CHOICE membership

Google Play Refunds & Responsibility for Apps - 'Recording app: Audio recorder & Voice recorder'

Hi all,

So I’ve left it a bit late to investigate this scam and follow up my options (if any) but you know - it’s 2020!

Long-story short, there is a simple audio recording app on Google Play that charges you more than $300 for a year subscription. This in of itself is insane, and perhaps is a scam regardless of the means of getting it. The info that pops up when you install it is super fast and doesn’t look important, further to all this the app doesn’t actually work!

NB: I think this is my own fault I got this massive charge, because I was not paying proper attention - but I still think that this App is a scam!

Backstory
In June I was having a band practice and needed to record something quickly. I opened up Google Play to download an audio recording app. I had downloaded a free recording app on my old phone, so downloaded what looked to me to be the same one, or very similar.

I wasn’t paying attention to the pop up aside to note it said something about charging me at the end of the trial. From previous experience, a charge for an app like this would be $4 or maybe $5 at most, so I didn’t really take much notice.
I was having a busy time, so I didn’t read the email that came to my gmail after installing and using the app for recording during the practice.

I later went to copy over the files I’d recorded, and noticed that after 10 or so seconds of each file - the recording goes silent. So I go to the App’s page on Google Play to see if other people have commented, and it is JAMMED with people complaining about being scammed, and similar results.

this is the app and reviews etc:

I contacted Google 2 days after purchasing (when I saw the charge on my bank account) and they got back saying they could not refund it as I agreed to the payment.
They only suggested to contact the developer, which I did but of course got no reply (nor has anyone else, as evidenced by the reviews on Google Play)

Questions

  • has anyone had a similar issue before?
  • does the fact that the App doesn’t actually work mean (regardless of the rest of the issue) mean I should be entitled to a refund?
  • does it seem completely wrong to you that this app is still available on Google Play?
  • any suggestions on where to from here?

thanks in advance
Leyne

5 Likes

A service or a product I think would include software. As such if it fails to carry out it’s advertised purpose, ie not fit for purpose then a refund can be sought from the retailer whom I suspect would be Google Store in this case. On inspection of the page you link to, it shows that over 1 million downloads have occurred and that it has a rating of 4.2. Perhaps an update to Android has created a recent problem.

If Google have pushed back then you need to get more formal with them and use a registered mail letter or email to them requesting the refund. You can find templates for this both on the ACCC & CHOICE’s sites. Do not conduct this request by phone as your Office of Fair Trading, the ACCC (if you lodge a complaint with them) and if it gets to your Civil and Administrative Tribunal will all want to see proof of contact and what was requested.

The CHOICE Checklist is found at https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/consumer-rights-and-advice/make-a-complaint/articles/consumer-complaints-checklist

The link to the templates are found in https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/consumer-rights-and-advice/make-a-complaint/articles/templates-and-phone-scripts

The ACCC checklist and link to their templates can be found at https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/complaints-problems/make-a-consumer-complaint

The ACCC are unlikely to act on your complaint unless they see it as an issue big/important enough for them to weigh in on or they have received enough complaints to stir them to action.

4 Likes

How was it paid for?

If it was a credit card, it maybe worthwhile seeing if a charge back can be done as the product isn’t working.

Maybe not, it may work on various other versions of Android other than the one you have (it could also be a device issue as well - incompatible with your particular device the app runs on). Possibly the notation about compatibility is wrongly described.

4 Likes

Some of the reviews and their 5 star review patterns look a little suspicious…a number of 5 star reviews in quick succession immediately after a negative, low star review.

The app developer may be doing this…

to maintain a high star rating to ensure its ongoing downloads.

4 Likes

We’ve experience where the marketing ploy of free turned out to be really just a sampler. It would only process the first short section of each audio file. The App which was available from the Apple Store performed audio bit rate conversion, volume equalisation of digital audio from different sources and formats. Being Apple the mechanism re payment seems a little more transparent compared with other sources. The product marketing appears equally opaque - shonky?

Hence the free version really is just a free trial, with the word trial missing in the introductions. The option to be able to upgrade to a paid for ‘Pro’ version was promoted as an option. It was not really an option.

It might be more common a marketing ploy the more expensive the prospective purchase.

2 Likes