Get this, plaintiffs Dodd Harris and Stephen Sabatino have brought a lawsuit against Google claiming, “Google fails to test Android phone programs for its online store, and then will not refund customers who purchase defective apps.” They go on to equate this to unfair and fraudulent business practices, for which they want damages and an injunction.
Here are bits and pieces from their claim.
“Defendant engaged in deceptive and unfair practices by misleading purchasers of the applications into believing that all of the applications available for purchase in the Google Play Store controlled by defendant were in working order, were compatible with all Android phones, and functioned as represented.”
“Defendant controls the Google Play Store, the software for which comes preinstalled on Android phones, and retains a substantial portion (30 percent) of the revenue from the sale of each application as a transaction fee.”
“To the detriment of application purchasers, defendant maintained no quality control, safety parameters or regulations concerning the sale of applications in the Google Play Store.”
What made them so sour, you might ask? Well, Mr. Harris spent $4.83 for a “worthless” application to learn Chinese. Meanwhile, Mr. Sabatino spent $4.99 on a defective BitTorrent client.
“In contrast, the Apple iTunes App Store for the iPhone and the Amazon Appstore for Android both test the functionality of the applications they sell”
“Based upon Google’s control over the Google Play Store, and Google’s reputation as a leader in the technology industry, purchasers of applications believed they were downloading safe and secure software from Google that would function on their Android phones as represented. In fact, many applications do not function at all or do not function as represented in the Google Play Store. Although Google is aware that it is selling many applications which do not function as represented, once a consumer purchases an application from the Google Play Store, it is almost impossible to return the application for a refund.
On the whole, they have filed suit for breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and unfair and fraudulent business practices.
I always find it unfortunate when someone experiences problems like this involving Android, but honestly, I’m not feeling much empathy for these two. To me, part of what’s great about the Play Store is Google’s lack of interference. I feel capable of choosing software for myself and I’m happy Google obliges rather than limiting my options. Besides, Google does actively remove malware that breaches their terms of service.
Also, the market prevents incompatible devices from downloading apps which won’t function, which leads me to wonder… What exactly is ‘”worthless” to Mr. Harris and in what way is the BitTorrent app defective for Mr. Sabantino? That isn’t discussed. Might they be running custom ROMs that are causing issues? There are a ton of free variables here.
Lastly, in respect to it being “almost impossible to return applications,” can I just say I have never once ran into this problem. Typically the 15 minutes gives me a decent look at the app and if it isn’t my cup of tea I simply click refund. Done Deal. I don’t see much impossibility there. Of course if you exceed that 15 minute trial period the button will disappear. At that point I would assume it would make sense to kindly contact the developer and explain your situation. I’ve done this on very rare occasions and a calm collected email has always sorted things out in at most a few days.
What do you all think? Have they got a good case?