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Google Pay accidentally handed out free money, bug now fixed

Days ago, several Google Pay users in the US received some unexpected cashback from Google, congratulating them “for dogfooding the Google Pay Remittance experience”. Confused (and a tad happy), some looked to Twitter for answers, while others aired their experiences on the /r/googlepay/ Reddit page.

Freelance journalist Mishaal Rahman was one of the many recipients of free money. He got $46 in “rewards” from the app, while someone else got six rewards of almost $100 each.

“Open GPay, swipe to the ‘Deals’ tab, and see if you have any ‘rewards’ near the top. That’s where I’m seeing this,” Rahman tweeted. “I suspect this is an error, so that money is just gonna sit in my account for now lol.”

Not every Google Pay user received this welcome surprise, though.

Wait. Dogfooding?

Dogfooding is an IT slang that means using one’s own product. By this definition, these messages and cashback rewards seemed intended for individuals working in Google or testing partners. Yet none of the recipients were either.

“It appears to be an unintended early launch, presumably it has something to do with the new price guarantee for flights,” replied a moderator to the threat on the said Google Pay Reddit page. “Nothing to be worried about.”

The price guarantee the moderator referred to is a pilot program within Google Flights, Google’s online flight booking service. This program aims to pay back Flights users the difference, which must be greater than $5, between the flight price upon booking and the lowest ticket price via Google Pay.

This explanation sounds plausible. However, Google neither confirmed nor denied this to be the reason for the hiccup.

In a follow-up to Rahman and the many recipients of the cashback reward, the Google Pay team said the cash they received was unintended. The team also reversed the credit and reassured them no further action was required.

And, yes, if wrongfully rewarded users already transferred or spent the money they received, it’s theirs to keep, the team said.

The email Rahman received from the Google Play team, telling him the free money he received was a mistake. (Source: 

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Jovi Umawing

Knows a bit about everything and a lot about several somethings. Writes about those somethings, usually in long-form.