December 21, 2014

Taiwan Slaps Google With $1 Million NT Fine

It would seem that Taiwan, like most Android users, disagrees heavily with Google’s 15-minute app refund policy. In fact, they have deemed it unlawful and have slapped Google with a hefty fine (US$345,500) for not complying with a June 4th request to revise their app sales and service provisions. You see, according to Taiwan’s Consumer Protection Act, all items purchased via the Web must include a free-trial period of at least seven days because consumers cannot feel or touch the goods before purchase.

Google ultimately responded in “take my ball home” fashion by removing the paid apps section from the Market for Taiwanese users. Taipei City Government says this move was an attempt to “coerce Taiwanese consumers into giving up their rights.” As of now, neither party has reversed their stance in the matter, and although Google is sending over “officials” to “continue talks,” Taipei city authorities have stated a second penalty could ensue, should Google’s stance remain unsatisfactory. Interestingly enough, Apple was given the same set of conditions but unlike Google, they complied (say what?!).

While I definitely share Taiwan’s disgust over Google’s 15-minute refund window, I also think seven days is a bit much when it comes to mobile applications. Seven days would allow most users enough time to play, beat and return just about any game they download, which doesn’t help developers trying to earn a living. Hopefully they can work out some sort of compromise that can protect both Taiwanese consumers along with the developers of paid applications. Otherwise, this is just another setback for Android and its users when it comes to a global marketplace.

So what are your thoughts? Do you agree with Taiwan’s hate for the 15-minute app refund window, or are you more in touch with Google’s attempt to help developers make money? Sound off in the comments, or on our Facebook Wall!

Source: Taipei Times



  • http://twitter.com/ryocoon Kurtis Whittington

    I think a 1 hour default, and the ability to customize it per developer or application is really what is neccessary to really fix it. 15 minutes is _VERY_ limited, and often some people can’t get the apps to properly download in that time period.

  • http://twitter.com/toxigenicpoem Derek Anderson

    Should have left the 24 hour period, and this would have never happened.

  • Steve

    Good for Google!  Standing up for the rights of fair exchange by standing up to an oppressive and c coercive government.

    • c00ller

      What? Did you understand the article at all?
      Google is the oppressive one here, refusing to allow more than a 15-minute return widow while the Taiwanese government is pushing for consumer rights.

      • Steve

        I’m curious what you think I didn’t understand.  You say that google is oppresive… In what sense?  Also you seem to think that consumers have the RIGHT to a one-week online return policy.  What gives consumers that right? 

        You have the freedom to choose to buy from their marketplace or not as you choose.  Maybe you would never purchase from their app store given their return policy or you would buy regardless of their policy.  Or you would purchase some apps from them and choose not to purchase others.  You might choose another app market all together (Amazon, getJar, Samsung).  But currently you have the option to use google’s market under terms and conditions that you have mutually agreed to.

        The government of Taiwan is saying that consumers DO NOT have the right to purchase from google or anyone unless they abide a particular return policy.  You, the consumer, ARE NOT FREE to agree to a return policy agreed to by the producer. 

        As others have noted, the return policy set by google is good for certain types of apps and bad for others.  You might choose not to purchase apps that the return policy doesn’t make sense, such as office productivity apps, but agree to purchase the Task Killer as you could download that and try it out in very little time.  The point is that you are currently free to make that choice.  The government of Taiwan does not want the consumer to have that right. 

        Google’s policy is not perfect.  It is aggravating for many types of apps.  But if people weren’t willing to purchase apps then google would have to change their policy or suffer the consequences (lost income and the possibility of their competitors gobbling up all their market share).  The return policy set by the Taiwanese government is not open to change based on the desires and needs of consumers and producers.  As noted by others, many products are no longer sold online in Taiwan because their return policy just doesn’t make sense.  But the policy doesn’t EVER need to change regardless of how good or bad it is to consumers and producers.  It is not reactive to market pressures in the same way google’s policies are. 

  • Anonymous

    For Games maybe, but not for thing like productivity apps or even UI enhancements.  I have not bought many apps because i felt 15 minutes was not enough time to really try it out.

  • Anonymous

    For Games maybe, but not for thing like productivity apps or even UI enhancements.  I have not bought many apps because i felt 15 minutes was not enough time to really try it out.

  • Anonymous

    For Games maybe, but not for thing like productivity apps or even UI enhancements.  I have not bought many apps because i felt 15 minutes was not enough time to really try it out.

  • http://pilot51.com Pilot_51

    I haven’t bought any apps yet since I’m a bit broke and the free offerings are mostly satisfactory, but as a developer I don’t like the 15 minute refund window.

    My best apps take more than a few minutes to try out, one of them requires night time and some waiting to get the full experience (satellite passes), so 24 hours was perfect.

    I think an hour or two is a good medium for most apps and even games. 15 minutes seems like barely enough time to get an app installed and look at a few screens before you start worrying about the refund window closing; in the end there is probably 10 minutes actual usage time, give or take a couple. Also most non-game apps don’t have an end and are often used daily, so allowing more time to get attached to an app would be beneficial, where a 7 day or even 30 day refund window might make some sense. It’s rather obvious that Google needs to allow developers to decide the refund window.

  • Taiwan

    There is a tool allowing the Taiwan android user to buy the paid apps again :D
    https://market.android.com/details?id=com.androidvpn

    • Steve

      What the Government bans from the legal market the black Market will provide.

      • Taiwan

        ha.It just  uses the VPN with American’s IP, and then the Taiwan user can also buy the android apps in Taiwan…..