According to a new email which has reportedly been sent out by Google to Google Play developers, there is a change on the horizon to the way in which app refunds are processed. Technically speaking, this is not a change which will affect the app user, however, it will affect developers as Google notes that they will no longer be absorbing the cost of app refunds which occur outside of the standard 48-hour refund window.
Up until now, the refund system on the Google Play Store, while being straightforward, is also slightly complicated. Those who download an app have two hours from the time of app downloading to refund the app as is, and receive their money back. This is a 'no hassle' type of refund process. Outside of two hours (and under 48 hours), users are still able to apply for a refund although, the process is thought to be a little less hassle-free, compared to the two-hour window. That said, beyond 48 hours, those who download an app can still apply for a refund. The only notable difference really is that prior to today, once an app download exceeded the initial 48 hour duration, if a refund was issued, Google took the financial loss. Today's email looks to rectify this by largely making the developer 100-percent responsible for the costs incurred by a refunded app, irrespective of whether it was refunded within the first 48 hours or not.
To try and alleviate any issues from the developer side and to, as Google puts it, "deter abusive behavior", Google is also making available a Voided Purchases API, which allows developers to retract any in-app features or services that a user may have purchased and then refunded. Essentially, making the refund system "fairer for all users". The email also seems to confirm that this policy change will be officially reflected in the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement in the coming months. Which likely means that while Google Play developers are being made aware of the change now, it will take the next few months to be fully ironed out. Although as mentioned, from the app user perspective, there will be little change other than knowing that you can get a refund outside of the 48 hour window – if you did not already know.