Apple lays out iOS in-app purchase settlement: full refunds and iTunes credits

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple appears to have finalized the details of its settlement agreement for a class action suit over in-app purchases on iPhones and iPads, with the Cupertino company offering millions of dollars in refunds and iTunes credits.

in-app


A home page for the settlement program went live recently, laying out the options available for claimants in the class action suit over Apple's in-app purchase policies. That suit, filed in 2011, alleged that Apple's structure for processing in-app purchases was insufficient to stop minors from charging tens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars to their parents' accounts without permission.

Under the settlement agreement, Apple will provide a single $5 iTunes Store credit to claimants in the suit or a credit "equal to the total amount of Game Currency that a minor charged to your iTunes account without your knowledge or permission within a single forty-five day period." For claimants that no longer have an active iTunes account, a cash refund is available, as is the case for those whose claims exceed $30 in total.

All United States residents are eligible for an award from the settlement, provided that, prior to May 2, 2013, they paid for an in-app purchase in a qualified app. The purchase must have been charged to their iTunes account by a minor without their knowledge or permission. The deadline to submit a claim is January 13, 2014, and the deadline to object to or opt out of the settlement is August 30, 2013.

In-app purchases stepped into the spotlight over the last few years as developers looked for a way to further monetize their apps. As the option became more popular, complaints arose that it was too easy for children to rack up sizable charges on their parents' accounts.

Apple already had some protections in place to stop minors from abusing in-app purchases, but the company was forced by the attention from several cases to modify its iTunes Store listings in order to warn users which apps featured additional paid content. The company has since stepped up its educational efforts in order to bring parents up to speed on what they can do to head off unwanted expenditures.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    brutus009brutus009 Posts: 356member


    Idiot parents are idiots.  I honestly feel no sympathy for these people.

  • Reply 2 of 28
    Fandroids are having a blast talking about this. Stupid parents make a mistake and Apple is responsible.

    Meanwhile, when Android users get malware it's the users fault for being so stupid to get themselves infected. Oh the irony.
  • Reply 3 of 28
    I agree...my kids use my phone all the time and have never charged anything because they'd need to know the password, which they don't. If parents don't protect their devices, that's their own fault. It's a shame companies have to pay people who don't deserve to be paid.
  • Reply 4 of 28
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    $1.99 to remove ads? I buy that.
  • Reply 5 of 28
    There is no substitute for good parenting. I have 3 kids ages 10, 9 and 9. They have always had access to my account (we use 1 account as a family) and have always known the password. My wife and I taught them at an early age that they need to ask permission to download anything even if it is free. We turned off in app purchases on their devices just to be safe. We also educated them on in app purchases as they often use our devices which do not have the in app purchases turned off. It is not that difficult to be involved parents.
  • Reply 6 of 28
    geekdadgeekdad Posts: 1,131member


    My 5 year old is trained to not buy anything on my iPad. He knows he will lose iPad privileges...


    Are there some in app purchases that do not require a Apple ID password? I also feel that if he does buy something then I am responsible....

  • Reply 7 of 28
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by geekdad View Post


    My 5 year old is trained to not buy anything on my iPad. He knows he will lose iPad privileges...


    Are there some in app purchases that do not require a Apple ID password? I also feel that if he does buy something then I am responsible....

     

    Before Apple changed things in response to complaints, yes it was possible to make in app purchases without a password. Your iDevice would remember the password after the first time you used it and would not ask for it again for future purchase, in app or otherwise.
  • Reply 8 of 28
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post


     

    Before Apple changed things in response to complaints, yes it was possible to make in app purchases without a password. Your iDevice would remember the password after the first time you used it and would not ask for it again for future purchase, in app or otherwise.


    This.


     


    Some of you posters need to educate yourself on why this lawsuit happened- and why Apple subsequently settled.  My kid never bought anything, but let's not pretend that everyone hasn't let them play a game where you weren't watching every single second.


     


    Every time along the journey this story has been posted, there are always a dozen or so people who hop on and blame the parents.  Then once the other posters get on and educate them on what happened and why- they always change their opinion.

  • Reply 9 of 28
    nchianchia Posts: 122member
    You just have to accept stupid are rewarded to stay stupid.

    Having said that, why wouldn't Apple figure out a way to make In-App Purchases as an option turned off as a default?
  • Reply 10 of 28
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nicholas_hagen View Post



    I agree...my kids use my phone all the time and have never charged anything because they'd need to know the password, which they don't. If parents don't protect their devices, that's their own fault. It's a shame companies have to pay people who don't deserve to be paid.


     


    I think the other extremely guilty party here that's getting off scott free are the game makers themselves.  


     


    A great many of the apps in question, in fact most of them, are specifically designed to fool children into buying in-app purchases and have prices on those items in the "amazingly ridiculous" range.  These are to some degree purpose-built scams, and it's only Apple's parental controls that allows them to exist in the first place.  


     


    If there were no parental controls, these would be basically illegal, scammy things that would be banned from any normal marketplace.  The fact that you *can* protect yourself by turning on parental controls is the only thing that makes them not criminal.  


     


    Personally, I don't think any decent parent would have any problem with this sort of thing, but I also think that Apple should really disallow such apps in the first place.  They only don't because of the bad PR they would get for doing it ("arbitraryness" etc.).  "Freemium" is rapidly becoming the most popular model in the store, and the majority of "freemium" apps are scammy, disgusting things.  


     


    If it was up to me I'd at least have a rule that the cost of in-game items cannot exceed some fraction of the cost of the game itself, or some arbitrary low number like $1.99 if the game is completely free.  Some of these folks got taken in by apps that are free (or $.99), but that have in-game purchases of $50.00, $100.00 or even a thousand.  

  • Reply 11 of 28
    iaeeniaeen Posts: 588member
    geekdad wrote: »
    My 5 year old is trained to not buy anything on my iPad. He knows he will lose iPad privileges...
    Are there some in app purchases that do not require a Apple ID password? I also feel that if he does buy something then I am responsible....

    In earlier versions of iOS it was set up so that after you entered your password the account would remain unlocked for something like 5 to 15 minutes. It hasn't been like that for a while now, but still it did exist.

    The argument goes that parents would enter the password to download a free game, hand the device back to their children, and the child would then have time to buy whatever he/she wanted before the account locked back up. To be honest, I have difficulty seeing a child reacking up hundreds (nevermind thousands) of dollers in purchases this way. I strongly suspect that the problem was primarily with parents being too lazy to type the password in for their children, so they ended up giving it to them.
  • Reply 12 of 28
    joe43joe43 Posts: 1member


    We live in a world where their are people like you who don't want to take responsibility for your actions. Its simple turn off in app purchases. I have turned them off for me and good thing because I have accidentally hit a purchase many times. So take responsibility.

  • Reply 13 of 28
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by brutus009 View Post


    Idiot parents are idiots.  I honestly feel no sympathy for these people.



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post



    Stupid parents make a mistake and Apple is responsible.

     


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nicholas_hagen View Post



    I agree...my kids use my phone all the time and have never charged anything because they'd need to know the password, which they don't.


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TechProd1gy View Post



    There is no substitute for good parenting.



     


    Quote:


    Originally Posted by geekdad View Post


    My 5 year old is trained to not buy anything on my iPad. He knows he will lose iPad privileges...



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by broadbean View Post



    You just have to accept stupid are rewarded to stay stupid.


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by joe43 View Post


    So take responsibility.



     


     


    Again- educate yourselves.  Please.  I, too, feel like I'm the father of the year- much like all of you.  My kid hasn't ever downloaded an in-game app ever.  But that doesn't mean I don't understand the situation.


     


     


    Jrag said it best in the previous thread:




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post







    I really wish people would read the story before commenting. I know that's a lot to ask.



    The affected parents did not give their password or PIN to their kids. Rather, the problem was due to the fact that the password remains active for 15 minutes after you enter it. So if you download an app for your kids and then hand them the phone, it allows purchases without the kid having to enter the password for 15 minutes.



    There is a setting that allows you to eliminate that time delay and require the password to be re-entered immediately. That should have been set to 'immediate' by default. On a consumer device, it should almost always default to 'most secure' and allow the user to make it less secure if they wish.



    In this case, I think the parents have a good point.






    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    Not everyone knows all the rules. Since a large fraction of users are inexperienced, it's incumbent on them to default to the safe setting.


     





     




    Read that and educate yourself first before you just "give an opinion"

  • Reply 14 of 28
    geekdadgeekdad Posts: 1,131member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by iaeen View Post





    In earlier versions of iOS it was set up so that after you entered your password the account would remain unlocked for something like 5 to 15 minutes. It hasn't been like that for a while now, but still it did exist.



    The argument goes that parents would enter the password to download a free game, hand the device back to their children, and the child would then have time to buy whatever he/she wanted before the account locked back up. To be honest, I have difficulty seeing a child reacking up hundreds (nevermind thousands) of dollers in purchases this way. I strongly suspect that the problem was primarily with parents being too lazy to type the password in for their children, so they ended up giving it to them.


    I agree with you on the password problem. I could see it being so much easier to just give my son the password. But it is my account and I am responsible for it.

  • Reply 15 of 28
    jax44jax44 Posts: 78member
    There used to be a 15 minute window after initial app purchase. There was the problem
  • Reply 16 of 28
    geekdadgeekdad Posts: 1,131member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Andysol View Post


     


     


     


     


     


     


     


    Again- educate yourselves.  Please.  I, too, feel like I'm the father of the year- much like all of you.  My kid hasn't ever downloaded an in-game app ever.  But that doesn't mean I don't understand the situation.


     


     


    Jrag said it best in the previous thread:




     


    Read that and educate yourself first before you just "give an opinion"



    Read my comments again..........I trained my 5 year old NOT to buy anything. So regardless of the password timeout issues...before you give your children access to something that has this capability ...training and parental oversight is still needed. We are all here to give our opinions......

  • Reply 17 of 28
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by iaeen View Post





    To be honest, I have difficulty seeing a child reacking up hundreds (nevermind thousands) of dollers in purchases this way. I strongly suspect that the problem was primarily with parents being too lazy to type the password in for their children, so they ended up giving it to them.


    That post I linked earlier has my favorite exchange of all time on this forum between KDarling and hill60.  I've never seen an internet "drumming" like that before.  :)


     


    (For the record- both KDarling and allenbf had $250+ charges).

  • Reply 18 of 28
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by geekdad View Post


    Read my comments again..........I trained my 5 year old NOT to buy anything. So regardless of the password timeout issues...before you give your children access to something that has this capability ...training and parental oversight is still needed. We are all here to give our opinions......



    geek- I like you- you're my AI buddy.  Opinions are fine, but they should also be dismissed completely if they don't have facts to back them up.  Yes- you train your kid not to buy anything.  5 years old is a good age to understand that concept.  But how many 3-4 year olds can read "Do you want to remove ads for $1.99"?  They just know they should hit the bright button to get that pop-up off.


     


    More importantly- you're basing your opinion on the fact that you had the knowledge of a 15 minute password timeout the day you bought your iPad.  Let's say that's true- you knew that day one.  How many people are like you with that knowledge?  1%?  Maybe?  Some responsibility should be passed onto the device maker who made lax rules instead of making the more secure option the default.

  • Reply 19 of 28
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,116member
    Wow, this is an extremely generous settlement.
  • Reply 20 of 28
    Once again society/parents not taking the blame for their own kids actions, or "lack of parenting". It' all that simple folks.....kids know right from wrong if taught from the beginning....this is why our society is deteriorating, it's all about blaming someone else for our actions. Step up to the plate parents and be an actual parent for goodness sakes.
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