One of the perks of buying apps on Google Play is easy access to quick refunds. If you download a paid app and quickly decide you don’t like it, you’ve got 2 hours to immediately refund the purchase. If you need a bit longer to make a decision, there’s also an easy window to apply for a refund within 48 hours. However, not everyone realizes you can still get a refund outside of that window…
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In an update a couple of years back, Google quietly implemented an automated refund process which allows users to request a refund well outside of that window. To do that, all a user needs to do is request the refund via email, and in most cases, Google will simply accept the request and refund the app’s cost. When doing that outside of the first 48 hours, Google absorbed the cost of that refund which helped prevent developers from losing income on older purchases.
Now, that policy is changing. This week Google sent out emails to active Google Play developers notifying them of a change to Play’s refund policy. You can read the full email below, but the biggest thing to note is that Google will no longer be absorbing the cost of refunds outside of 48 hours. Rather, that refund will be taken out of the developer’s payout total.
We will subtract all refunds from developer payouts, not just those made within 48 hours of purchase.
So, long story short, app developers will now be liable for all refunds, regardless of when they are given. While this does make sense, one question that remains is this: will the automated refund process stick around? After reaching out to Google for clarification, it seems as though the automated process will stay in place, but there will be “a few tweaks.”
Google also pointed out that in this update, the Voided Purchases API has been made available to developers to allow them to identify users who have requested refunds and “claw back IAP items for that user in an app or game, if needed” according to the Google spokesperson we talked with.
These changes won’t be obvious right away, but they will being taking effect over the coming months.
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.