The Marketplace May Bite You!

In a previous episode of Marketplace Woes, we discovered that the otherwise unexplained negative download bug/feature was in fact the result of a customer having his carrier apply a chargeback for the amount paid for the product.  Fair enough!  One would hope that if a customer didn’t like what she paid for that she could get her money back.

In response to this it seemed to be a good idea to provide a trial version for Fraction Calculator, so if a customer didn’t like the thing after a free trial, well, then he wouldn’t need to buy it.  One thing a trial period would help out on is getting more customers trying the product, right?  Good deal all the way around.  So I decided to make a revision to the product so it had a trial version — and along with that double the price to $1.99.   I put together the appropriate revision and submitted it.

As I indicated in an earlier post, the Fraction Calculator failed certification, due to a particular test that they hadn’t applied originally to it.  OK, fair enough, I better fix it.  So I’m in the process of it right now.  It’s a little complicated, but it will make the app better and that’s pretty much the most important thing.  But there’s a problem here!

Halfway to Paradise

Well, so the new version (v1.1) didn’t make it to the marketplace, but guess what did?  The new price ($1.99) and the Free Trial feature!  So what, you ask?  Well, let me tell you!

I submitted the new version on February 19.  It wasn’t tested (or I didn’t get the results of the testing) until February 25, but guess what?  The new price and the free trial took place immediately!  How do I know this?  Because my app report for Fraction Calculator shows I got 2 downloads on February 20, and one on February 21 — all three of them as free trial!

For the free trial it is possible for the developer to impose limitations on the app while in the trial, and only provide full functionality after the user has paid.  You can also make it entirely “sharewarey”, by not making the app crippled at all, and hope against hope that the user will pay for it.  Eventually.  Maybe put in a nag feature, that reminds the user that they haven’t paid yet, but otherwise allow full function.  Up to the developer, sure.

But Oh My Gosh!  I failed to read the fine print.  Well, it wasn’t all that fine, and it wasn’t on the bottom, and it was in red!

All changes made on this page are reflected for all published and unpublished instances of this application.

For those of you who can’t read it in the image above, this is what it says:

All changes made on this page are reflected for all published and unpublished instances of this application.

This means that if you submit a change on the pricing page for the new version of your app, and you select Trial Supported, unfortunately the new pricing AND the free trial will take place immediately on the current version!  And if the old (i.e. current) version doesn’t know what a free trial is, a user that downloads the not-free-trial-supporting version under the free trial will be able to use it without restriction until the cows come home.  And for most people, who don’t live on farms, the cows never come home.

So, remember kids, don’t change the pricing terms for your new version until it has passed certification or the Marketplace will bite you!

This is an important Safety Tip.

Of course, I have gone in and changed the pricing for v1.0 back to what it was.  And from now on I will remember to actually read and comprehend the text shown in red.

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2 Responses to The Marketplace May Bite You!

  1. Adrian says:

    As soon as your changes are approved their access will be limited as the app contains a trial licence, so its only really a temporary issue.

    • Mike Clark says:

      Not quite. In this case, the version they have downloaded is actually the paid version, for which they have not paid. This is because the free trial version (which contained code supporting the trial vs. paid situation) has not yet made it to the marketplace. The only way they would get back into “sync”, as it were, is if they notice that there is an update to the product (which would be the version containing the free trial vs paid), and perform the update. At that point, they suddenly are in free trial mode because the app will now query Microsoft’s servers for paid status, only to discover they are not in paid status.

      But in the end it doesn’t particularly matter all that much, because the app was not “hot” enough that many users downloaded the paid version as if it were in free trial. And now there is a free, ad-supported version out there!

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