Google has announced that it will no longer absorb refund costs that have occurred outside the 48-hour window, but instead, they will be deducted from developers’ payouts from now on.
As you may know already, Google’s refund policy is very straight-forward: you can get a full immediate refund within 2 hours of your purchase, no questions asked, and there’s also the 48-hour window to apply for a refund if you need more time to decide. What you may not know is that you can still get a refund outside that 48-hour window.
Google quietly implemented this change a few years back where non-instant refunds are categorized into ones that have been purchased within 48 hours and ones that are outside that time frame. The automated refund process for apps that have been purchased more than 48 hours ago is actually quite simple: you request the refund via email, and often times, Google will accept it and refund the cost right back into your account. The only difference – at least for developers – was that before, Google absorbed the costs associated with refunds made outside 48 hours.
The only difference – at least for developers – was that before, Google absorbed the costs associated with refunds made outside 48 hours.
Well, that is no longer the case. In an email sent out to Google Play developers, the search giant explains that it will be making some changes to its return policy. Specifically, refunds of all sorts, even those made outside the 48-hour window, will now be the responsibility of developers:
Hello Google Play Developer,
In order to keep Play fair for users and developers, and bring Play in line with the majority of app and game stores in the industry, we are making a change to our developer policy regarding refunds. *We will subtract all refunds from developer payouts, not just those made within 48 hours of purchase.* The Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement (“DDA”) will be updated to reflect this change in the coming months.
With the same goal in mind, we’ve just launched the Voided Purchases API to help you maintain a fair ecosystem in your app or game.
With the new API, you can check which users have refunded or charged back in-app purchases in order to claw back those items for that user in your app or game. This change helps to deter abusive behavior and will make the ecosystem fairer for all users.
We updated the Google Play Developer API terms of service to include the terms governing the use of this new API. By using the new API, you indicate your agreement to these terms.
As you can see, Google is now providing what is called the Voided Purchases API so that developers can “claw back” any in-app purchases of users who have received refunds, which according to the company, should help deter people from abusing this system.
According to 9to5Google, the automated refund process is here to stay, but Google is looking to implement a few tweaks. These changes will take effect in the coming months.