Kids love smartphones to play games and companies love to exploit them. Something similar happened when game developers lured kids into buying stuff while playing, without their parent’s consent. Amazon is now going to refund the money.
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Amazon is ready to refund lots of unauthorized in-app purchases made by kids on mobile devices. They have now dropped their last year appeal of a ruling made by a federal judge who agreed with the Federal Trade Commission in the lawsuit of their agency against Amazon. The FTC’s complaint said Amazon should be held responsible for money it charged from customers, because of the way Amazon’s Appstore was designed. It let kids spend unlimited money on games and other applications without needing parental consent. The FTC had dealt with Apple and Google on charges similar to this one in the past. The problem arose because of the way Amazon’s Appstore’s in-application purchasing system works. The Amazon Appstore is preloaded on mobile devices of Amazon. For instance, on Kindle Fire tablets. You can also download it on android devices though. The developers of kid’s game took advantage of some minor flaws and gaps. They made games which would only work if kids made some purchases like in game items. Kids bought the items without knowing what they have done. They needed those items to advance to the next levels. The Appstore which was launched back in 2011 did not need passwords for in-app purchases. This let kids buy coins and other items as many times as they wanted. One example is the game Ice Age Village. It had an in-app purchase worth $99.99. Amazon included password-protected in-app purchases in 2012, but only for those who purchased more than $20 worth of purchases. It updated the system in 2013 to activate password need, but it allowed a 15 minutes window in which no password was needed The FTC accused Amazon of not obtaining “informed consent”. Parents who complained weren’t guided about getting a refund. Some were even told a refund isn’t possible. FTC and Amazon have now mutually agreed to not appeal more. FTC also wants to make sure Amazon does not show this carelessness in the future. The court did not agree for this injunction. The refund process will now begin. Around $70 million in-app charges were made between 2011 and 2016. These consumers will now be able to get refunds. Let’s see how many actually come forward for refunds. Amazon has not laid out the details of how the program will work yet, but FTC says these details will be available shortly.
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