Well, this is an interesting turn of events for the Android Market's universally-despised 15-minute app return window. According to the Taipei Times, the Taipei City Government was recently alerted to Google's Android Market return policies - policies that violate Taiwanese consumer protection laws requiring any product bought over the internet to have at least a 7-day "trial period."
Earlier this month, the Taiwanese government gave Google a 15-day ultimatum to revise its app return policies to include the mandatory 7-day trial period, but Google refused to comply. Faced with a $1 million fine for non-compliance, Google, after negotiations with the government broke down, decided yesterday to remove all access to paid apps for Android devices in Taiwan. This, understandably, has a lot of people extremely pissed.
The first question on every Android fan's mind is likely, "Well, what about Apple's App Store non-return policy?" Apple was slapped with the same 15-day ultimatum as Google - but Apple complied with the request. That's right. Apple, regarded by many Android fanboys as the consumer technology anti-Christ, is more willing to change its app return policies than Google. Someone check the temperature in Hell.
The Taipei City Government has called Google's retaliation a plan to "coerce Taiwanese consumers into giving up their rights," and has no intent to remit the million-dollar slap on the wrist until Google institutes a 7-day trial period as part of the Android Market service in Taiwan.
Google's argument? The provision in question of Taiwan's Consumer Protection Act doesn't apply to app stores - because consumers can instantly try an application and make a decision whether or not to keep it in a matter of minutes. While the merits of Google's return window aren't something we want to get into here (trust us - we're not totally on-board with it, either), there's clearly a lot of people that are unhappy with the present state of affairs.
This also raises an interesting question about countries without access to Amazon's Appstore. The Amazon Appstore, like Apple's App Store, does not have any sort of clear refund process or return window. Is this one of the reasons Amazon's Android Market alternative is not available outside of the US? Seems like a pretty legit explanation to us.
Google is continuing to discuss the return policy with the Taipei City government, but paid apps will remain inaccessible on the island nation until an agreement is reached. And if one isn't? We think that's pretty unlikely - Google probably doesn't want to go scratching a country off the paid apps access list.