Amazon will refund parents for their kids' in-app spending sprees

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Following a three-year-battle with the Federal Trade Commission, Amazon has agreed to refund $70 million worth of in-app purchases made by children of unwitting customers.

These purchases have often involved gaming. The monetization model of the mobile gaming industry has relied heavily on getting users to pay real money for virtual amenities within their games. For children, the real-world implications of simply clicking a button to get that antidote or special skill set may well be too abstract for comprehension, causing them to spend without understanding the consequences. According to Parents.com, children will not typically understand that "it costs money to buy things, so you can't always get everything you want," until at least the age of 5.

The case against Amazon first began in 2014 when the FTC sued the tech giant over a lack of policies or protocols regulating kids' ability to make these purchases when using devices set up to their parents' accounts. The regulatory agency had pushed Apple to implement a refund program totaling over $32 million over similar concerns earlier that year.

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Despite Amazon's claims that it was unable to provide the kind of safeguards the FTC sought, a federal judge ruled against the company last year. The refund process was stalled, however, when the FTC was unable to get an injunction against Amazon to stop the problem from happening again in the future. Amazon had also appealed the court's ruling. The two parties then worked to mediate a solution independently.

"This case demonstrates what should be a bedrock principle for all companies — you must get customers' consent before you charge them," Thomas B. Pahl, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "Consumers affected by Amazon's practices can now be compensated for charges they didn't expect or authorize."

In-app purchases made by children between November 2011 and May 2016 will qualify, though Amazon has yet to release the exact details of the refund program.

The post Amazon Will Refund Parents For Their Kids' In-App Spending Sprees appeared first on Vocativ.

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