October 25, 2014

Google to refund consumers $19M in unauthorized in-app purchases

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You may recall quite some time ago when Google got in some trouble for violating a pretty hefty FTC complaint. The Federal Trade Commission launched a prohibition on unfair commercial practices by billing consumers for charges by children in kids’ apps. This was way back in 2011, and we’re finally getting to see the outcome of their mistake.

We all know what happens in children’s games: the app itself may be free to download, but once in the app, you can use real money to get further in the game. And in kids’ games, it isn’t their own money that they’re using… it’s their parents’. Well, Google is now required to give a minimum of $19M worth of refunds to consumers wrongfully charged (or charged by accident).

Since 2011, Google has done a few things to create a better system for IAPs. Aside from racking up tons of money in in-app purchases, there’s another way users were wrongfully charged for children accidentally purchasing apps. Before purchase a paid app, users must enter in their Google account password. However, there is a 30-minute window after the password is entered to purchase anything in the Play Store without re-entering the password.

Getting back to today, Google must contact consumers who have made in-app purchases to inform them of the refund process. The company is required to issue at least $19 million worth of refunds to consumers. If they refund less than the set cost within 12 months, Google is required to remit the remaining balance to the FTC to either help remedy consumer complaints, or to return the rest to the United States Treasury.

Source: FTC