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Apple Sends Email to iTunes Users Offering Refunds for Unauthorized In-App Purchases

app_store_icon_ios_7As a part of its consent decree with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over in-app purchases in the App Store, Apple today sent out an email to some iTunes users, offering them a chance to obtain a refund by filling out a form through a special link.

Specifically, the email appears to be targeted toward users who have made recent in-app purchases, with Apple stating that unauthorized purchases "made by a minor" are eligible for a refund, with all requests required to be submitted by April 15.
Dear iTunes account owner,

Apple is committed to providing parents and kids with a great experience on the App Store. We review all app content before allowing it on our store, provide a wide range of age-appropriate content, and include parental controls in iOS to make it easy for parents to restrict or disable access to content.

We've heard from some customers that it was too easy for their kids to make in-app purchases. As a result, we've improved controls for parents so they can better manage their children's purchases, or restrict them entirely. Additionally, we are offering refunds in certain cases.

Please follow the steps to submit a refund request:

Find your in-app purchase records. Check your email for iTunes receipts or use a computer to sign in to your iTunes account and view your Purchase History.

Use this link to submit your refund request to Apple.

Provide the requested information and enter "Refund for in-App Purchases made by a minor" in the Details section.

Apple will review your request and contact you via email about your refund status. All refund requests must be submitted no later than April 15, 2015.
According to its agreement signed with the FTC in January, Apple will be required to provide full refunds to parents whose children purchased unauthorized in-app items, totaling $32 million in refunds. Apple also added a pop-up warning message in iOS 7.1 detailing a 15-minute window which allows users to make in-app purchases for 15 minutes without reentering a password.

Top Rated Comments

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74 months ago
Ha! Stupid parents with their terrible parenting skills asking for a free handout from Apple because they're too stupid to know what their stupid kids are doing with their stupid iPads. LOOK AT ME! I'M BEING JUDGMENTAL ON THE INTERNET!
Rating: 15 Votes
74 months ago

you seem...upset.

Would you like a hug?

hold me until the anger goes away!
Rating: 7 Votes
74 months ago
Didn't get one because I don't give my expensive equipment to children to use.
Rating: 7 Votes
74 months ago

The problem with all this is not Apple or parents or children, its the "Freemium" model which has corrupted gaming. The idea of getting a free game which is simply made easier by, often, dumping hundreds of dollars into it has ruined gaming in general.

What Apple should do instead of placating parents who have fallen victim to the greedy freemium model is instead to turn against the app developers that are victimizing users with ridiculous schemes to make a game playable through what is essentially extortion.

But Apple is too prideful of their whole "millions and millions of Apps" tag line and so will never do anything to reduce the amount of greedy crapware that has plagued the App store and instead seem to want to protect the freemium model by ensuring that parents and children will fall victim to this scheme over and over again. Whatever millions Apple has to give back to parents pales in comparison to the billions Apple makes every year through in-app transactions.

Say what you will about Microsoft, but Microsoft did not create a market of greedy *******s developing trojan horses with a direct connection to people's credit cards. Hackers may have tried to exploit security holes in Windows to steal your identity or bank information, but Apple simply made this a prominent "feature" of gaming on an iDevice, and I think more people have been exploited by Freemium overall then anything Microsoft was at fault for doing.
Rating: 5 Votes
74 months ago

Kudos to Apple. I couldn't imagine another company even bothering.

Kudos for what? Compliance with the FTC?

from the original post: "According to its agreement signed with the FTC in January, Apple will be required to provide full refunds to parents whose children purchased unauthorized in-app items, totaling $32 million in refunds. Apple also added a pop-up warning message in iOS 7.1 detailing a 15-minute window which allows users to make in-app purchases for 15 minutes without reentering a password. "

You shouldn't mistake this for altruism.;)
Rating: 4 Votes
74 months ago

Did they really write...
'Use this link to submit your refund quest to Apple.'

Refund quest? They need a proofreader.

"Refund quest" doesn't sound like the most fun game in the world, doesn't it? That's a typo, the email is fine and I fixed it now! :)
Rating: 4 Votes
74 months ago

But would you give an iPad etc to a toddler with the password wide open and it loaded up with apps that use IAP and then walk away and not pay attention to what they are doing.

Obviously not if someone knew the password was not required again.

However, many people did not know about this SECRET no-password mode.

And that's the point. It was a lousy UI/UX decision to have such a mode without any warning whatsoever.

You sound like someone that wouldn't so you would have no issue. But many folks have basically done this. And downloaded apps that are rated for 17+ for a 5 year old without looking at what it is. And told their kids the password cause Little Jimmy wouldn't.

That's NOT what happened to a lot of people.

They did NOT give out the password, nor were they downloading 17+ rated apps.

What happened (and why Apple got into trouble) is that they did not know about the hidden password window, and downloaded apps which took advantage of that lack of knowledge, by enticing children with pretty looking IAPs that seemed similar to other games that only used fake money.

For example, the following game was in the Apple App Store, listed for kids as young as 4. FOUR YEARS OLD.

Game makers counted on the fact that they could wait a few minutes, until the parent thought everything was okay and had stopped watching, and still have time to pop up one of these in front of the child before the password window expired.

On what planet is it even faintly moral to have $99 IAPs for virtual fish for a child's game?? Anyone who defends this practice in the slightest, should be ashamed.

The fact is, these parents believed that Apple had their best interest at heart, and they trusted in a password model that made sense.
Rating: 3 Votes
74 months ago
I hate in-app purchases.
Ban them. Forever.

Have free apps.
Have paid-for apps.
Have demo apps.

In-app purchases are disgusting.
Pay-to-win is pathetic.
Rating: 3 Votes
74 months ago

How is Apple going to verify the validity of some of these coming claims? Are there going to be more than a few deceitful or 'questionable' claims, or is my faith in human beings perhaps lacking?….. :o

They're not. This is just a PR exercise for apple.

I would like to know if these refunds are coming from apple or if apple will take the money from developer accounts (so apple just loses the 30%). The latter seems unfair since the developers were operating within apples system and it was apple's in-app purchase system which was the problem.

Anyone know?
Rating: 3 Votes
74 months ago

I don't like the idea of offering refunds. I look at this as a valuable lesson for parents and one where they are paying Apple for that parental guidance. The parents are the ones who screwed up in these situations, and they deserve to take the financial hit. Apple and the developers who work tirelessly deserve to get paid.

There seems to be a lot of bashing of parents on here, I can only assume by non-parents. I have two children, and my youngest has inadvertently made in-app purchases on two separate occasions. She doesn't know the password and had no idea she was making an in-app purchase. We don't sit and watch everything she does when she's on the iPad because we live in the real world where that's impossible and where it's not conducive to actually trying to be a good parent.

Both times we contacted Apple immediately and were given a refund. And we deleted the game that allowed this.

And by the way, we severely limit the times either of our children are on the internet and keep an eye on what they are doing.

Being the perfect parent is easy until you actually become a parent.
Rating: 2 Votes

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