Apple settles suit over kids’ in-app purchases

February 26, 2013

Apple has settled with parents who sued the company for making it too easy for kids to rack up charges by buying add-ons to games and other apps.

Think twice before you plan a vacation with your settlement money, though. According to the court documents, posted in full on Monday by Apple Insider’s Mikey Campbell, the company is agreeing to give qualifying customers a $5 iTunes credit or, in certain cases, $5 in cash.

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr declined to comment on the settlement.

The company has always required users to enter their passwords when they download an app, but the company used to also allow them to make additional in-app purchases for 15 minutes without reentering a password.

As The Washington Post reported, parents complained that some children were able to accumulate hundreds of dollars in charges during that small window, drawing the scrutiny of state and federal regulators. The suit highlights children who spent between $99 and $300 on in-app purchases — charges that were then passed on to the credit card bills of their unsuspecting parents, the Apple Insider report said.

Apple changed the policy in March 2011 to require a password for purchases, even on newly downloaded apps.

Under the terms of the new settlement, Apple will send notices to more than 23 million iTunes accounts that made in-app purchases, but the size of the class is still not clear. To qualify, Apple customers have to prove that they were charged for in-app purchases made by a minor, had not given their account password to the child and have not already received a refund for their charges.

Users who spent more than $30 on in-app purchases can opt to get the $5 payment in cash, but will have to file paperwork detailing which apps they used to accumulate those charges.

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Apple loss to Einhorm raises pressure to pay investors cash

Apple changes policy for in-app purchases

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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