Just got off the phone with Google over their Android app store (Market or Google Play to those keeping track of the name changes) about an application that I purchased that can no longer be found. Evidentially their new policy in the Market can be summed up as a head shrug and the words “I got mine.” They have decided their fifteen minute refund window is not only absolute, but also applies even in cases where the developers are actively screwing over their customers.
Let me back it up for a bit, so you can really understand where this came from….
An app I bought way back when I was just getting into Android with my Pandigital Novel, Chandroid was bought out by IDEAL who decided that they no longer wished to continue supporting it and would be screwing over all those who had purchased the app. They did this openly in the Play Store:
If you are writing to us regarding changes, external to Chandroid, suddenly impacting access to 4chan… we are aware of the issue.
Since they acquired a majority stake in Onymous Heroes in July of 2010, IDEAL Group allowed us to maintain the application because we were passionate about it. Unfortunately, neither Chandroid, nor any of its add-on modules, were ever a core part of IDEAL Group’s business model, which is developing open source Android applications in support of accommodating the access needs of individuals with disabilities. Last week our Chandroid developer left the company.
This e-mail is to inform you that our Chandroid developer will not be replaced and that we will no longer be maintaining Chandroid.
As an interim step, and for the next 30 days, we are making Chandroid available as a no cost application. After that time it will be removed from
Android Market and twilighted.
While we wish things were different, the lack of control over external changes to websites, and the loss of our Chandroid developer led us to making these decisions.
We are sorry that these actions need to be taken.
Chad Brown, CEO
In the light of this blatant bait and switch operation I decided to check out what else I had purchased was now suddenly no longer available to me because the developers had decided to screw over their customers—namely me! That was when I noticed that Weather Widget was now no longer named that, and was now known as Weather and Toggle Widget. That’s when I saw that the link in my account to the app I had purchased was broken.
I tried searching the Play Store for my app and the market seemed to think I needed to buy it again. The application reviews are filled with angry customers complaining about this issue. Thinking that this would be a known issue, I asked for a refund from my account page.
Wait…that can’t be right! I paid for this app….or did I?
The reviews are instructive here. Evidentially the developer removed functionality in the version of the app I and others had paid for, sent it out as an update to the unwary and reuploaded the app as a paid version under a different name. Trying to get the app I already paid for once launches an attempt to get me to repay for it! And based on those reviews mentioned above, not only does Google know about this, the developer is refusing to answer emails.
Thinking to myself, surely if any case warranted “extenuating circumstances” this would be it—especially as the app developer was clearly acting nefariously in attempt to get customers to pay twice for the same app, I used the link in the email to fill out a contact form and request a phone call from a Google representative….
According to the lady on the phone I was out of luck since so much time had passed since I bought the app and when the developer started these shenanigans. She reminded me of Google’s fifteen minute refund window and told me that there was nothing Google could do about the situation since it had obviously been much longer than fifteen minutes since I purchased the app.
"But wait," I told her, "I remember the introduction of that fifteen minute refund window!
"That was never intended for something like this, that was intended to stop kids from buying games, playing them through in thirty minutes and getting their money back once they’d beaten the game. This is an entirely different situation."
The customer representative from Google would not be moved. Google’s policy is fifteen minutes to get a refund and that’s it. It doesn’t matter what happens afterwards.
Incredulous, I asked her if it was really Google’s policy to say “Screw you jack, I got mine!” to its customers. Like a zombie reading off a script she robotically repeated her spiel about it being nothing Google could do because the fifteen minute window had long since passed. Then she suggested I try talking with the developer to see if he would be willing to refund the money he had stolen.
Yes, clearly what I need to do here is contact the developer whose gone through such lengths to screw over his customers and ask the bad man nicely if I could please have the money he’s stolen from me…yeah, that’s the ticket. That’ll work just great… Just…
Double You Tea Efff….
You know, I’m not sure what they’re all smoking over there at Mountain View, but I’m pretty sure it can’t be something that’s available on the open market.
Still not being able to believe the words my ears were telling me, which is understandable as being hard of hearing I occasionally mishear and misunderstand people all the time. Maybe that was the case here? No such luck, the salesdroid repeated the not-a-script response of Google’s fifteen minute refund policy meaning that there was nothing they could do.
She then asked me if I’d like the issue to be forwarded for review and if there was anything further I would like her to pass on about the subject?
I replied that she could tell Google if this is the way they choose to treat paying customers, from this time on I will never buy any Movies, Books, Music, or any apps from them ever again. I will pirate everything I might need on my phone and the new NookColor I just bought not even a week ago, because Google can’t be trusted and I can never know that I’ll be able to keep what I purchased. I also told her she could also pass along the information that once my current phone goes dead my next phone will be an iPhone and my next tablet will be an iPad—because Google cannot be trusted to deal fairly with its customers.
Then as she asked me if my preferred email address was the one I had given earlier, a Gmail address I commented that I would have to change that too in the near future since I no longer trusted them with my email. I thanked her for wasting my time and wished her a nice day, ending the call.
I know Google is supposed to be reviewing the situation and getting back to me, but I really don’t expect much at this point—after all, why should they care? They got theirs…
As for me? Well all I can say is I intend to keep going forward… ;-)
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