Amazon Told to Reimburse Parents for the Dumb Stuff Kids Accidentally Buy in Apps

Kid on iPad

These days it's difficult to spot a child who doesn't own a phone or some other technological gadget. Regardless of what device he or she is using, there's a possibility that your kiddo is shopping on your dime for new "coins" or other miscellaneous purchases that can be made while playing games such as Pet Shop Story or Ice Age Village. And it's something parents are not pleased with. Well, Amazon learned this the hard way after a decision was made in favor of consumers, stating that people should be reimbursed by the company for these unauthorized charges.

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The claim, filed by the Federal Trade Commission in July 2014, accused Amazon of making it far too easy for children to run up a tab (in this case an estimated total of $86 million worth) while making purchases through these games. At the time of the claim, the FTC stated:

The complaint alleges that when Amazon introduced in-app charges to the Amazon App store in November 2011, there were no password requirements of any kind on in-app charges, including in kids' games and other apps that appeal to children.

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The US regulator initially requested to have the payout come in one full payment of $25.6 million, but US District Judge John Coughenour decided that this was "too high." The judge also agreed with Amazon that the FTC may not have considered "failed password attempts unrelated to unauthorized purchases by children." 

So the November 10 ruling resulted in the company's being ordered to reimburse parents over the course of the year, starting in early 2017. At this point Amazon will be forced to, as NBC put it, "set up a notice-and-claims process" to "alert parents of their eligibility for a refund." (The judge also struck down Amazon's request for gift card reimbursement for these purchases.)

While this probably totally sucks for Amazon, I have to say that from a consumer's POV this was necessary. As an adult I have a hard time myself fighting the temptation to purchase "Kim coins" on my mother's credit cards when I'm playing Kim Kardashian's game. I can't begin to imagine the temptation that children innocently face -- therefore, I'm sure this is an issue that occurs more often than not. 

And I am sure an unsuspecting parent who is completely in the dark about these purchases until the bill comes is, well, subject to a meltdown. 

More from CafeMom: Apple Agrees to Pay Back Millions to Parents Whose Kids Racked Up Charges

This lawsuit is actually not the first of its kind, as Google and Apple have already been reprimanded after similar lawsuits from the FTC back in 2014. But while these lawsuits (and increased password controls) suggest the end to these unauthorized charges on behalf of your children, it might still be a good idea to keep a lookout on your credit card bill -- because those coin purchases sure are tempting. 

 

Image via Yalana/iStock.com

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