Amazon has to pay for those apps your kids bought

Good news: you might be getting some cash from Amazon soon. Bad news: it might be because your kid blew hundreds of dollars on in-app purchases while playing with your Kindle Fire.

A federal judge today ruled that Amazon is liable for failing to warn consumers that free-to-play apps weren’t exactly free when users downloaded them.

See, free-to-play apps, like Candy Crush Saga are pretty much designed to get you to spend money by limiting what you can actually do without laying out some cash.

And that can be dangerous for children who don’t have any real concept of money.

One of the worst offenders was the Smurf’s Village app for Apple’s iOS, which let users purchase in-game berries for as much as $100 at a time. In one case that added up to $1,400 for one unlucky parent. Apple eventually refunded the money.

The judge’s ruling against Amazon is the result of a 2014 case the Federal Trade Commission filed claiming the company “unfairly” billed customers for in-app purchases their children made. In some cases, those charges were in the hundreds of dollars.

As it turns out, the judge agreed with the FTC and found Amazon liable.

Naturally, the FTC is pretty happy with the outcome. Amazon: not so much.

“We are pleased the federal judge found Amazon liable for unfairly billing consumers for unauthorized in-app purchases by children,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said. “We look forward to making a case for full refunds to consumers as a result of Amazon’s actions.“

So what happens next?

Well, the FTC hopes to get the judge to agree to hold Amazon responsible for paying back consumers who were wrongfully charged. Amazon, on the other hand, doesn’t.

This isn’t the first time the FTC went after the companies for these kinds of charges. The commission previously brought cases against Apple and Google for similar in-app purchases and won more than $50 million for impacted consumers.

The three tech companies have since updated the process by which consumers purchase apps through their respective app stores to prevent similar issues in the future.

But the real lesson here is pretty obvious: tell your kids to spend some time outside for once.

Leave a Reply