Apple Emails Parents: How to Get Refunds for Kids’ Unauthorized Purchases

Scanlon_Apple Refund Screenshot 1

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) got a message for anyone with in-App purchases. Check your account for any unauthorized purchases, fill out a form, and you may be entitled to a refund.

The technology company sent out emails to anyone with an Apple account who made in-App purchases. The move comes after Apple settled with the Federal Trade Commission, following a lawsuit that alleged the company made unauthorized downloads by minors too easy. The email responds to these claims.

“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.”

Apple was sued in 2011. That class action lawsuit alleged that the company’s previous 15-minute password-free window for downloads following a password-enabled download. Parents who downloaded an app (usually a game) for their children found that this could cause problems. As a part of the settlement of the class action lawsuit, Apple agreed to refund parents. The case was settled with Apple offering a $5 iTunes gift card for parents involved in the suit whose children had made $30 or more in unauthorized purchases. This email appears to be a further step in this agreement to settle the remaining refunds.

The email further outlines the steps to check purchase histories in iTunes and the App Store and to contact Apple for that refund via Apple Support. The deadline for those refund requests is April 15.

Since the lawsuit, Apple has closed that download window as the default setting, starting with a March 2011 software update. Users must put in a password before every download, even when they are minutes apart. The email also includes a link where users can change those settings to disable downloads entirely or make other download changes.

The news that Apple would begin to refund customers broke in January. An article by The New York Times quoted the FTC’s announcement that Apple would refund at least $32.5 million to its customers for those purchases in 2014. If Apple’s refunds total less than the amount set, the remainder goes to the government agency.

Apple isn’t the only company to get in trouble for unauthorized downloads and purchases by minors. Google was hit with a similar class action lawsuit weeks ago. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a New York mother whose sons purchased about $66 in game currency for a Marvel game she had downloaded on her tablet for their entertainment. Google has responded by closing the download window and releasing information on how to change download settings. The class action lawsuit against Google is still pending, but Apple’s previous class seems to set the precedent here.

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