Apple has agreed to refund at least $32.5 million to parent’s affected by their children’s accidental in-app purchases.
After a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Apple will compensate affected consumers with at least a $32.5 million (£19.9 million) total compensation.
The refund will settle the long-standing complaints over in-app purchases made by children on iOS devices without their parents’ consent.
“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,” said FTC Chairwoman, Edith Ramirez. “You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorise.”
Accidental in-app purchases hit the news headlines last year after Apple failed to inform parents approval for one in-app purchase meant children could make additional unlimited purchases for the next 15 minutes without having to re-enter a password.
The FTC said Apple received over tens of thousands of complaints for the issue, with one woman claiming her daughter spent $2600 (£1590) in a single app.
Apple said it had agreed to the settlement to avoid a “long and distracting legal fight”, and consented to change its billing process by March 31 as required by the FTC.
“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,” said Tim Cook, Apple CEO to Apple employees in a letter obtained by 9to5mac.
“We wanted to reach every customer who might have been affected, so we sent emails to 28 million App Store customers – anyone who had made an in-app purchase in a game designed for kids. When some emails bounced we mailed the parents postcards.”
“In all, we received 37,000 claims and we will be reimbursing each one as promised.”
In-app content prices range from 99p all the way to £69.99, depending on the app. Angry Birds Go, the new downhill racer from Rovio, came under fire after it introduced microtransactions to its game series. Cars cost as much as £34.99, with prices not revealed until the user can tapped through to the purchase window.
Apple has already refunded many UK parents for accidental in-app purchases.
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