Google Inc. has been ordered to refund an estimated $19 million worth of in-app purchases by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after receiving complaints of unauthorized purchases made by children without parental consent. Apparently, the most of these purchases came from apps where kids would pay to level up in certain games or buy more lives to advance.
The tactic was deemed unfair by the FTC, seen as an abuse considering how phones and tablets have now become a part of daily lives. Apparently, the same case is being looked into with Apple and Amazon by the FTC. Apple has agreed to a settlement (made earlier this year and reportedly around $32.5 million) while Amazon is still appealing the charges.
Google claims that they have made the necessary steps to implement stricter authorization as far as app payment requirements are concerned. That includes extra security passwords prior to making an actual purchase which they started rolling out as early as March of this year. But apparently the changes were deemed not enough by the FTC, leading to a settlement order.
And because of that, Google stands to lose $19 million from its mobile app store sector; something that they have been ordered to settle in 15 days after the order was issued. The FTC will be closely monitoring the settlement process and should Google settle less than the $19 million refund; the balance must be paid to the FTC.
Customers have been conned into downloading “free apps” although at times there would be in-app purchases popping up for users who would want to gain extra items, levels and powers. Google has since promised to develop guidelines to prevent app developers from taking advantage of mobile users, particularly the children.
Additionally, Google has pledged to remove all ‘deceptive’ apps from its Play store, in an effort to put a stop to this tactic made by app developers aside from modifying their billing practices to ensure that they obtain express consent before actual charges to customers are made.