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The usual practice the world over is that when you purchase an item and later find out that it is faulty, you return it and get a refund or replacement. Most companies are more than willing to return faulty merchandise just to avoid bad publicity. One would expect the same to be true for digital goods such as Android apps but sadly, this isn’t so. Google’s official policy only allows Android app refunds within 15 minutes of making a purchase.
This article shows you how to get a refund for an Android App that doesn’t work as advertised in the Google Play Store.
The First 15 Minutes
If you purchase an Android app and realize that it doesn’t work, you can seek a refund within the first 15 minutes. This information is clearly visible after you make a purchase on your phone or via the Play Website. This period used to be 24 hours but Google changed it in December 2010 claiming that 15 minutes was sufficient time for users to determine whether they liked an application or not. The folks at Google were also trying to avoid a situation where games are refunded after being played for 24 hours.
To claim a refund before 15 minutes are over, locate the app in the Play Store on your phone and tap on “Refund”. The app will then be removed from your phone, and you’ll be reimbursed. After 15 minutes are over, the only option available is “Uninstall”.
There are obvious problems with this Google policy. First of all, you may be busy doing something else once the download completes such as answering an urgent phone call. You may also happen to be in a bad network area or your mobile provider suddenly throttles your data just when you are about to test a bandwidth intensive game. This is a serious matter that saw Google hauled to court in California by two LA residents in 2012. The law firm involved, Berns Weiss, was seeking class action status though the fate of the case by the time of going to print is still unclear.
Get a Refund from the Developer
Google recommends that buyers contact developers directly once the 15 minute window passes. Success will depend on several factors, mainly the developer’s refund policy and your reason for seeking a refund. Many developers do not allow refunds for digital products. If you can prove that the app is faulty or does not work as advertised, some developers may issue a refund. It’s also possible some developers knowingly employ chicanery to get buyers to purchase faulty apps, so watch Google Play reviews carefully before making a purchase.
To seek a refund from a developer, you first need their contact information. This is available on the Play Store as shown in the example below. You can choose to email the developer directly or visit their website to read their terms of service and learn more about their refund policy.
Get a Refund from Google
There are rare circumstances when Google may issue a refund. You will have to jump over several customer service hoops; it’s a long shot but it is possible. For example, section 3.4 of Google’s Developer Distribution Agreement authorizes Google to issue a refund to buyers of products that cannot be previewed within 48 hours.
To initiate a refund from Google, log into your Google Play account and click on “My Orders” as shown below.
You should see a full list of all your applications.
Locate the application and hover the cursor above the three dots as shown below. Click on “Report a problem”.
In the next window, select “I’d like to request a refund” from the drop down menu as shown below. In the text field, explain clearly your reasons for seeking a refund and then click “Submit”.
When all else fails …Chargeback!
If after a week or so you haven’t heard back from Google or the developer, you will have to resort to drastic measures to get your money back. Contact your bank or credit card company and ask them to recover your money. All you legally need to show is that there was a breach of contract. Selling faulty applications, or applications that do not perform as advertised, is a clear breach of contract. You should capture screenshots to keep a record of the developer’s advertisement as evidence. Document your complaint including all attempts to resolve the issue and send it to your card issuer. With most major card brands, you have up to 120 days to dispute a transaction.
Once your credit issuer receives your complaint they will contact the appropriate credit card association which then notifies Google of the complaint. If the chargeback is less than $10, the developer is immediately debited via their Google Wallet account. If the amount is more than $10, Google notifies the developer via email and requests any information that the developer may have to contest the chargeback. This may include correspondence between yourself and the developer. Google reviews the details and decides whether to contest the chargeback. If your case is one of clear breach of contract and your complaint is well documented, they are unlikely to contest and your money should be refunded within a couple of days.
The Take Away
Clearly, getting a refund for an Android app that doesn’t work can be a real headache. It is best to steer clear of apps that are not popular in the Play Store. Also, make sure you read the reviews carefully before you purchase any app; it could save you a lot of trouble. You can check out our list of the The Best Android Apps, which you can’t really go wrong with.
Have you ever bought an Android app and later found out it didn’t work as advertised? What did you do about it? Let us know in the comments.