Google has changed the way they handle app refunds in the Play Store.
A few years back, the app refund window was 24 hours. This gave users time to test out an app and decide if they wanted to continue using it. Google changed that window from 24 hours to 15 minutes, to the delight of app developers and the outrage of users. We all adjusted to that change and learned to live with it. Google decided that they wanted to tweak this system again, and this time it could work out in your favor.
This change means that there are three options for getting an app refund now. The standard 15 minute refund window is still in place, and works as expected. If you request a refund on an app or game after 15 minutes but before 48 hours have passed, the refund is sometimes sent to the developer for approval. More often than not, it’s automatically approved by Google and the dev has to refund the money. After 48 hours the refund seems to be automated, but the developer isn’t charged for the refund. Here’s the kicker: the app or game isn’t removed from your list of purchased apps.
Android Police did a bunch of research and work to clear this up for us. It seems that Google has decided to change their policy on app refunds. It must be easier and less expensive to just give users back their money. The other option is to deal with all of the requests, customer service issues, and disgruntled users. Google made the choice to handle things this way instead. They’re eating the cost of apps that are refunded outside of 48 hours.
Don’t go thinking that you can shaft Google out of a bunch of apps. The company has stated that they have a process in place to prevent abuses of this new refund policy. They wouldn’t specify what the process is, but we have to assume it involves tracking app purchases and refunds. If a pattern of abuse shows itself, you’ll probably get shut down. Then what will happen if you legitimately need to refund an app? This is a good change for users, and it’s easy on developers. Let’s not screw it up.