a positive note, I expect an influx of top notch games coming to android as a result of this.

      • Miguel

        Oh well they should have read the comments before purchasing. Let the consumer market set the appropriate refund window.

  • Unremarkableguy

    I love the idea of a refund window and 24 hours was extremely generous. What people forget is that this was not meant to be a try and buy feature. It simply allows you time to return the item to the “store,” just like you may have a return window at the old brick and mortar. The fact that we can return at all is nice. There aren’t many things distrusted digitally that allows returns. I think 1 hours is the sweet spot but I am happy to be able to return at all. If you need longer than that I would advise that you read reviews before you buy.

  • Nilz

    Your poll begs a one dimensional answer, where the solution probably is not.

    With regards to high street stores you often get refund policies that are more complex than a set time frame for all products. There are often products that have specific refund policies/restriction that differ from the rest, some items are only refunded within a few days other’s you have 28 days, and some have no refund policy at all.

    Some types of apps only have a life time of minutes, such as comics, and some only a few hours such as games. So in my opinion, either Google should introduce different refund policies for each category, which could be seen as too complex for consumers and would lead some apps getting unsuitable refund policies, or we let the developers decide a refund policy for each of their apps and publish this on the apps page in the market.

    Personally I favour the later, it’s always better to let the people decide, even if it were indirectly. If developers favoured bad refund policies, then they would lose customer and feel the hit. This would then force them to make better refund policies and still encourage them to make better apps that consumers wouldn’t want a refund for. Similar to the logic behind the pricing of apps.

  • An hour is fine for apps that have demo or trial versions available. For ones that don’t it should be at least 24 hours.

  • jmcmoto

    24 hours is the magic number. Here are just some of the many reasons I have found to delete apps off of my phone.

    – Too man FCs
    – Battery drain
    – Conflicts with other apps
    – Game is boring
    – Utility doesn’t provide enough to utilize
    – App is accessing resources in a greedy and wasteful way (ie GPS)
    – Live wallpaper is ugly, glitchy or slow
    – Etc.

    I do not like to pay for crap! I will be much more hesitant to get a paid app now because of this rule. Especially if it is a game, because there are a lot of really boring and unimaginative games that have flooded the Android market.

    If Google wants to encourage more development on the Android market, they need to find ways to get people to buy more paid apps, not less. Instead of copying Apple’s undesirable policies, why not copy something they do right like I-tunes gift cards. If they had Android Market gift cards available, all these people getting android phones for christmas presents might end up buying $10, $20, $30 worth of Apps right away on Santa Clause’s dime. Where is Google on that one?

  • Mysterious Developer

    No refunds would be perfection. But since Android is fragmented, 15 minutes is fine. Much better than 24 hours.

    If you need more than 15 mins to decide if you want a $2 app, I don’t want your business.

  • Hollie Lambert

    Well I think it is quite interesting that everyone has differences of opinions, but I have to ask if anyone has used the iPhone/iTunes app store yet? With iPhone many apps are impossible to use, cost 9.99-14.99 and are non-refundable; and if you think that is bad try blackberry or crackberry prices. Oh and yes I speak from experience owning the iPhone 3GS from release to 3 months ago, I then purchased the Blackberry Torch and all the apps similar to those of iPhone that I could find. Within a week I realized that the apps were outrageous and the blackberry had technical issues. I settled for Samsung on the Android market. My entire point is that yes it sucks to pay .99 for an app that blows but its the way of the app life. I, however, do believe that expensive apps (9.99 +, maybe even 5.99 +) should have longer remorse period because its a lot to pay when the app doesn’t work at all or not as advertised with trial version. BUT PEOPLE THERE ARE A LOT OF APPS THAT ARE FREE ON ANDROID MARKET THAT ARE PAID VERSIONS ON OTHER MARKETS. I DON’T THINK ANDROID USERS HAVE A LOT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT CONCERNING THE MARKETS. I like the slider scale/ developer determined time frame.

  • Nick

    Listen up idiots. One hour is more than enough time, but 15 minutes is a joke. I downloaded remoted access to my computer for $60 and by the time i followed the instructions and set it up to my home computer 45 minutes have passed, only for me to figure out how f***ing slow this app runs. I was better off putting that $60 on the Jets 2day, WOO HOO!

  • I can’t imagine determining that a piece of software runs properly in fifteen minutes unless its horrifically simplistic (and therefore probably not worth paying for at all).

    For apps that do timed events, or that handle circumstantial behaviour of the phone (like SetCPU for example), I want to try the app long enough to know that it triggers properly and doesn’t crash.

    I think even 72 hours is perfectly reasonable for some apps, but I’d propose something different altogether: let the app creator determine an appropriate refund period, with a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 72 hours or something.

    Then the app creator is on the hook for not using an appropriate time period instead of Google.

  • LIN

    I don’t think many people think about refunds or the 15 minute clock very often, and I didn’t, until the first app I paid for had problems downloading and installing. In my case it has been 2 weeks now and even though it shows “purchased”, it has never downloaded due to the infamous “authorizing purchase” problem. But…the reason I mention it here:

    The first time I tried it and it didn’t work I got a notice that said I had refunded the item…which I definitely had not…and checking my bank showed no activity, paid or refunded. Obviously there was a problem somewhere, but I had not refunded it. After a bit of confusion I went to download it again, but now was advised that because of the first refund I would not be able to refund it a second time…15 minutes or not. I still wanted it…but, on buying it now it won’t authorize!!!@#%
    So the moral of the story is that it’s been two weeks and I STILL cannot download the app (Superuser Elite) even though I paid for it. 15 minutes would have burned off before I found out it wouldn’t download at all.
    The point being that 15 minutes is in no way a fair amount of time; not when there are obvious problems with the Market that may blow 15 minutes before you’ve even had a fair chance to try out an app or game. 24 hours would give a user time to make contacts if there is a problem unrelated to the working of an app itself, and would give plenty of time to try it out (even though in many cases you’ll know if 10 minutes if it’s a keeper…) It would probably compel developers to make sure they’re building working and dependable apps that will stand testing long past 15 minutes.

  • Bob

    Let the application developer decide. Depending on the application they can then select an appropriate window. If they choose a window too small then it’ll hit their sales figures. I can understand games having shorter windows but some applications could really do with longer windows.