How to avoid hidden charges on Android apps

by , Apps 18/11/2010
android sneaky

Some Android apps are being advertised without VAT, currency conversion or card fees applied, meaning customers may be charged considerably more than they first thought.

A reader of Eurodroid went to buy an app called Squeeze Commander – apparently a remote control app for Logitech Squeeze Boxes, not a high-ranking sexual deviant – advertised as costing £2.55.

But VAT then took this to £3.04, before currency conversion then upped it to £3.19. Finally a £1.50 card fee was added and they ended up paying £4.69, almost double the advertised price. Oh dear!

Android Market

This instance highlights how careful you have to be when looking into the small print of certain cards when you are buying apps, particularly considering a £1.50 charge may be more than you might spend on some apps. Our unlucky customer here is reported to have used a Visa Debit card from Halifax, although we don’t know on which type of account.

It also shows that often costs such as currency conversion and VAT can be left off estimated prices and you should always be wary when looking at what the price does include.

Top three tips to avoid hidden charges on Android Apps

  • Check with your bank to find out what your credit card handling fees are and what you’ll be charged for a transaction in a foreign currency. For instance, Natwest’s Mastercard charges 2.75% on foreign currency transcations.
  • The ~ symbol in front of an app’s price indicates that that the price has been converted from a foreign currency and is just an estimate, so on the Google Checkout page pay attention to how much VAT is being added on.
  • The Android Market lets you obtain a full refund if you’re not happy with your download, as long as you claim within 24 hours of purchase. So if you download an app check the emailed invoice as soon as possible to make sure you’re not charged any hidden fees.

3 comments

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Kayeffsea

I was caught out by this. I challenged my Halifax Bank about the charges as they are the ones appearing to be winning from the increased popularity in Android phones. The charges only occur when an app is purchased from a foreign based app developer, which is most of them for Android. I highlighted to Halifax that these are relatively low value purchases and we are being charged 1.50 for every purchase that is a 200% increase in some cases. They did suggest bulk buying the apps as we would only be charged once for the currency conversion charge. There isn’t an option for this on google checkout.

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andrew w

yeh ive just found this, recently upgraded to a HTC7 have purchased about 10 apps in two weeks for about 99p each and also had to stump up an extra £15 in card fees! not happy

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andrew w

edit>

does this happen with iphones?

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