Online retail behemoth Amazon settled an FTC case. Federal regulators charged Amazon with improperly billing parents for a cumulative $70 million, for purchases made by their children.
Amazon offers apps and games aimed at children. Unfortunately, some products didn’t have protections in place to prevent underage in-game purchases for virtual “stars” and “coins.”
The Amazon app issue first arose about five years ago. Circa 2014, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez raised the issue again. At the time she explained: “Even Amazon’s own employees recognized the serious problem its process created.” Another related event sparked in May 2016. But, in April 2017, Amazon and the FTC finally settled on an agreement.
Last Tuesday an Amazon spokesman explained:
“Since the launch of the Appstore in 2011, Amazon has helped parents prevent purchases made without their permission by offering access to parental controls, clear notice of in-app purchasing, real-time notification for every in-app purchase and refund assistance for unauthorized purchases. The court here affirmed our commitment to customers when it ruled no changes to current Appstore practices were required.
“To continue ensuring a great customer experience, we are happy to provide our customers what we have always provided: refunds for purchases they did not approve. We have contacted all eligible customers who have not already received a refund for unauthorized charges to help ensure their refunds are confirmed quickly.”
Amazon set up a Web page where affected parties can request refunds: https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/refund-orders/in-apprefund.
If you have an Amazon account, use the platform’s Message Center to find additional information about getting a refund. The FTC recommends that questions about specific refunds be directed to Amazon by phone at 866-216-1072.
The legal tussle between the FTC and Amazon is a reminder to developers and app companies to follow the guidelines enumerated in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
Kelly / Warner is a full-service law firm that helps entrepreneurs and businesses with digital and Internet law issues, in addition to FTC matters related to online sales and promotions.
Elmore, C. (2017, May 31). Amazon earned $70M unlawfully from kids, FTC said. Are you due a refund? Retrieved July 18, 2017, from http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/amazon-earned-70m-earned-unlawfully-from-kids-ftc-said-are-you-due-a-refund_/528400744