Payment Method Matters In Google Play

Not sure how John Wick 2 became the movie of choice on Sunday, but that’s what was requested. I thought we owned it, 1 and 3 are part of our collection, but somehow this guy slipped through the cracks… No problem, I had some Google Play credit associated to my personal account, I’ll just buy it there and have it sync across to the account that is part of our Google Family on the Shield after confirming that it’s Eligible for family sharing.

As you’ve probably guessed, things did not go to plan on Sunday. But, I did learn something, so it’s not a total loss. Apparently, whether you can share something with your Google Family is a function of how you pay for it 🤯.

It’s just not really clear, which hoop you need to jump through to get it to work when clicking on the information button…

As it turns out, you need to use whatever payment method is configured as your Family Payment Method. Which I guess makes sense, sort of, in a designed by a programmer with no UX experience kind of way.

And to be clear, it’s fine that it works like that, I guess; even though it still seems crazy, but whatever. What I don’t understand is why they don’t come out and say that in the documentation? That I clicked on. This should be 100% clear, no ambiguity. Why should I have the opportunity to “hold it wrong”? Why should I have to play connect the dots when all I want to do is watch a movie? We are spoiled for choice when it comes to online content purchases, why is this difficult? If I’d bought the movie on Vudu, it would have just worked; because I’m logged into all our media devices using my Vudu account. And, it’s highly likely that it would have even synced over to our Play library because I have that setup in Vudu…

If you don’t want a title to show up in your Family Library, it’s easy to manage that. Slide this toggle to the left, and whatever content you don’t want your family to know that you bought, won’t be in their library. Done!

There is a happy ending here though. I was able to get in touch with someone at Google Play support, and she was great. They refunded the title, and I’ll give it another go now that I know the rules. But again, why does this friction exist? It doesn’t make me feel good about buying stuff from Google.

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Ken Stark
Ken Stark
2 months ago

Nice article to bring this requirement up. The Movies (Almost) Anywhere article I wrote here in 2018 didn’t mention this and then I figured it out when trying to share movies with family members via our shared Google Play account. I assume this is a limitation by the studios to prevent us from sharing movies between extended families that use different payment methods like we could via UltraViolet in the old days.