How to Get a Refund for a Useless Android App?

February 4, 2014

Cellphone Stuff, Software

In the real world, when you buy something, and come to find that the product is faulty or does not perform as advertised, you are given the possibility of returning it in a set time frame, after which you will get a full refund, or a replacement. Even though the manufacturer is losing money by doing this, in the long run, it is a much more favorable way to go, because they will end up losing a larger amount or potential customers because of bad publicity.

When you purchase software, let’s say an Android app, you would expect more of the same: in case the app is faulty, or performs contrary to what is advertised, you return it and get your money back. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The time frame for returning the faulty Android application bought through the Google Play Store is 15 minutes, according to Google’s official policy.

Start the Countdown…

Most Android apps are pretty much straight-forward, but 15 minutes is still not enough time for the user to get aplay store apps good idea of how the app will perform. The return period was shortened to 15 minutes in December 2010, even though it used to be 24 hours. According to Google, that’s more than enough time for users to gauge whether the app is faulty or not. By doing this, they were also able to prevent games from being returned to the store after being played for free for 24 hours. The process of refunding is fairly simple: you go into the Play Store and find the app you are not satisfied with, and choose the “Refund” option and you will get the amount paid for the app. After the 15-minute window, there is no more “Refund” option. The only thing you can do is to uninstall the app in case you are not happy with it.

Just consider the situation where you have downloaded the app, and all of a sudden you need to answer a call which turns out to be urgent, or you happen to be in an area with bad reception. This is not just the case of “what if”, because two LA residents decided to take Google to Californian court in 2012, specifically because of that, although that case hasn’t been concluded as of yet.

Demanding a Refund from the Developer

According to Google, in case you fail to ask for a refund after 15 minutes, the next step you need to take is to establish a contact with the developer, using their contact information provided in the Play Store, or directly through their website. However, this does not guarantee you will be successful, as many developers don’t give refunds, or their policy is written in such a way that makes it hard for you to prove the product is faulty. Unfortunately, some developers employ false advertising, deliberately offering apps that they know are faulty, so taking precautionary measures and reading the reviews is something that is necessary.

Demanding a Refund from Google

Keep in mind that Google doesn’t issue refunds very often. But, looking into section 3.4 of Google’s Developer Distribution Agreement, you will see that Google is able to give refunds for those products which cannot be preview within a window of 48 hours, such as apps. Refunds are not possible for items such as ringtones or wallpapers.You need to log into your Google Play account and choose “My Orders”, find the faulty app and hover the cursor until you are provided with “Report a problem” option. Clicking this will guide to a window where you will choose “I’d like to request a refund” from the drop-down menu. After filling in the text box, clearly stating your reasons for a refund, just click “Submit”.

The Third Option

After the first two options fail, you are left with the possibility of contacting your credit card company and proving there has been a breach of contract. Just to be on the safe side, try to capture screenshots of the faulty app as evidence. With most companies, you have 120 days to file a complaint. After receiving the complaint, your credit card company will notify Google. If the refund amount is less than $10, the developer will be momentarily charged through their Google Wallet account. In case of larger amounts, the developer is notified by Google, which usually leads to communication between you and the developer. In case there has been a clear breach of contract, they will issue a refund.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to prevent getting into a situation like this by avoiding developers with bad reputation and apps with negative reviews. But, in case you make that mistake, you are now familiar with all the necessary steps you need to take to receive a refund.

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