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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Federal court finds Amazon liable for unauthorized in-app purchases

Federal court finds Amazon liable for unauthorized in-app purchases
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Apr 27, 2016, 05:38 PM
 
Amazon has been blamed for allowing children to rack up large credit card bills for their parents, by allowing them to make in-app purchases in content sourced from its app store. The ruling by a federal judge, in a suit brought against the retailer by the Federal Trade Commission, finds Amazon liable for the unauthorized in-app charges, and could potentially be forced to refund customers affected by their children's excessive spending habits.

Filed in July 2014, the FTC accused Amazon of failing to put in adequate safeguards to prevent unauthorized transactions from taking place, seeking refunds for the purchases made on behalf of the parents. Today's ruling officially lands the blame at Amazon's feet, with an order calling for further representations from both the company and the FTC over how much Amazon owes customers for its "unlawful practices."

"We are pleased the federal judge found Amazon liable for unfairly billing consumers for unauthorized in-app purchases by children," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "We look forward to making a case for full refunds to consumers as a result of Amazon's transactions."

Depending on the number of such unauthorized purchases, this could potentially force Amazon to pay out millions of dollars, though similar legal action from the FTC against other digital marketplaces may indicate how much Amazon has to refund. In January 2014, Apple agreed to pay at least $32.5 million to settle a similar in-app purchases lawsuit, along with a promise to close loopholes permitting the purchases from taking place, though to mixed results. In September the same year, Google settled, agreeing to refund $19 million.
     
DiabloConQueso
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Apr 28, 2016, 09:53 AM
 
Hopefully this will nudge developers away from the microtransaction model, as, in my opinion, it's been the downfall of app stores across all mobile platforms. It's rarely implemented in a non-predatory fashion, they're almost always required to make any kind of meaningful progress in a game, and it destroys enjoyment of the game.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Apr 28, 2016, 10:11 AM
 
Doesn't seem to have, as Apple settled this a similar suit over two years ago, and it just seems to be getting more common.

Parental protections are getting better, though, so that's good.
     
DiabloConQueso
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Apr 28, 2016, 10:49 AM
 
Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Steve Jobs, in the very beginning of the iPhone, did not want (or allow) 3rd-party developers contributing to apps on the phone.

We've gotten some wildly great stuff out of 3rd-party developers since them, but for ever great 3rd-party app, there are hundreds or thousands of trash, useless, buggy, and/or predatory apps.

http://9to5mac.com/2011/10/21/jobs-original-vision-for-the-iphone-no-third-party-native-apps/
     
Grendelmon
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Apr 28, 2016, 11:37 AM
 
I'm done with mobile gaming. Every app has essentially become a complete predatory money grab.

Coincidentally, I just got my two children a 2DS for early birthday gifts. Nintendo's online store still has refurbished 2DS consoles for $60. And, the traditional model is king:

1) Titles don't require internet access to play
2) Full cost of the title is up front
3) Leave the veterans to do the job right: premium titles that still remain unchallenged in terms of quality and gameplay from app store games


/// end rant.

:-)
     
DiabloConQueso
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Apr 28, 2016, 12:14 PM
 
Yep, I'm right there with you, Grendelmon. I have two games that I played religiously, and now I don't play any -- they started off as great games that didn't require (or even support) IAPs, and now they're pushing IAPs.

While neither of the games have IAPs as a way to get ahead faster, they make the game easier (more moves than what's typically allowed, more special powers or items to help attain goals easier, etc.) and I no longer play them on principle.

What's even worse is that the youth of today is being introduced to gaming like this and they're coming out the other end thinking this is the norm, and that this is what games are -- you can play casually for free, but if you ever want to really play a game, it costs additional money above and beyond what you paid for the game.

It's harsh, but I find it disgusting. Pay-to-play or pay-to-win are concepts that benefit only the people who profit monetarily from the game (ie, the developers), and the reasoning behind it is but for one reason and one reason only -- "More money for me!"

It's greedy and predatory, end of story. There's literally nothing good about it.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Apr 28, 2016, 01:46 PM
 
I buy a lot of board game conversions. Think Ticket to Ride, or Carcassonne. While they have IAP, they're for expansions for the game, not extra turns, or consumables.

I play exactly one game that pushes IAP (Marvel Puzzle Quest), and I haven't spent a dime on it.

I don't care for the free app, loads of in-app purchases model, and my app purchases reflect that. Once again, though, its where the market is overall, because of market forces.
     
   
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