One of the things that worries some people about digital distribution is that it can be quite difficult to get a refund.
Reasons for wanting a refund can vary from the game not working on your system for whatever reason -- even if your computer meets the minimum required specifications -- or simply not liking the game, or perhaps regretting a purchase made in error.
To date, many digital distribution services have adopted a rather hard-nosed approach to refund policies, with many such as the iOS App Store and Steam prominently noting that all sales are final, and that refunds will only be granted in exceptional circumstances -- such as the product being outright broken or unfit for purpose.
The reason for many of these rather restrictive policies is that it's difficult, if not impossible, to ask a consumer to "return" a digital product; once it's downloaded, there's nothing stopping them backing it up and making copies of it and even, in cases where digital rights management has been implemented, circumventing or cracking the DRM. In other words, there's nothing to stop unscrupulous users from claiming a refund on the grounds a game "didn't work," getting their money back and then happily continuing to play it for free.
Today, digital distributor GOG.com -- a storefront that already takes great pride in offering its whole catalog DRM-free -- has announced a new worldwide money-back guarantee. It's a policy that aims to protect prospective purchasers from being burned by games that they just can't get working, or from purchases made in error. It's also intended to help customers feel more confident in purchasing from GOG.com, which broadened its remit a while back from "Good Old Games" to a combination of retro and more recent titles from independent developers and GOG.com's parent company CD Projekt.
The refund policy has two parts. Firstly, a 30-day guarantee protects you against purchasing things that simply don't work despite your best efforts. If you want to take advantage of this, you'll need to contact GOG.com's customer support and allow them to help you fix the problem. If their attempts are unsuccessful, you get your money back; if they are successful, well, you get to play the game you bought! The policy also covers DLC, but does not cover games that don't work because the purchaser's computer doesn't meet the minimum required system specifications.
The second part of the policy runs for 14 days after a purchase, and allows you to get a refund on something you haven't yet downloaded. This covers you if you bought a game by mistake, or changed your mind about a purchase. Note that it doesn't cover you if you downloaded something and discover after playing for a while that you don't like it; in that instance, you're stuck with it.
Although the policy was introduced today, it extends back 30 days, so if you bought something within the last month and can't get it to work, you can now contact GOG.com's support and try to resolve the issue or get a refund.
Full details on the new guarantee can be found here. Now go forth and buy with confidence -- hopefully other digital distributors will follow GOG.com's good example here and follow suit in the near future.