Any parent with a rambunctious child who may have at one point racked up a hefty bill on their Kindle or Android device can now breathe a sigh of relief. One, Jack Black has had it happen to him too, and two, Amazon will be refunding up to $70 million of in-app purchases made by children after downloading apps from the Amazon AppStore.
In 2016, a US federal court sided with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), agreeing that "Amazon failed to clearly inform parents that free apps may still include in-app purchases, and did not provide enough notice and password requirements to prevent unwanted charges." Amazon tried to appeal the charge, before deciding to settle with the FTC out of court. The FTC announced this decision Tuesday.
The FTC claims the refunds will come through "shortly." The refunds will have to actually come in the form of real money, as Amazon did try to sneakily refund customers in gift cards, but a judge deemed this a no-go.
The Amazon AppStore is the official source for apps on Kindle tablets, and it's available for download on Android devices.
Most of the downloads in this case were were through apps that seemed safe for children to play without supervision, given that the apps were free on the Amazon AppStore and marketed towards kids. The judge ruled that Amazon did not "seek parents' permission for purchases made" resulting in "unauthorized" purchases by children.
Amazon is not the first company to settle a suit over in-app purchases. 3 years ago, both Apple and Google settled with the FTC over the issue, and customers received a combined $51 million in refunds. You can see evidence of this on both Google Play and the iOS App Store, as apps with in-app purchases are now clearly marked as such.