If Your Kids Made In-App Purchases, Amazon’s Been Ordered To Pay You Back

by Valerie Williams
Image via Shutterstock

Amazon will pay back parents for unauthorized in-app purchases made by their kids

Kids are brilliant little creatures and often, we don’t give them enough credit for their ability to beat the system. One such example of their genius is the way our digital age babies manage to circumvent any and all safeguards in order to download and purchase things they shouldn’t. Thankfully, Amazon is being forced to cut parents a little slack.

That’s right. Amazon is going to right some wrongs at the behest of a federal judge’s ruling. The online retail giant is going to reimburse parents for in-app purchases made by their children through a process-and-claims program beginning in January 2017. According to NBC News, the Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon in 2014 on the grounds that it was too easy for kids to figure out how to spend their parents’ money through in-app purchases made on mobile devices. The ruling cites apps such as “Pet Shop Story” and “Ice Age Village” that resulted in an estimated $86 million in sneaky, unauthorized charges.

Holy shit. That’s not chump change.

Originally, the FTC asked for Amazon to pay out a lump sum of $26.5 million in damages, but instead, the judge is forcing them to let parents know if they’re eligible for repayment through the upcoming process-and-claims system and if so, to reimburse them.

Amazon is not the first company to receive this kind of ruling with both Apple Inc. and Google facing similar charges in the past. Now, those companies, and Amazon, require a password for in-app purchases.

Amazon requested to reimburse parents with Amazon gift cards, but the judge denied them. They’ll have to refund customers’ credit cards in order to comply with the ruling.

For parents, this is ridiculously good news. Sure, you could say we should’ve been more careful, but the fact is, in-app purchases can be tricky and kids are pretty damn smart. Any technology they have access to is mastered a lot faster than we can imagine. I didn’t have a smart phone when my children were toddlers, but at age six, my son was taught by a kid on the bus (ugh) how to spell “sex” and that was enough for him to get into our on-demand programming and find the porn version of the Grammy Awards. It was horrifying, but it taught my husband and I that we had to be a lot more vigilant with our children and technology.

But once again, it’s hard to stay on top of all of it. Parents can use all the help we can get.

That’s why it’s not only more than fair, it’s necessary for companies like Amazon to be held accountable when they make it too easy for kids to get the best of us. We should be able to wander Target in a daze without worrying that the toddler sitting in the cart playing with our phone is going to spend that month’s mortgage payment on Angry Birds in-app purchases. It’s totally reasonable to give parents a break as technology is always updating and changing. A momentary lapse in supervision shouldn’t punish us to the tune of hundreds of dollars.

And hello, Amazon. If we have all those extra dollars back, we will probably still spend them with you. Because God bless Prime.