by: Charles Elmore, Palm Beach Post
The Seattle-based online retailer Amazon, accused of unlawfully billing parents for more than $70 million in purchases by game-playing children, has settled a case with federal regulators, and refunds are available.
The deadline for submitting refund requests is May 28, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.
The charges were made between November 2011 and May 2016, officials said.
Amazon has offered many children’s apps for download to mobile devices such as the Kindle Fire, the FTC said. Children playing games such as “Ice Age Village” could spend unlimited amounts of money to pay for virtual items such as “coins,” “stars” and “acorns” without sufficient parental consent, federal officials said in a 2014 complaint.
“Even Amazon’s own employees recognized the serious problem its process created,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in 2014.
The FTC and Amazon agreed last month to end their litigation.
“Since the launch of the Appstore in 2011, Amazon has helped parents prevent purchases made without their permission by offering access to parental controls, clear notice of in-app purchasing, real-time notification for every in-app purchase and refund assistance for unauthorized purchases,” an Amazon spokesman said Tuesday. “The court here affirmed our commitment to customers when it ruled no changes to current Appstore practices were required.
“To continue ensuring a great customer experience, we are happy to provide our customers what we have always provided: refunds for purchases they did not approve. We have contacted all eligible customers who have not already received a refund for unauthorized charges to help ensure their refunds are confirmed quickly.”
The FTC said refund requests can be completed online at https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/refund-orders/in-apprefund.
Customers can go to their Amazon.com accounts and go to the Message Center to find information about requesting a refund under Important Messages. Questions about individual refunds should be directed to Amazon at 866-216-1072, the FTC said.