On December 4th, Google user judez reported on the Android Market support forum that for six hours straight, all of his Android Market sales were showing up as "payment declined." The issue continued through December 5th and 6th with over one hundred responses from other developers. Other threads were started reporting the same issue as well.  Take a look at the problem:


The screenshot, posted by khriskooper on the second page of that thread, shows just how ridiculous the issue became. Developers were reporting anywhere from 50-90% of payments being declined, with the most significantly affected sellers being outside of the United States with the purchasers in the United States. It is possible that a problem was unintentionally published to the Android Market when Google added the similar/related tab.

It appears that the issue has been fixed, but Google still has not given a good explanation to the developers nor really apologized for the problem. This was the initial response from Google:

Hi. We saw a disproportionately large number of declines over the weekend, but have addressed this now.

Please let us know if you're still seeing this.

When one user showed surprise at the lack an apology or explanation, Google offered this:

Apologies for seeming brusque on the earlier post.

We deeply regret the inconvenience and pain caused to all of you, and take our responsibility to our merchants very seriously. I certainly didn't mean to be dismissive.

Re: the reasons. We're still digging into some of the underlying reasons with our integration partners, and will try to share more soon.

The real problem here is not just the lack of sympathy or a legitimate explanation - it's the time it took Google to even respond to the issue for the first time, let alone acknowledge it. A 3 day response turnaround for a serious problem that was causing developers to lose large amounts of money is simply not acceptable for a company that single handedly controls the faith of the original Android Market. And it's not an isolated incident either - it's notoriously hard to get a timely response for Android issues that can only be fixed by the big G.

Google, you can do better. The frustration was brought to not just developers, but also your customers, who, I'm sure, didn't enjoy getting declined multiple times while trying to purchase new apps. As some of the commenters rightfully mentioned, can a huge company like Google hire at least 1 person to monitor the issues during the weekend? Android is not an infant anymore - it's a giant machine, working its way to being the world's largest mobile OS, and it can't afford to hit snags like these and piss off its developers. Google, you know how loyal your developers are to you, so why don't you return the favor and improve on the customer service front?

Source: Android Market Support Forum via tip from Paul D.

Ian G. Clifton
An Air Force veteran, Ian has been intrigued by technology for as long as he can remember. He develops Android applications for both work and play such as CNET News and Survivor, but he also enjoys art of all kinds and spends some of his few free minutes on photography and sketching.

  • Peter

    Google treat the market like one of their 20% projects. Some stuff is starting to happen (finally) but the bear needs a big kick.

  • CodeMonkey

    You only have to look at the rolling issues people get with 'Download unsuccessful' to realise that this has needed some Google attention for some time.

    I've been with Android since the beginning so have had this issue several times and know that the best course of action is to do nothing (it was a painful lesson) and wait for the big G to step up and work some server-side magic. But other users do not and I feel their pain.

  • Peter

    I wonder if this is linked to the attacks on Mastercard for dropping Wikileaks?

    If you want a perfect example of how Google treats the market you only have to look at the andronavi entry in the entertainment section of the market website. If you are only going to display a few dozen apps out of thousands why pick the one with corrupt screen shots.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      It shouldn't be linked to anything Visa/MC - the attack was targeting their corporate websites only.

  • Matt

    This wasn't an issue with Android Market...it was an issue with Google Checkout. Other services or shops that used Checkout had the same issues (I was affected)

  • http://www.singleclickcheckout.com John Loschky

    Why depend on Google Checkout when you have plenty of other options at far lower rev share and greater conversion?