BE CAUTIOUS of Adroid in-app purchases!

Written By Andrew Nimmo Page Editor

BE CAUTIOUS of Android in-app purchases!

There’s been an on-going issue of Android in-app purchases not reporting to the app, while the customers’ credit card is still charged.

Koushik Dutta, a self-employed software engineer who has developed a fine reputation and following for creating the ROM Manager app, posted on Google+ Thursday about this problem under this unambiguous headline: “Don’t Use Android Market In App Billing. Seriously.”

Here’s the gist of the issue, which he drew up from reported failure rates of sales in ROM Manager and another app, DeskSMS:
Whether you are a consumer, or a developer, you do not want to purchase or use Android Market In App Billing. Why? Because there’s a 3-4% reported failure rate. [1]

   The way in app billing works:
       1) User makes a purchase.
       2) Android Market purchase begins.
       3) The purchase completes, and the user is returned to the application
       4) The purchase is reported to the application. [2]

Seems simple enough. The problem though is that step 4 never happens: the application never gets a report of the purchase succeeding. However, the credit card has been charged. Furthermore, you can’t initiate another attempt to purchase, because the Android Market will prevent duplicate purchases. [3] To add insult to injury, the consumer does not even have the usual luxury of a 15 minute refund window, because it is not possible to refund in app purchases.

So your money is gone, and the app never receives acknowledgment of the purchase, so you never get what you paid for. There seems to be no hope to fix the app on this point.

Dutta, whose post generated many comments, attracted the attention of Android developer programs engineer Trevor Johns, who stepped in to try to help. Dutta will update his post with those developments.

Apple has also drawn heat for its problems with in-app purchases, particularly a lack of obstacles for children to run up their parents’ tab while playing games and other apps. Parents have sued the company in response to their kids’ spending sprees. As with Android, it is alarming how easy it is for a child to figure out passwords, start downloading and playing with apps, and making choices that add up fast.

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