Amazon.com is being forced to refund parents whose children made purchases on the online retailer's mobile apps without their permission. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced earlier this week that the refunds could total more than $70 million. The settlement brings closure to a nearly three-year legal battle surrounding the issue of charges made between November 2011 and May 2015. Federal regulators filed a lawsuit in July 2014 accusing Amazon of charging parents for what’s known as “in-app purchases” — i.e., virtual items offered within mobile games. While entering a password linking an Amazon account to a new device, “a reasonable consumer unaware of the possibility of in-app purchases wouldn't assume she was authorizing unforeseen charges,” U.S. District Judge John Coughenour wrote in his order.
Total Retail’s Take: This investigation is the latest by the FTC into in-app purchases. Apple agreed to pay a $32.5 million settlement in 2014, and Google paid consumers $19 million for unauthorized in-app purchases. Amazon launched its app store in 2011, and since then has changed the in-app purchase interface and added more parental controls.