Google sued over Play Store’s 15 minute return policy

March 16, 2012
24

When the Android Market changed its return policy from a generous 24 hours to a paltry 15 minutes way back in 2010, there was no shortage of complaints. But it appears that two users went a step beyond and actually sued Google for the policy, in addition to generally misleading claims about the quality and working order of apps. The suit comes from Dodd J. Harris and Stephen Sabatin of California, who were unsatisfied with a Mandarin instruction app and Bit Torrent client, respectively.

The pair aren't the only ones to be dissatisfied with the 15-minute grace period. Complex games in particular (which are often the most expensive) often require downloads of 100 megabytes or more, which are nearly impossible to download and install in the allotted time when using a 3G connection. Some developers have responded by marking their games WiFi-only in the Google Play Store (formerly the Android Market) but even then a less than optimal connection can create the same problem.

Google has a hard time balancing the needs of app developers and users. For example, most Android games can be played and completed in far less than a day, making the full 24-hour period something of an honor system. Google claims that changed the policy because "most users return an app within 15 minutes". Recent changes to the Play Store have allowed developers to host apps up to 4GB, which should at least ease the burden on servers, bu that doesn't really solve the time problem.

Harris and Sabatin are seeking class-action damages as well as attorney's fees. Google has yet to comment on the suit.

[via PCMag]


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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Micah-Madru/100001151887665 Micah Madru

    There’s an easy fix. 15min minimum refund period and then a set amounts of refunds that go up from there that developers can choose for individual apps.

  • firethorn

    Honestly, they should have set the grace period to 1 hour. It’s sufficient time to d/l and install and if you still don’t know whether to keep or return an app purchase after an hour, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Giorgis e3 Sydney

    How about each developer decides their refund period. It could be part of the motive to choose an app

  • http://digg.com/users/OmegaWolf Silver Fang

    I thought I read that Google upped the return window to two hours.

    • kpl

      Nope, 15 minutes. At least that’s what it said for me.

  • Diordna

    15 minutes is a joke and my app purchases dropped by about 75% when this policy hit. I agree 24 hours is too long however, 2 hours should be the minimum.

  • Homoki Roland

    Stupid americans with their sues.
    What about unethical people, who download a game or app, play for 23 hours, and than claim the money back? I think 15 minutes is fine.

    • Diordna

      Is that Roland or Poland? Never mind, it’s obvious.

    • IRIE4IPIEIR

      I agree, I am embarrased to call myself an American sometimes too.

  • http://twitter.com/CoffeeGeek Mark

    The 15minute time is useless; most apps I do buy take a lot longer than 15 minutes to give any kind of evaluation; plus since you can buy and deliver apps from your desktop to your Android device, it could be an hour or two before you actually go to test it out. 

    The best policy would be a 2 hour minimum, and it only gets enabled after the first time you launch the app. This way, you don’t have to stop everything and check an app before finding out if it runs or not.

    Another scenario: during the sales a few months ago, I bought a bunch of Gameloft games for my planned purchase (it was pre-ordered) of a Transformer Prime. I got the Transformer Prime a few weeks later, and guess what – none of the Gameloft games I bought were compatible with the Prime and ICS. Money lost. 

  • IRIE4IPIEIR

    Instead of complaining about it, be happy that there is a return policy at all, because Apple sure don’t offer one, I hope Google just removes the return policy all together since rotten people like this will come out from under their rock and pull shit like this. Annoying.

    • https://me.yahoo.com/a/rMvIAJA3w_TLaLoMIzpmCWhlFBKvS15UMQ--#a7c53 tsais

      Apple is just lucky – too many fanboi sheep – all too twinkly eyed over their shiny baubles to think of suing the crap out of that crappy company.

    • Bill

      “Instead of complaining about being imprisoned without trial, you should be happy we aren’t burning you to death in concentration camps. At least we’re not as bad as Nazi Germany, geez.”

  • Scott Smith

    This boils my blood.  These two idiots are trying to  push a Class action suit over this when in all likelihood, the two of them probably have not purchased $50 worth of apps in the first place.  It’s just another way lazy people think they can get rich by suing someone more successful.  I hope the judge does the right thing and fines these two and makes them pay Google’s lawyer fees for wasting everyone’s time.

    • https://me.yahoo.com/a/rMvIAJA3w_TLaLoMIzpmCWhlFBKvS15UMQ--#a7c53 tsais

      awww poor baby!  don’t have an aneurism, please?  we’d all miss you…

      Its not like its guaranteed that anybody will get rich of the lawsuit, (well, except the lawyers) with any luck, it might just turn out that a 15 minute return period for remote (mail-order like) sales doesn’t conform to existing law.  We won’t know until someone sues, large corporations just do as they please.

    • the man who fucked your mom

      you are the idiot. you google motherfuckkerrrrr!!

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/rMvIAJA3w_TLaLoMIzpmCWhlFBKvS15UMQ--#a7c53 tsais

    Truth is, 15 minutes return policy is not enough to test most apps, even single purpose ones like audio players will often show unexpected bugs only after you took the time of importing a full audio library with cover art etc, then you find out cover art isn’t showing up and such things.

    Or custom SMS apps that link into your address book, that seem to work fine, but later block a normal function of your address book, like creating a new contact from a number you received a call from. Since you don’t do that every day or maybe not even for a week, its impossible to find out that this app basically breaks your phone functionality to the point you have to uninstall it.

    Even figuring out which app is the culprit can take a couple of days.

    So, I think 24 hours was pretty fair for applications.
    Could make return periods shorter for games that might be finished in just a few hours.

    But overall, its good someone is suing over it, cause this isn’t cool. And if Apple has no return policy at all, they should be forced to have one, just like any mail order business selling things remotely that can’t be inspected before purchase.

  • Smith

    A game which can be completed within 24 hours is not worth paying for

  • DebbieDoesDallas

    Stupid Google, 15 minutes is NOT enough to even test out a game. Shorter games plays can actually be shorter for the refund policy. But 15 minutes. GOOD JOB You both for suing! Google can’t be anymore STUPID If they don’t change it back to the other policy!

  • BrokeDadBecauseofKids

    Obviously none of you have kids.

  • Astandet

    Use your credit card, not debit, for purchases – then u can easily claim money back from your bank if your product doesn’t work

  • kpl

    This is what happens when big corporations make rules. They fly in the face of common sense. 15 minutes seems totally insane, nowhere near enough. An hour or two minimum, depending on the complexity of the app. Sometimes it takes a good half hour just to learn an app’s ins and outs well enough to know whether or not the claims made by the developer were exaggerated to the point where the app isn’t sufficiently useful to warrant a purchase. Of course, the clock shouldn’t start ticking until the app is either first launched or a maximum delay after download (e.g., 20 minutes) has expired.

  • DogLipps

    A 2-hour return policy should allow enough time for evaluation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1493666214 facebook-1493666214

    Wow. 15 minutes really? Really? I purchased NOVA 3 for my son. It took about one hour to download the 1.66 GB. We were getting ready to leave for a road trip, so I ended-up babysitting the tablet to keep it from going to sleep. (The download stops during sleep.) While waiting I ready though hundreds of reviews. They pretty much appear in a random order, but I notice several within the last few days that said since the latest updates it crashes at the end of the tutorial and then won’t run on an Asus Transformer Pad. So at that point I didn’t dare leave the tablet alone, and risk losing even a minute of the test time. Sure enough. Once downloaded and installed, you press open. It then spends several minutes “installing”, so I guess the first install just partial. It then spends several more minutes “loading”. Then you have several minutes of intro video. Then it took me several minutes to play through the tutorial to the point where it crashes. Right on queue actually. After that it takes even more time to get the tablet to respond again so you can navigate back to the Google Play store. I’m fairly certain I was past the time window for refund, but the page hadn’t refreshed so I made it in time to press refund…

    Talk about a con. It is like the deliberately design the game to waste time so you have no time to see if really runs. Normally I would have spent another 5 or 10 minutes trying to tweak settings to get it to run. But while I it was downloading I googled and found out how little time I had to make a decision.

    To make matters worse, once you hit the “refund” button you cannot submit a review. So the only way it is possible to warn others is if you are one of the unfortunates who does not make the time window and gets stuck with the bill.