To comply with local consumer-protection laws, Apple has rolled out a new refund policy in the Taiwanese versions of its App Store, Mac App Store, and iBookstore.
The changes, reported by IDG News this morning, give app buyers the option to get a refund on paid applications and e-books within seven days of buying them from one of Apple's digital storefronts. As part of the new policy, Apple is requiring that users delete all downloaded copies of the content.
Apple's updated terms and conditions document now spells out the change right up near the top:
You may cancel your purchase within seven (7) days from the date of delivery and iTunes will reimburse you for the amount paid, provided you inform iTunes that you have deleted all copies of the product. Upon cancellation you will no longer be licensed to use the product. This right cannot be waived.
News that Apple had agreed to the local policy, and was unofficially offering such a refund program emerged late last month in a story by the WantChinaTimes (via Macrumors), which said controversy had erupted after a number of customers found themselves unable to get refunds on a phone-tracking app that didn't work as advertised.
Refunds on digital goods continue to be one of the big differences among digital application stores. While Apple, Microsoft, and Research In Motion all maintain an "all sales are final" policy, Google gives buyers a short grace period after making a purchase. Google's Android and Chrome Web Store efforts offer users a 15- and 30-minute window, respectively, to return an application for a full refund from the time they downloaded it. Application developers on the two Google platforms are also able to issue refunds to buyers after the window has closed.
Despite the grace period and developer return options, Google's policy has proved to be a problem in Taiwan, IDG says, with the local city government requiring a similar timeframe to the one Apple has instated. "The two groups are still in talks," IDG noted, with Google having been fined last month for not amending its sales policy to comply.