When the Google Market (now known as Google Play), was first available to Android owners, the refund policy stated that there was a full refund available within 24 hours of purchasing the application. However, a lot of developers, especially games developers complained about this period.
Their main concern was that people were using the application for a day, practically non-stop, would then ask for refund. Now, this obviously is more applicable for games. A user can complete major, if not all, of a game, if they played it for 10-12 hours. For this reason, Google, drastically reduced the refund time to 15 minutes.
However, the one refund for all policy is not good for all applications. While it may make a lot of sense for games, a 15 min refund is not that good for other applications like calendars, email, to-do lists, etc. In these applications, it may take a lot longer to find out if the application has bugs, or the user interface is unsuitable.
Large content games nullify refund policies
Another issue, is that some games download data after they have been installed. This can be a huge download, and even those with fast connections, it takes a long time, especially if the data download servers are busy and therefore slow or unavailable. So the 15 minute refund policy makes no sense, as 15 minutes would have elapsed before the user has the chance to see if the game works on their phone.
Let the publisher choose
So in essence, there should be different levels of refund policies, where the refundable period is set by the publisher of the application, within a limited range, i.e. 15 minutes to 2 weeks.
So the smaller download games would retain the 15 minute period. Whereas publishers of games with large data downloads may set it to 6 hours. Applications like image processors, email client could set it to 1 day. Finally, applications like Tasker, or WhenDidI, where it takes time to gauge the quality of the application may want to set it to 1 or 2 weeks.
No need for trial applications
Another advantage is for those applications who offer a paid and free trial application at the same time in Google Play. Rather than develop a separate application for trial period, they can just offer a single paid application with an extended refund period. Incidentally, locking an application after a period of time is not that easy, so I think application developers would welcome this approach.
So perhaps it’s time for Google to rethink their refund policy, and offer configurable refund periods to developers and publishers. It will make developers happy to only code the paid application, and users are happy knowing that they have time to fully evaluate the application, resulting in more application sales.