I realize that there are a number of our readers who have children and, as any parent knows, there is an abundance of financial burdens that you must take on. From food, clothing, general maintenance such as soap, toothbrushes, special flavored toothpaste, haircuts, doctor visits, school supplies, school fees, the list goes on and on. Sadly, this is the most BASIC and broad strokes version of a parental expenses list, not taking into account the many surprise expenses that pop up and, of course, the big ticket days such as Birthdays and Christmas. But with the recent boom in technology, there has been a new private expense that a lot of parents have been completely blindsided by, and I, of course, am referring to “In-App Purchases”. These are basically ploy’s that games and advertisers use to supplement their free services that they offer, for example, the game “Candy Crush.” Now the game itself to download and play is free however, there are numerous ways that the company tries to get money out of you, the most prevalent of which is purchasing lives, coins, gold bars, etc. Anything that can be used to either extend or enhance the player’s experience is pretty much for sale, and this is the case for many other free-to-play games that are offered in varied app stores. While there is nothing wrong with a business attempting to maintain their income, it soon became a very common problem of people’s children taking advantage of these in-app purchases without the parent’s knowledge or discretion which could lead to some pretty heavy phone bill charges. Or if the parent had their debit/credit card linked to their provided cell phone account, the charges could be applied directly to their bank account. Either way, people were looking at a long line of payments for something they had no idea about until it was too late. Recently, the big three app stores (Google Play, Apple, and Amazon) just put procedures into place that make it a requirement to put a password in before in-app purchases can be verified, which should provide a bit more ease when allowing your kids to play games on your phone as they consistently ask to do.
Amazon, the latter of the big three just recently received a judgment in court stating
that they are responsible for reimbursing their customers who are victims of these accidental in-app purchases. In 2014 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Amazon, claiming that it should not be so easy for children to access and confirm in-app purchases. This, along with similar cases taken against both Apple and Google, is what lead to the aforementioned requirement of inputting a password before any in-app purchases can be confirmed. A US District Judge held Amazon liable last year; however, the FTC’s request for a $26.5 Million penalty was deemed far too excessive and was denied. Amazon made a plea in an attempt to use personalized gift cards as a means of reimbursement but the judge denied this plea also, instead stating that Amazon must not only reimburse their customers with actual currency but, they also must reach out to people who have suffered these accidental expenses and inform them of what must be done in order to make their claim for repayment. So any of our readers out there who have unfortunately fallen victim to their children making unsanctioned purchases, there is good news and the path to getting your money back has just gotten a little easier to navigate!