Google will refund over $19 million worth of in-app purchases to annoyed Android device users whose children ran up unauthorised in-app purchases.
Google has agreed to the whopping settlement, the US Federal Trade Commission announced, and will contact all Android customers who have made in-app purchases to advise how they can get a slice.
According to the FTC, Google Play did not require a password for in-app purchases when it launched in 2011, and Google did not inform consumers about the 30 minute no-password purchase window that occurs after users make purchases. Although this has since been remedied, that’s little comfort to those whose kids ran up huge bills in the meantime.
“As more Americans embrace mobile technology, it’s vital to remind companies that time-tested consumer protections still apply, including that consumers should not be charged for purchases they did not authorize,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement published on CNET.
This isn’t the first time a company has been hit with consequences over in-app purchases. Apple eventually agreed to pay out $32.5 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint. Amazon has also been hit with an FTC suit, but is fighting. (Interestingly, it’s believed that Apple dobbed Google into the FTC after it its own complaint was levelled.)
In-app purchases have come under legal scrutiny on both sides of the pond. When the European Commission ruled that games with in-app purchases weren’t really free-to-play in February this year, Google acted quickly to change its terminology while Apple is yet to comply. Hopefully a change in terminology with serve both consumers and companies and result in less of this sort of thing.