South Korea Forces Apple and Google to change app store refund policy

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By Phi Tran

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For South Koreans, getting refunds from Apple and Google for less-than-stellar apps just got a lot easier. The new law comes from the Korea Fair Trade Commission, which is stepping in to revise app store policies from Apple and Google.

The country’s anti-trust watchdog targeted app stores as a response to repeated requests made by the Citizen’s Coalition for Economic Justice. Last March, the commission ordered KT, SK Planet, LG Electronics and LG Uplus to change their webstore policies.

Hwang Won-chul, head of the KFTC’s Adhesion Contract Division said, “The FTC’s corrective orders will become benchmark cases for other countries, which face growing customer complaints over unfair provisions in contracts of mobile webstore operators.”

As of now, Google’s app store will change its policy to be based off of Web developers’ refund policy, but its scope will be limited to South Korea where Google will no longer be able to automate charges for end-of-trial payments. According to the KFTC, Apple is considering a global revision of its app store contracts which includes notifications when changes occur. Additionally, the new law would make it easier to get refunds for unauthorized in-app purchases made by children.

Further, the KFTC is also reviewing a complaint from the Citizen’s Coalition alleging unfair practices with Apple’s iPhone repair policies, that does not return users’ original phones.