- (Photo: Reuters/Michael Dalder)
Apple Inc. announced that it will refund roughly $32.5 million to customers after reaching a settlement stemming from a complaint levied by parents who stated the tech giant charged them for unauthorized purchases completed by children.
On Wednesday the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced that in addition to the monetary refund Apple also will be required to get permission from parents before charging for mobile app purchases.
"Whether you're doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a statement. "You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize."
Ramirez said the FTC was flooded with "tens of thousands of complaints" highlighting unauthorized purchases of popular children's apps such as Dragon Story and Tiny Zoo Friends.
One report indicated that an American mother revealed that her daughter spent $2,600 while playing the game "Tap Pet Hotel."
However, Apple CEO Tim Cook insists that the company had previously settled claims last summer to the tune of $100 million regarding unauthorized app purchases and stated that company was hit again for the same action.
"It doesn't feel right for the FTC to sue over a case that had already been settled. To us, it smacked of double jeopardy," Cook wrote in a company memo obtained by Reuters. "However, the consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren't already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight."
Apple has since stated that it is changing its policy in how apps are charged to customers and that all future apps will get new disclosures informing consumers of the potential charges that could be incurred.
"Protecting children has been a top priority for the App Store from the very beginning, and Apple is proud to have set the gold standard for online stores by making the App Store a safe place for customers of all ages," Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said in a statement.