Over the last few years, there have been plenty of horror stories going round of children being left unattended with smartphones or tablets and running up crazy charges on in-app purchases. Amazon was even taken to court over this particular issue, after the FTC received complaints from parents in the US. At the time, a Judge ruled in the FTC’s favour, which has now forced Amazon to set aside £56 million ($70 million) to pay back parents whose children ran up huge bills on in-app purchases.
Amazon was found guilty of illegally charging for in-app purchases back in 2016, with a judge concluding that the in-app purchases being made did not have proper authorisation. Amazon was found to have not been properly informing customers when they were making a purchase with real-world cash, rather than fake in-game currency.
During the FTC’s case against Amazon last year, the commission estimated that parents were charged around $70 million between November 2011 and May 2016. Those who faced huge bills around this time in the US could now be eligible for refunds. However, Amazon hasn’t nailed down all of the details surrounding its refund program just yet, so expect information on how to claim in a few weeks time.
It is not yet clear if Amazon will be providing similar refunds outside of the US but it seems unlikely given that this ruling only applies in the US.
KitGuru Says: One thing to bare in mind is that this case dates all of the way back to 2011, when App Stores and developers were a bit more vague about in-app purchases inside of ‘free’ apps. At this point, all of the proper warnings are in place, so a lawsuit like this theoretically shouldn’t happen again.