Judge John Coughenour out of Seattle has ordered that online retail giant Amazon refund parents for purchases that their children made in app on Android and Kindle devices without their knowledge. The Judge ordered Amazon to start refunding parents over a 12 month period that will start January of next year.
The move is aligned with legal action that has already been taking by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). However, the FTC asked for $25.6 million to be refunded and the Judge stated that this amount was too large. He did not exactly side with Amazon either however rejecting their offer to refund customers via gift cards.
Amazon is just one of many platforms that offered the option for users to pay extra for content within music and gaming apps on their mobile devices. Parents did not like the new add-ons complaining that it was way too easy for children to buy extra content without their parents knowing. They also argued in the case of toddlers and other young children that it was too simple to make accidental purchases while using the apps.
In 2014 the FTC decided to take action to combat the fact that in-app charges did not require any type of password confirmations in kids’ games. It cited the example of an app in which the free acorns exchange screen looked the same as a screen in which kids purchased coins with real money. Therefore, children could easily make purchases without realizing they were spending real money.
Starting in 2014 Amazon started noting in its app store which apps had add-on purchases within the apps and also changed the confirmation process. Additionally, parents can now use the parental control options to disable purchases from being made within the app completely.
Amazon is not the only mobile device operator to be affected by the FTC lawsuit as Apple also has to pay customers over $30 million and Google is due to pay its customers another $19 million.