How should a Market Place refund or free trial policy look like?

At the moment we know that MP purchases are final unless the developer withdraws the model.
But on the other hand there is the problem of the guys from MS being enthusiastic about another plane or Legend only to find that there are major basic problems. And again the subject of being able to get your money back for something that doesnt work, comes up.
Problem of course is that we operate from different Countries. Some like the UK have very comprehensive customer Protection Laws that include online purchases, some like the US have very little protection.
But yet there is a basic principle of fairness at stake here.
But this isnt easy. The moment you wonder what such a policy should look like you run into all kinds of issues.
It has to be fair to MS and to the user.
There have to be certain metrics the product can be judged by.
So I would suggest that first we require a published set of basic ctriteria that every plane submitted to the MP should comply with and can be tested against.
I am thinking here of basic points like complete compatibility woth SimConnect key bindings so add on equipment can work.
Basic stats about FPS. etc.
So it isnt easy. I am wondering whether as a community we can come to a reasonable set of criteria developers can be judged by and if the product fails in a certain way then a refund request and consequently de-installation should be possible.
Yes, I know it is a hobby, but we are spending REAL money. There are now too many instances where purchases from the MP simply come up short.
Sure, none of this means that MS will take any notice but I believe time has come to have a friendly, constructive discussion about this and maybe even hammer out a procedure even MS can agree to hold developers to.

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I am afraid this thread is just a shout to the darkness but here we go with my suggestion:

How about a DCS-like policy of being able to try a product free of charge for a week (or so) before buying? I think after expiry it is possible to get another free week go after a half a year.

OK, now let’s not daydream:

I am OK with the current MSFS policy. I just stopped buying stuff immediately and wait for customer reviews instead.

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Or how about some standards in the first place?
I should add probably that the ultimate objective of the exercise would be that the quality of the products improve thus that we do not require a refund policy.
But my point is to have such a policy it is necessary to set standards. This in itself would at the moment seem to be a huge step forward.
Country flags upside down. Really? time something was done.

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This is fine for you and I now follow the same policy, but if everybody did that then there would be no reviews and we wouldnt be any step further.
This isnt a solution in the long run.

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AFAIK, (MSFS) marketplace products are classified as ‘consumables’. Once downloaded, they are considered consumed! And consumed goods cannot be refunded! Any refund will only be made as a gesture of goodwill!

Well ‘lawful’ and ‘legal’ are two separate things that many (falsely) believe are inextricably linked. ‘Lawful’ often has no legal precedent and only really binds by conscience.

I’m lucky to live in the UK, where consumer laws are among the world’s best. But if a product is defective or not as advertised, it’s irrelevant whether or not it’s considered a consumable. The law is based on reasonable expectation - irrefutably, it is reasonable to expect a product advertised for Xbox, for example, to work on that platform. If it frequently crashes your system, it’s not fit for purpose as one could ‘reasonably expect’ to be able to perform successful flights at least 50% of the time.

Pointing the finger at the dev doesn’t wash here because the contract is between seller (in this case, Microsoft) and buyer. The seller assumes all responsibility for the quality and functionality of the product.

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You can actually request refunds on Marketplace items. I’ve done it 2 or 3 times over the past couple of years. Although the way Microsoft set up the store is weird, you don’t actually directly buy the item in the store you buy ‘Flightsim Credits’ and then they use that to process the order.

Anyway to request you log into your account on support.xbox.com then go to the subscriptions and billing section, then expand the billing and payments section and click on ‘request a refund for digital games’. It’ll then show you a list of stuff you’ve bought, although as I mentioned earlier it’ll be in the form of FlightSim Credits. So you figure out what the actual purchase is and click the little checkmark box next to the item and click on ‘request a refund’ at the bottom. Fill out why you want a refund and they’ll get back to you usually later in the day but it can take a day or two and let you know. I think they have a policy of issuing a refund or two a year without much hassle but if you request more then they might actually start poking their noses into things.

Should say this worked for me in the UK, might be different in other countries, or might not exist at all if you have sod-all customer protection rights.

Also there’s a weird side effect to the stupid ‘FlightSim Credit’ system they’ve set up where xbox support doesn’t actually know what the heck you’ve bought apart from some FlightSim credits. So you get your refund for your credits but they won’t remove the plane or scenery or whatever from your account as I don’t think they can or know how to. :eyes:

This has been discussed numerous times here, and it seems clear that any kind of “free trial period” or global refund process isn’t going to happen. Now I would LOVE it if everyone on this thread were able to come back here in a few months and tell me I was wrong, but it ain’t gonna happen. No matter what developers were able to do, someone would figure out a way around the temporary restriction. But if that’s not enough, I’m sure some developers out there love the fact that these downloads are considered consumables and you can’t get a refund (emphasis on some).

Many have said it before, and more will say it in the future - we need comments added to the ratings systems so if you want to rate something low or high, at least other potential buyers will know the reasons and decide to purchase the product or move on.

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But the bigger question here is, who determines the standards? My standards as an intermediate casual commercial pilot simmer may be completely different from another who’s a more serious simmer and expects a different level of quality standards from the aircraft. Another person who is a GA simmer may have a different standard on what to expect from a good aircraft.

Different aircraft and different projects also have different scope and level of depth depending on their capability and budget. Who determines those standards as well?

And even if we have those set standards, can you be certain that everyone else agrees with them?

Do we ban and delete FlyByWire A32NX because it’s not at the same standards as Fenix A320? Do we ban Fenix A320 because it doesn’t pass the performance standards across different machines?

I’ve heard this before but, immediately following the processing of my so far three refunds, the items in question respectively disappeared from my content manager. They also then didn’t show as ‘owned’ in the Marketplace.

As pointed out elsewhere, according to UK Consumer Protection Law, this makes no difference. That Law in the UK actually specifically mentions that it also applies to online sales and items of purely digital content.

But maybe the focus should be on making refunds unnecessary by improving quality.
I note that MS has no problem having volunteers moderating forums.
Would it be so difficult to put together testing panels who would test products before they are offered on the MP?
There could be testers who test for particular categories such as Fighters, Airliners, Piston etc.They would be anonymous from the other users but test against specific laid down basic criteria.
Like SimConnect key bindings, flag images, gear operation, etc. So factual and functual testing rather than mere opinion.
It would considerably improve quality without putting a burden on MS resources.

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Kinda weird how it varies a lot. I still have the three things I got refunds for littering my content manager, not even installed just sat there asking me to redownload them.

The basic standards I am referring to are really basic. I have quoted for example SimConnect mapping.
This is basic and simple. Does the gear work. Does the AP work. Do the lights work etc.
It is shameful in a way that one has to ask for this but lets face it, we are sometimes paying for stuff that simply doesnt work so nobody is testing and checking before they take our money.
Very basics. I am not advocating indepth research but simple basics.
Clearly we cant rely on the testing from the Devs as they obviously think the plane is fine as the have submitted it.
The testing procedures from MS (Assuming there are some as I read somewhere that they plan to make the Devs responsible for testing) well so we cant rely on MS testing either.
So it is basics. Are the flag logos the right way round and not upside down? that kind of stuff.
The Aero has its flags upside down on one side. For heavens sake how basic does it have to get?
If we had a user testing panel this Aero would never have reached the MP nor would the DC3 and the ATR have the way they were released.
Testing is not deciding what should be allowed and what doesnt. Testing is about, ’ does it comply with some minimal basic requirements and does, what the Dev offers, actually work’.

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Nobody deletes. Testing by a panel should be madatory before something goes onto the market place.
I understand your question but you look too deeply. Installed equipment should work on that particular plane as intended. But standards have to be agreed. The AP should work correctly for example.
Can I set altitude and VS if fitted?
In real life the aerospace industry seems to be able to agree on some basic standards. I am sure we can get some agreement on some in this simulator.
And yes, if someone launches a flying donut, if you can fly it then it passes the test. Basics.

I think allowing the community to basically test a very respectfully priced aircraft isn’t such a bad idea. We came, we saw, we complained… and it got fixed. Sure, it would have saved a lot of hassle had it been released as it is now but the amount of testing required to identify all the issues would surely have been an insurmountable task for the dev? As long as we have their word that they’ll fix what needs fixing, I’m fine with being a guinea-pig.

What isn’t fine, however, is the dev who’s basically playing the system to almost con people into buying sub-par products. I’m on Xbox and some of the products I’ve bought (and subsequently had refunded), I really do have to wonder who’s actually tested them and how!

The measure of a reliable dev, in my opinion, isn’t one who submits a perfect aircraft or scenery — it’s one who can take onboard criticism and fix a broken product in a timely fashion. Those who want to ultimately get it right for the customer have my respect. And let’s face it, no one gets it right first time in this game, because if they did… endless streams of patches and updates wouldn’t exist.

I do think MS needs to get on top of the MP. It’s their name on the line. Making rules pertaining to devs testing their own products is immaterial, because the respectable, renowned devs will do this anyway; whereas the poor ones will never have the slightest intention and will just keep deceitfully ‘claiming’ their stuff is fine.

None of this really affects me in the UK but I do feel for those who are unable to be reimbursed for poor products, essentially sold under false pretences — and ostensibly supported by MS.

Which is why I think a free trial period should be mandatory for marketplace contents to let the community themselves to set standards that they want. Any developer who wants to sell their product on the marketplace it would have to be a free 7-day trial.

So a new content is published it becomes a free-7 day trial. Users can just click it to unlock the content and it’ll get installed with an encrypted due date of 7 days after it’s claimed. After that users can just test them in any way they want. If they feel it’s good enough, then they can go ahead with the purchase to unlock it permanently.

Otherwise, if they don’t think it’s worth enough to buy them, just let the timer expire and it’ll automatically lock itself and the content removed. If the users want to use it again, they would have to pay the full price immediately.

The exception is when the developer pushes an update. Any update would reset the trial timer, making it available again for 7 days for the users to test the new version.

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Yes I see how this could work. It might be open to abuse by people who would make it a habit to fly different planes every week without paying. Simply get a new one every week. Technically it would also be more difficult to implement as you would need to consider if you allow people to download the same plane or whatever again, or whether the rule would be a second time download would be an immediate purchase.
It would also require software changes to MSFS itself which would have to be bullet proof as some clever idiot might figure out a mod to continually reset the initial download date to current date thus never reaching the expiry date. So to counter this the expiry date needs to be held by central MS system rather then on the user equipment.
Just some immediate thoughts, but as a general principal I like it. It would also allow for people to simply ‘not like’ a plane or scenery and decide not to buy.
The more I think about this the more I believe it may be the correct way forward.

  1. Why would flying different planes every week without paying to be considered an abuse? I mean, they’re going to fly a different plane anyway. And that doesn’t guarantee them enjoying flying a different plane all the time. And once the trial period expires, they can’t fly the same plane again. Eventually, they’re going to run out of planes in the end to try freely. If it’s just about flying a plane, we already have the default packaged airplane and a lot of freeware out there. So I just don’t understand the logic of getting the free trial to fly an airplane and change every week. Once the trial period for the airplane expires, the aircraft locks and the content manager deletes the aircraft the next time they exit the sim. If the user wants to fly the aircraft again, they have to purchase it immediately and the content manager would redownload them and they can use the aircraft permanently.

  2. Mods won’t work because the marketplace content is encrypted and locked to your Microsoft/Xbox cloud account. You can change your PC system date all you want, the marketplace will always use the server time and your content trial start date. And without internet connection to validate this process, you can’t use the trial content and the clock still ticking. So to answer this part of your question, nothing is stored in the user equipment for free trial contents other than the content package themselves, but they’re encrypted and the decryption keys are given based on the communication and validation process between your Microsoft/Xbox account and the cloud service.

This 100%

For me personally, that would solve everything. I’ve said this repeatedly, but if I had an hour or two to try an aircraft before I buy it, I’d be willing to make a lot more purchases.

You just set limitations. One trial per item. No more than 10 trials per month.
For aircraft specifically, trial periods may be limited to an hour or two at the most. Locked into one specific airport, with basic, clear weather, and a limited range on how far you can fly away from that airport. There are definitely ways to allow a fair trial period in a controlled environment.

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I think this would make it unrealistic and too much of a “controlled environment” thing. For an effective and true trial and testing, the aircraft needs to work at an accepted level of quality across different situation as if what the user would use it on their day to day use. And different user would use and fly the aircraft in completely different location and under different conditions with different level of expectations.

Locking it on a certain specific airport with basic clear weather doesn’t reflect the actual use of the aircraft and prone for developers to focus too much on getting the aircraft to work perfectly in that controlled environment so get a purchase, but may risk the aircraft to break on other conditions which is pretty much making the purchase a waste of money. (eg. the aircraft works perfectly in a clear weather, but the flight dynamic breaks on thunderstorm which can’t be tested in trial period).

Just a timed trial with an expiry date is enough.

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