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Apple refunding money to parents whose children made in-app purchases

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a landmark judgement that will make Apple refund $32.5m (£19.9m). The agreement will settle a lot of longstanding complaints against the American firm that centre on in-app purchases made by kids who didn’t have their parent’s permission.

As part of the settlement Apple has been asked to change its billing process to make sure that the bill payer gives consent before purchases are made. In a statement Apple said that they had settled rather than face a “long legal fight”. In an internal Email to Apple workers, chief executive Tim Cook wrote: “The consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren't already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight."

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez explained the commission’s stance: “This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple's unfair billing, and a signal to the business community: whether you're doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply.”

The complaint said that Apple didn’t inform parents that entering a password to authorise a single in-app purchase also allowed for a 15 minute window within which further purchases could be made without additional consent. The complaint also said that the password prompt screen didn’t make it clear that entering the password would finalise the app purchase. FTC said that there were “tens of thousands of complaints” against the firm that all alleged the same thing. According to a news report, one parent said that her daughter spent $2,600 in one app without her authorisation.

The multi-million dollar refund only covers customers who bought through Apple’s American app storebut if your child’s bought through their UK store so you complain to Apple requesting a refund. The changes to the firm’s billing system don’t have to come into effect until 31 March according to the FTC.

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