Hi, this is my first post here. I am an independent developer from Taiwan. Recently there was a big news in Taiwan about the refund policy on Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market.
The issue originated from an fraud app which claimed it could trace the phone's current location simply by entering the phone numbers. The customers who bought this app were irritated when they found it's a fake app. When they tried to request refund, they found Apple lacks a simple and clear refund mechanism.
About 2 weeks ago, Taipei City Government demanded Apple and Google to revise their Terms of Service to obey Taiwan's Consumer Protection Law, according to which, any digitally-downloaded software product, must be able to be refunded within 7 days with no condition.
While Apple promised to revise the terms and improve the refunding process, Google insisted that its '15-minutes-trial' policy was sufficient enough for customers. In the meantime, Google immediately removed all paid apps from Taiwan Android Market.
Taipei City Government warned that Google will be fined for NT$ 1 million if Google doesn't give a positive response in a limited time. Until now, there's no paid app existing in Taiwan Android Market. Needless to say, it made an enormous impact on Taiwan's Android developers. This event is now a hot topic of discussion over which pros and cons argue fiercely in websites.
On July 14th, Apple officially revised its Terms of Service on Taiwan App Store to compromise Taiwan's Consumer Protection Law as below:
YOU MAY CANCEL YOUR PURCHASE WITHIN SEVEN (7) DAYS FROM THE DATE OF DELIVERY AND ITUNES WILL REIMBURSE YOU FOR THE AMOUNT PAID, PROVIDED YOU INFORM ITUNES THAT YOU HAVE DELETED ALL COPIES OF THE PRODUCT. UPON CANCELLATION YOU WILL NO LONGER BE LICENSED TO USE THE PRODUCT. THIS RIGHT CANNOT BE WAIVED.
In short, any customer who doesn't like the app he bought on Taiwan App Store, he can refund it within 7 days unconditionally without stating any reason.
This is an exclusive term only applicable to Taiwan App Store. The officials of Taipei City Government claim that it is a victory for Taiwan's customers and also regard it as a ground-breaking and worldwide-leading movement.
Moreover, on July 15th, Google's legal representative Kenneth Carter stated that Google has already provided 3 methods for customers to refund:
- Refund the app within 15 minutes;
- Contact with the app developers by the record of Google Checkout;
- Contact with the Android Market Support.
In conclusion, Google regards '15-minutes-trial' as a reasonable policy and it won't be changed. Consequently, Google remains halting any paid app's release on Taiwan Android Market, until it can have a consensus with Taipei City Government.
Whereas many consumers admire what our government has achieved, a lot of app developers are moaning. As we known, there're some genre of apps that only have a short life cycle such as e-books, magazines, and entertainment apps. Games are no exception. As far as the current situation is concerned, I think the consequence may influence app developers in two ways:
- Developers have no choice but to transfer from up-front-paid to free-to-play business;
- Developers won't provide localization support in Chinese or even don't sell apps in Taiwan.
Although I agree that there must be a fine line to protect customers' right, shouldn't the government also take care of developers' right?
Besides, there are more incoming issues, such as: What about the in-app purchases? What about the virtual currencies and virtual goods? Should these kind of purchases have a trial period too?
Do you agree that it is a proper refund policy? 15 minutes or 7 days, which do you consider as a right trial period for apps? What do you think about the whole issue?
(News from The China Post)