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Android 15 Minute Rule Sucks; Interwebs Bewildered by Android’s new 15 Minute Refund Window

Eric Chu, announced via the Android Developer’s blog yesterday evening that a great, and long anticipated change to the Android app market was on the way.  There are a lot of great features headed to all Android phones running version 1.6 or higher.  One thing stuck out like a sore thumb though…

Google has decided that they are limiting the refund time on an app market purchase to 15 minutes.  The original refund period was 24 hours however Google found that most apps refunded were done so in the first 15 minutes after purchase/download.

From Facebook status updates, tweets, heck we’ve even seen a few Google Buzz messages about it but a bulk of the Android users are crying foul over this crazy new rule. There are many reasons to disagree with the 15 minute rule here are some of ours:

– We tend to download apps in bulk, maybe I’ve jotted a few titles down in my springpad or have been asked to review a few apps so we do. In other cases when we do app battles we are downloading 3 or 4 apps at a time with 15 minutes we barely have the chance to install and get a feel for the app before having to make the refund decision.

– Keyboard apps, you can’t possibly think a keyboard app can be evaluated in 15 minutes or less.

– Photo apps, I like to test photo apps in real life settings, be it at a street corner, or evening activity, I don’t like to be burdened with trying a photo app in the office or hotel and take a picture of the furniture just to see if I like it.  People may actually make the photo apps function to me seem better than say a lamp.

– Launchers and themes, I love ADW and change my themes all the time, but sometimes I’ve put one on and decided I didnt like it a few hours later, it may be cool immediately but really can you evaluate a launcher theme in 15 minutes?

– Puzzle games, I’ve downloaded paid puzzle games before and played for like 30 minutes and said no this isnt for me, but really 15 minutes on a puzzle game or actually any game for that manner can you really decide in 15 minutes if you like ANY game

– How about this, just downloaded an app on a Verizon phone and then grandma calls and talks to you for 20 minutes, whoops there goes your refund period.

Tell us below why you think the new 15 minute rule, well Sucks!

36 Comments

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  1. It’s not enough time to evaluate any app. Google is doing a very good job but believe me this 15mins rule might be their down fall

  2. This is stupid. Be grateful you even get 15 minutes. 99% of Software sellers, including physical retailers offer 0 return policy on open software. Apple, Android big competitor also offers 0 return policy.

  3. It hurts developers if users can try their barely tested product?
    I don’t think so.
    If I know I have enough time to try I will try.
    If I know I only have 15 minutes I will not bother trying most of the time.
    THAT will hurt developers because they lose a potential customer.
    Here is an idea – let developer decide on the timeout for his specific product.
    If the price is under $5 and it is something that one needs to use once in a blue moon for only a few minutes, make it 0 minutes.
    If it’s say a GPS navigation that you need to download maps for after it got installed, make it a few days.

  4. Too many reasons to list, but what i am wondering is what the hell is the reason for it or advantage it brings?
    What’s good about it?
    Why did Google make make it.
    Suppose MOST refunds are done in 15 minutes like they say, but is this a good enough reason to limit it?
    1. Most is not all!
    2. I will not even try a paid apps if I know I only have 15 minutes. More than half of the apps I tried so far simply do not work on my phone so chances are I will lose money and get nothing in return.

  5. To all you people who keep saying “quit whining”.. shut up. case in point why 15 minutes is ridiculous: I bought the “Better Keyboard” app today, because in one of the pictures I saw a skin for it that I fell in love with. I paid $3.50 for this (this was my first time buying an app by the way). As soon as it unlocked the app for me I used the search built in to the app to look for the skin, and low and behold, it was nowhere to be found. I guess the dev took it down or something. I spent a while looking through all the skins to find the one I was looking for, and then looked online to see if I could find anything out about it. By the time I decided to give up and get a refund, I had already passed my 15 minutes. I was pretty upset, and emailed the dev. Before I bought it, I had looked up how long I had to return it, and everywhere I looked said 24 hours.. I’m not trying to scam anybody, I just want a fair chance to test something before I commit. Is 24 hours too excessive? Perhaps, but I think anywhere from 1-5 hours is fair.

  6. Seriously? What is wrong with you people? This is the just about the ONLY place you can go to even get a refund on software, and you’re not happy. It just goes to show that people will never be happy. If you don’t like it, don’t buy anything without a try-before-you-buy option, or don’t buy anything at all.

  7. Late to the table, but I have something to add.
    One other problem with the 15 minute rule, is that downloads are not immediate. At the moment I’ve just bought an app and it’s been “authorizing payment” for the last five minutes. So now I’m forced to wait until the download starts, because my 15 minutes start as soon as the download is complete. It could take 10 more minutes and all I can do is watch my phone, to see if it’s downloading. In the mean time I’ve already received the e-mail confirming my purchase.

    Best option in my view: let the developer decide the refund period. They can use it as a marketing tool. Second: let the refund period start when I open the app for the first time (or fix the market!!)

  8. I’ll tell you why the new 15 minute refund policy sucks. My kid plays a game, clicks on an app, winds up in the market and purchasing some useless crap. Before, I could just check for this after getting the phone back. Now I get the phone back 20 minutes later and I’m stuck. My workaround: quit using google checkout and remove all credit cards from it. I imagine I’ll quit buying apps too, because having to enter the info each time will be a real pain. Great job, Google.

  9. For the same reason experienced sellers like Target, Walmart, Costco etc. do so.

    Some times it takes a while to realize the value in something. With software, given that you don’t have to re-stock (or whatever) a used item, it is even easier to let people keep what they like, and return what they don’t.

  10. What possible motivation does a dev have for setting a long refund window?

    There should be a set policy for a refund window for apps, otherwise you fracture the policy and make it more difficult to understand for Android users. Personally, I think that 15 minutes is far from adequate.

  11. Different applications need different return policies.

    So let the dev decide. From no refund at all, to 90 days or whatever.

  12. Yes, it’s an abusive policy by Google, mostly because the majority of Apps are priced over US$200!!!! Absurd…

  13. There is a fundamental flaw in your assumption. You cannot keep buying an app every once in a while. You can refund an app only the first time you buy it. If you buy it a second time, then you cannot refund it.

  14. There is no problem with it being 15 minutes only. It lies on the consumer to do their research on an app before buying just like everything else in the world. There are many ways to do this… you are using a google operated phone… google it… and most of the times there are free version where you can use most of the functionalities of the app.

    Just be more careful with your purchases. We were spoiled with a 24 hour return policy, stop whining.

  15. Apple App Store software is screened and passes an approval process before it is released. Different model, different rules.

  16. I understand the importance of protecting hard working devs from being ‘gamed’. But to go from 24 hours to 15 minutes is a drastic shift, and is barely a sort of undo button. The problem with the Market toda is unscrupulous ‘devs’ (Using the term loosely in this instance) who create mis,leading scam-named apps/junk.

  17. As a developer nothing pissed me off more than logging into my account and seeing a return. I spent a good chunk of money developing this app (mynature animal tracks) for the droid and to have a lot of people pick it up, copy it (in other words steal it) and then get a refund just annoyed the hell out of me. For this reason alone I never converted my other iPhone apps over to the droid. My app on tree identification (mynature tree guide) was in the top 25 grossing apps for over 2 months in the app store, I could have masde more money selling on the droid but I wasn’t going to give anyone on the droid the satisfaction of stealing it. This is a great change and may just convince me to convert my other field guides over to the droid.

  18. I am not a big fan of the new Android Markets 15 min rule. I don’t think that will give users enough time to review an app.

  19. I’d bet money that the real reason the rule changed to 15 minutes is because too many users were abusing it. 24 hours is a long time. Lots of apps could be treated as “perpetual trial” in this case. Need an app once in a while? “buy it” when you need it, then return it. Need it again in a month? “buy it” again, or “buy” something similar, then return it.

    Given that most people want to either game the system, pirate, circumvent pay walls, pretty much anything to not pay even $1 for something, I can see how the “24 hour return” rule was starting to hurt devs.

    Without developer interest, you can watch the platform go bye bye. It has happened in the past and is something Google needs to be mindful of.

    Anyone who is *honest* in wanting to buy software that they really like can find a way to live with a 15 minute return window. A return of any kind is unprecedented in software anyhow. Consider the list above… “bulk buy”? well just dont do that. “need to review apps” Well if you need to review apps for a blog, you’re a commercial entity – either ask the devs for review access somehow, or actually invest a few dollars out of your profit. “downloaded app but got interrupted” Well… if you have 15 minutes to make this monumental $1 decision, then dont take the phone call… Or accept that… YIKES! you may be out a dollar.

    Seems like the usual exaggerated geek angst. If Google had said 15 minute return window right out of the gate people would have been THRILLED since *no return at all* is the normal policy with software. The only problem here for them is that they started with one policy and changed it, but it was almost certainly due to policy abuse.

  20. What’s a dollar anyway? Many free apps have a demo, so many people know what they’re getting. Developers really need to think about their market strategy and roll with all of these changes. Also, look at the download stats for pay apps – it’s not pretty. People are making more out of this than they need to, because they don’t understand the overall numbers. In other words, GET REAL. lol

  21. 15 minutes is reeeeally a bad idea. It can take that long to read the instructions.

    You can’t return PC software because otherwise you could load it on your PC and return it (steal it).

    This isn’t the case with Android software. Making people frantic for no reason shows that Google does not have experience in selling software.

  22. 15 minutes is reeeeally a bad idea. It can take that long to read the instructions.

    You can’t return PC software because otherwise you could load it on your PC and return it (steal it).

    This isn’t the case with Android software. Making people frantic for no reason shows that Google does not have experience in selling software.

  23. Well, you can’t say don’t fix something that’s not broken, but from a Dev’s point of view, the refund policy was broken. Many Android games can be completed w/in 24 hours or one might only need an app for a day activity, so the dev’s were losing money left and right w/ returns. I can agree w/ the idea of making the return period longer, we want to keep devs happy and we want Android to be an inviting place to for devs to go. That being said, 15 min is far too short for all the reasons you stated above. It needs to be at least an hour or two. What I’m hoping is that this convinces more devs to make demo or ad-supported versions of their apps. Trying before you buy was one of the things that made Android great. We don’t want to scare off users in order to attract devs, Android has grown to a point that this balance is more important than ever, hopefully we can find the right footing soon.

  24. i agree that often download multiple apps in one go but that normally only applies to free apps, if I’m paying for an app I must really want it so normally test it out straight away. 15minutes ia bit short. should maybe be 30minutes but no longer.

  25. We have spoken to many developers about this very issue. I was shocked that Google changed from 24 hours to 15 mins. We believes that the 1st hour experience is all a developer has to engage the user, and prove the app’s worthiness.

    Our policy will be 1 hour!

    Please feel free to email me at [email protected] if you have any questions or comments. Thank you.

  26. We have spoken to many developers about this very issue. I was shocked that Google changed from 24 hours to 15 mins. We believes that the 1st hour experience is all a developer has to engage the user, and prove the app’s worthiness.

    Our policy will be 1 hour!

    Please feel free to email me at [email protected] if you have any questions or comments. Thank you.

  27. The examples given for why 15 minutes is way too short are good and they’re reasons I’ve given as well, but there’s a key one that I think is important. It kind of goes off of the photo example.

    A lot of the most expensive paid apps have to do with functionality that is complex and will most likely be used in situations other than the situation you’re in when you download the app. For example, an app like Tasker or Ultimate Juice has options that will not be able to be tested in just 15 minutes (hello…battery life?) or even in one specific location or time (network, GPS, and SMS controls). With only 15 minutes to test, there is zero chance that you can put yourself in the position to test the app at all, resulting in either an immediate return (which might’ve turned into a sale) or an extremely disgruntled customer. Just my 2 cents.

  28. The examples given for why 15 minutes is way too short are good and they’re reasons I’ve given as well, but there’s a key one that I think is important. It kind of goes off of the photo example.

    A lot of the most expensive paid apps have to do with functionality that is complex and will most likely be used in situations other than the situation you’re in when you download the app. For example, an app like Tasker or Ultimate Juice has options that will not be able to be tested in just 15 minutes (hello…battery life?) or even in one specific location or time (network, GPS, and SMS controls). With only 15 minutes to test, there is zero chance that you can put yourself in the position to test the app at all, resulting in either an immediate return (which might’ve turned into a sale) or an extremely disgruntled customer. Just my 2 cents.

  29. I think Google really wanted to remove refunds completely. Many devs say that they like iOS appstore more because there is no refund option and so it promoted compulsive buying. Once bought, no one can refund.
    But if google removed it completely, there would have been a much much larger backlash and to avoid that, they made it 15 minutes, which is as good as not being there at all.

  30. On one side, if you buy some software for your PC, you cant then take it back if you dont like it. But equally, alot more info is available about pc software/games.

    24 Hours is a perfectly adequate time to evaluate an App, and google changing to 15 mins could result in demands of refunds direct from the developer if an app is faulty, no as described or not functioning.

    Why fix something that isnt broken.

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