Google and Taiwanese government at odds over Android Market refund window

Google has suspended paid applications for users in Taiwan, as a result of a NT$1 million (US$345,500) fine for failing to offer Taiwanese consumers a seven-day free-trial.  While Google sticks to their strict 15 minute return window, the laws of Taiwan state that all goods purchased over the Internet come with a free trial period of at least seven days because consumers cannot feel or touch the goods before purchase.  Until recently, appstores were not specifically included under this law, because application purchasing in Taiwan is a very recent trend.  On June 4, the Taiwanese government gave both Google and Apple 15 days to comply with this law.  Apple complied, Google didn't.

But in the end, this will only be a temporary set-back, as Google is sending company officials to Taipei on Thursday to continue talks over the matter -- a move that may likely cost Google even more penalties.  Governments and giant corporations have money to burn, but most consumers do not -- so let's hope a working solution can be found soon.

Source: Taipei Times via: Android Police

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Dear Government of Taiwan:
    Please stick to your guns.
    Thanks. Personally, 7 days is too much, but 7 hours would be just fine.
  • 1 hour is appropriate, 15 minutes with a complex application amounts to fraud.
  • Agreed. Even an hour would give most folks time to experiment with most apps and decide if they really wanted/needed it or not. 24 hours was VERY (overly) generous, but 15 minutes is too short. It has, on many occasion, prevented me from making a purchase spontaneously (which is what micro-transactions are all about) in favor of getting online to see if anyone else likes the app. Which has ultimately lost them money.
  • I really can't see why would they change previous timeframe of 24 hours. You CAN (and I'm not saying that you should, because you should NOT) copy an APK downloaded from market within 15 minutes easily, so that's not the case. Why, then?
  • You can do within about 3 mins with the right application.
  • Even 1 hour would be better than the lousy 15 mins you get. I have only purchased a single app since this rule has been made.
  • The devs should be the ones who decide the length of the trial. That way, game devs can keep it short, most basic apps can go back to 24 hours, and Taiwan can mandate that all Taiwanese devs give out week-long trials.
  • Agreed, hope Taiwan goes Samurai Vengeance on Google's officials.
  • What is people's problems. If you need to get a refund for your app and its more then 15 mins old?. Then send the company that made the app an email and explain why you want a refund. Most likely is that they will give you even if its older then 15 mins.
  • And exactly how many times have you done this? I find it HIGHLY unlikely because once that 15 minutes is past, Google thinks you bought it and you will be entitled to keep it on your phone and update it. The company has no control over that, so they have no way of knowing if you uninstalled (or reinstalled) the app after they have given you your refund.
  • Yes, that's right, all companies will always do the right thing if asked. I've honestly only ever asked for a refund on one app because it didn't do what it said it would do. But with this rule in place, companies don't HAVE to refund you anything, and I would wager most won't.
  • Impressive - there are Governments out there that have the welfare of its citizens as a priority. I'm impressed...and disappointed at same time - weird feeling. Who's watching out for the US citizen?
  • Metta World Peace is watching out for us haha
  • Googled "Metta World Peace" and Ron Artest - NBA player with LA Lakers came up - now I'm downright depressed...LOL
  • Thats hilarious. I knew that without Google-ing it. Now I'm depressed that I knew that.
  • Would be nice if we could get that same 7 Day Return window love in the US (and most other parts of the world)... Although, it might be too long for some apps like games. Games should be 15 minutes to an hour, and APPS should be AT LEAST AN HOUR!
  • I agree with normal apps being given an hour to 2 timeframe and games at 15 minutes.
    for me it takes a good amount of time to decide whether a normal app is worth paying for or not, but in the case of games, if you give too long a window, then people can easily play it, beat it, and return it.
  • What about people who have horrible data coverage. What if it takes you 20mins to download an app? That's what happened to me. I wanted to download SPB Shell 3D - $15 - 10MB, took me 20 minutes to download just to find out that what people were bragging about... wasn't all that. Now take games which are 15MB, 20MB, 50MB... That would take forever, but as soon as you buy it, its yours and after 15 minutes, you can't get your refund if you don't like it. Sucks... They should stretch out a little longer.
  • The 15 minutes is timed from when the download completes.
  • NEVER thought I'd say this, but I'm siding with Taiwan...15 minutes is a fucking joke. a bad joke.
  • I don't really understand why Google offers any sort of return period. Can you normally return computer software at a brick-and-mortar store? I thought most stores only let you exchange for an identical copy in case you got a defective disc.
  • i think we all need that law in place, then google will suddenly change their attitude
  • I think Google should at least give us a 24 hour window like everyone is suggesting. The 15 min window really sucks and has prevented me from buying a lot of apps. Something for them to really take into consideration. It's nearly impossible for any of us to experience an app in less than 15 min! So I think a 24 hour return policy would do just fine.
  • I think it should be dictated by category of app. Some apps you don't know how well they will perform and/or affect your handset (battery consumption, for example) unless you use it extensively for at least a day. Just a thought.
  • Either that, or size of the app (assuming maybe it takes 10 minutes to download, giving you 5 minutes of test time). Or perhaps the devs should decide? This is a tricky matter, but either way it shouldn't be close to 15 minutes in any case.
  • Props to the Taiwanese government. The 15-minute policy is ridiculous-- I like seeing serious opposition to it like this.
  • No, governments do not have money to burn, saying that is just crazy. The majority of them are insolvent, propped up by a ponzi scheme the likes that has never been seen. Anyway, back on topic...15 minutes is ridiculous. I could deal with 60 though.
  • Right now 15 minutes is not enough time in most game purchases due to the need to OPEN the app to begin a large download. Some games require 300 to 1gb of extra data to download. There is NOT enough time to test an app in this case. If Google wants to stay with 15 minute window in every category but games that's fine. Just give us our 1 hour back in the game category.
  • Google announced at IO that the app upload limits for developers were increased to 2 or 3 gb (maybe even 4, can't remember), so that fixes that problem until games get even larger.
  • Im in Taiwan and really pissed off at Google. I do think the 7 days request is a bit much on behalf of the Taiwanese govt.. but that isn't the issue. The real issue is that Google isnt complying with the laws of this country and are trying to coerce the government but making the users suffer.... In my opinion, such action is one step short of extortion and blackmail. Google is getting too big for its boots and, if Apple can have the respect and decency to find a common ground/resolution that complies with a country's law... why cant Google? Sure.. send reps to try to sort out the issue and find a solution.. but dont punish the users in a country for their government standing up to protect their lawful rights. Shame on you Google for such actions! Meanwhile I guess i just have to use Market Enabler to update the apps that I paid for... Gave Google a percentage... and then had withdrawn because Google wants to have it all its own way.
    Im pretty sure Taiwan will stick to its guns and hopefully they can sort it out.
  • @cybermessiah: Apple has respect for no one! Don't even think that they wouldn't do something else if it meant $1 more per item and they could get away with it. Apple doesn't give a $*!t. If they seemed to respect your laws it was only because it benefited them and because they had no choice, not because of "respect." :) Google does not have to offer any refunds granted, Apples doesn't, but a 15 min window is basically useless. If you ARE going to offer one at least make it several hours to give people time to really test an application out. Sometimes I install an app at work then get busy and don't have time to really use it until later. Now I have to be very careful when I buy utilities etc.. I don't buy as much as I once did because of this.
  • Now Europe needs to add carrier billing in the market.
  • I'm Taiwanese and live in another city HsinChu. I'm so shame at Taipei Government. This policy is guided by some stupid official... Please let my market back to Taiwan. Or please just ban Taipei city...