Android Market refund time window, 15 minutes?

The Android Market is the number one source of apps for most Android users. Its great variety of applications, integration with Google Apps and simplicity makes it unbeatable by any other third-party Android app store, for now. There is always room for improvement, though, and while users are generally happy with the Android Market, there is one issue that most of us have been complaining about.

After Google switched the refund period from 24 hours to 15 minutes, customers believe that this time-frame gives no chance to really take a look at what the app has to offer. Most glitches/problems will not be noticed until way after the 15 minutes have passed by. Needless to say that certain apps (especially games) take that much time just to be installed (if not longer).

This morning, our friends from Droid-Life reported something that sparked a small fire in our hopeful hearts. It seems like people have been reporting longer refund periods, something that Google never announced. The guys from Droid-Life went ahead and decided to test this. It seems like they were able to get a refund up to 1.5 hours after the purchase. Just to make sure, we decided to make the test before reporting on this, and the results were not as awesome as we hoped they would be.

The Experiment

In an effort to find out what exactly was going on, we went ahead and purchased some apps. At 10:32 am, Zenonia ($ 0.99) and Shadowgun ($ 4.99) were purchased. The order receipts still confirmed that the refund window was only 15 minutes long. After installing the games, we were consistently checking the Android Market, to see if the “Refund” button was still present (about every 5-10 minutes). Shadowgun was left unopened, while Zenonia was opened and played with for a while (people were suspecting if this had soemthign to do with opening the app after the purchase).

We went from being doubtful to being excited, as the “Refund” button continued to be there after 15 minutes. We started getting suspicious after we realized that more than an hour had passed by, though, and that “Refund” button was still present. Just to see what would happen, we decided to just go ahead and try to refund one of the purchased games, and that is when something weird started to happen.

After tapping the “Refund” button in the Android Market, it would instantly turn into the infamous “Uninstall” button. After tapping what had transformed into an Uninstall button, the app simply got uninstalled. No order cancellation email was sent to our inbox, making us realize that the app wasn’t actually being refunded, but just uninstalled and ready for installing again later. The same process was applied to Shadowgun, with the same results as an outcome.

After that, we decided to purchase Cut the Rope ($ 0.99) and attempt get a refund before the 15-minute window. As expected the button did not turn into an “Uninstall” button, and simply uninstalled the app on its own, with an order cancellation hitting our inbox soon afterwards.

Conclusion

While the “Refund” button was showing up for over an hour, it disappears after trying to get a refund after the 15 minutes have passed by. We did not get our money back, but at least these games are good.

This seems to be an extraneous glitch, either in the system or the Android Market app itself. For now, we still have to suffer from the headaches of not having enough time to test out apps before handing over the cash. Just be sure not to go crazy buying apps, thinking that you have a longer time to return them, and let us know if you have experienced the same issue.

For now, we will have to keep complaining and hope that Google will make some changes soon. What are your views on this issue? Do you think 15 minutes is a fair amount of time to get a refund? What would be the ideal time-frame, which would benefit both the consumer and the developer?

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