In January, Apple, Inc. reached a $32 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over in-app purchases made by children without the card holders’ consent. At the time, the company faced legal action on behalf of consumers who claimed that hundreds of dollars were being spent by children without parents’ knowledge, as apps did not require passwords to be reentered before a purchase could be made. It’s something Google is currently facing a lawsuit over, while both companies are being investigated by the European Commission. Well, good news came today - Apple is reaching out to consumers who might be affected by past app purchases with the following e-mail:
We’ve improved controls for parents so they can better manage their children’s purchases, or restrict them entirely.
Dear iTunes account owner,
Apple is committed to providing parents and kids with a great experience on the App Store. We review all app content before allowing it on our store, provide a wide range of age-appropriate content, and include parental controls in iOS to make it easy for parents to restrict or disable access to content.
We’ve heard from some customers that it was too easy for their kids to make in-app purchases. As a result, we’ve improved controls for parents so they can better manage their children’s purchases, or restrict them entirely. Additionally, we are offering refunds in certain cases.
Our records show that you made some in-app purchases, and if any of these were unauthorized purchases by a minor, you might be eligible for a refund from Apple.
Please follow the steps below to submit a refund request:
- Find your in-app purchase records. Check your email for iTunes receipts or use a computer to sign in to your iTunes account and view your Purchase History.
- Use this link to submit your refund request to Apple.
- Provide the requested information and enter “Refund for In-App Purchases made by a minor” in the Details section.
Apple will review your request and contact you via email about your refund status. All refund requests must be submitted no later than April 15, 2015.
If you have any questions or need further assistance with your refund request, please contact Apple.
To learn more about parental controls in iOS, please see this article.
It’s a good step, and the changes to the company’s policy do it credit. It’s heartening to see a company respond to customers’ genuine concerns – it’s just a shame it took $32 million to get here.