Amazon.com has started processing refunds to consumers whose children ran up in-app charges between November 2011 and May 2016. More than $70 million is at stake.
Eligible consumers should have received a letter in the mail. Those who didn't can go to https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/refund-orders/in-apprefund/ (link is external) or log into their Amazon.com accounts and go to the Message Center to find information about requesting a refund under Important Messages.
Refund requests can be completed entirely online. Consumers do not need to call Amazon or send anything by mail to receive a refund. The deadline for submitting refund requests is May 28, 2018. Any questions about individual refunds should be directed to Amazon at 866-216-1072.
Last month, the FTC and Amazon agreed to end their litigation related to the FTC’s case, which paved the way for the refund program to begin.
A contract requires consent
In April 2016, a federal court ruled that Amazon had wrongfully charged consumers for in-app purchases made by children who were using mobile apps like online games, downloaded from Amazon's app store.
The court found that Amazon received many complaints from parents about surprise in-app charges incurred by children. The judge in the case said what Amazon disclosed about the possibility of in-app charges within otherwise “free” apps was not sufficient to inform consumers – especially children – about the charges. Minors cannot enter into legally binding contracts.
“This case demonstrates what should be a bedrock principle for all companies — you must get customers’ consent before you charge them,” said Thomas B. Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Consumers affected by Amazon’s practices can now be compensated for charges they didn’t expect or authorize.”
The FTC previously took action against Google and Apple in relation to unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children. Those companies ended up making refunds.