A lawsuit filed by parents in April 2011 claiming that Apple allowed children to make in-game app purchases without parental knowledge will soon be settled.
Parents argued that they did not know they were being charged until the bills came. The apps were sold by Apple as extra features and “game currencies” in free-to-download games.
“Apple failed to adequately disclose that third-party game apps, largely available for free and rated as containing content suitable for children, contained the ability to make in-app purchases,” the lawsuit contended, according to a report by Reuters.
Some of the games were designed for kids as young as four. They were buying game currencies without realizing that they were spending real money. These “extras” known as “bait apps” are placed in free games and sometimes even cost up to $100.
According to Gamasutra, a U.S. judge has stated that “Apple may have violated consumer protection laws by inappropriately labeling these apps as free.”
When Apple’s argument that parents could have always stopped their children from buying the apps did not sustain, they have agreed to settle the case. Apple will offer $5 iTunes gift card to parents who had no knowledge their kids were purchasing paid apps using iTunes or App Store credit. If the amount purchased was more, apple will offer credit in that amount. Users can claim a cash refund if the amount was over $30.
In order for the parents to collect the settlement, they have to attest that a minor bought “game currency” and that they did not provide the minor with the Apple password.
But the parents claimed that there was a 15-minute gap after the “free” game was downloaded when the children could buy as many in-game apps as they wanted without inputting the password. Apple has since taken down this 15 minute window.
The number of users affected is unknown. But Apple is supposedly paying damages to the tune of $100 million. They could start paying the settlements late this year or early 2014.