Did your child run charges on apps in Google Play without your permission? Good news: you will likely qualify for a full refund by check or with Google Play credits under the terms of a settlement announced on Thursday by the Federal Trade Commission.
The proposed pay-outs stem from an investigation into so-called bait apps, which are typically games that are very cheap or free but that encourage the user to buy digital fish or other goods in order to keep playing. One mother, for instance, claims her 5-year-old spent $65 on “Crystals” in a game called “Run, Jump, Smash.”
According to an FTC press release, an investigation determined that Google employees referred to the situation as “family fraud” or “friendly fraud.” The settlement, which requires Google to pay out at least $19 million, comes after the FTC reached a similar $32 million deal with Apple last year, and as the FTC also investigates Amazon. News of the pending Google deal surfaced earlier this year amid reports that Apple executives send the FTC accounts of Google’s alleged misbehavior.
Under terms of the Google agreement, parents and other adults will be able to ask for a refund in the following situations:
1) The Google Play app charges were incurred by a minor but paid for by the adult
2) The minor rung up the charges by accident or without the adult’s permission.
3) The adult hasn’t received a refund already.
A proposed settlement document explains that Google, once the deal receives final approval by the FTC, will begin notifying Google Play users by email about the settlement, and invite them to make a claim. As long as the claim is not fraudulent, Google is to send a check within 30 days (or send a credit or other payment method within 10 days).
Apple, Google and Amazon have all recently tightened their in-app purchasing rules in order to make it harder for minors to run up charges.
Meanwhile, Google is still trying to resolve a class action lawsuit over the in-app purchase problem.