Apple Owes Your Mom Some Money

Apple to owe millions due to a recent ruling about minor's purchasing in-game content.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Apple must refund parents for in-app purchases made by their kids. Apple's set to give back $32.5 million to parents' bank account. Thanks to a ruling on Wednesday, the FTC has forced Apple to refund thousands of these claims.

Micro-transactions in games are quite a common sight. What's meant as an extra revenue stream for the game studio, can sometimes comes at the cost of a person's monthly salary. Per CVG, one case in particular "a daughter ran up a $2,600 tab while playing Tap Pet Hotel."

Though that seems like an extreme case. The amount of money Apple's app store earned in 2013 alone was a whopping $10 Billion. Yup, that's right Billion, with a capital "B." Apple's response to the FTC's order about this issue was surprising. A spokesperson for Apple said:

"To us, it smacked of double jeopardy. However, the consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren't already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight."

My Thoughts

At the surface this seems fine, but what does that mean for all other micro-transactions? The implementation this ruling has, begs the question: "Why can't I just say my kid bought some downloadable content (DLC), without my consent?" Does that mean I get my money back via the Apple scenario?

Of course, there is a difference between mobile micro-transactions and DLC for a console/PC game - but even those games have micro-transactions sometimes. At what point do we discern what Apple's required to uphold, versus other digital distribution services?

As for now, I'm sure Apple is working on something to curb this from happening again. In the coming months it will be interesting to see how this affects other outlets that rely on micro-transactions and other DLC for profits.


Featured Correspondent

I'm a stay at home dad who writes about video games. I enjoy my family, video games, and music.

Published Jan. 16th 2014
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    My kids play games on their tablets that I purchase through the Amazon app store. I have in app purchasing disabled on their tablets so I have never been charged for anything while they are playing games.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    I do the same.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    I think this opens up for a bunch of problems but with most apps and services requiring a "card" be on file, it can result in "unauthorized" charges to occur. I think it's safe to use those prepaid credit cards and have those on file instead to avoid hits to the bank account.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    not a bad idea. I usually go buy a gift card for amazon or apple.... On the rare chance I'm buying something from either.
  • cassie_1443
    Honestly whats so goddamn hard about enabling password requirement before any purchases/download. I don't have kids but I have all my apple products set this way and it always asks for it when ever I do an in app purchase. People are so goddamn lazy, they shouldn't get their money back for their own stupidity.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    my son got a tablet and its all password protected. If you're authorizing it one time, you do have like 15 minute window to buy, buy, buy. So from that standpoint it's at least somewhat understandable.

    Though I've not once had that problem or anything like it.
  • Synzer
    Guide Editor
    What is this, I don't even.. how would they know it was a kid?
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    I've gotten confirmation emails editor that ask if the purchase was made in error. It's usually with the receipt emails.

    I imagine there's a claims like form you have fill out. But that still doesn't provide hard proof.

New Cache - article_comments_article_11419
Popular in the Community