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FTC claims Amazon owes 'millions' over unauthorised in-app purchases

Retail giant finds itself in the same boat as Apple
Fri Jul 11 2014, 11:43

THE UNITED STATES Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will take Amazon to court over the "millions of dollars" that it owes its customers for "unauthorised" in-app purchases.

Amazon has found itself in a boat similar to Apple, which was taken to court over the same issue in January and subsequently ordered to pay a $32.5m fine.

The FTC is claiming that Amazon owes inattentive parents "millions of dollars" for in-app purchases made by their children, and is seeking a court order against the firm "requiring refunds to consumers for the unauthorised charges".

The agency also wants to ban Amazon from billing parents and other account holders for in-app charges incurred without their permission, alleging that the firm allows children to spend an "unlimited amount of money" to pay for virtual items without parental involvement until June 2014.

The FTC uses the example that one parent was left with a bill of $358.42 after their child went on an in-app spending spree, due to the firm's lack of requirement for a password to be entered.

FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement, "Amazon's in-app system allowed children to incur unlimited charges on their parents' accounts without permission.

"Even Amazon's own employees recognised the serious problem its process created. We are seeking refunds for affected parents and a court order to ensure that Amazon gets parents' consent for in-app purchases."

Amazon has yet to comment, but it is not likely to be happy. Earlier this month, Amazon said that it would be prepared to go to court and fight the case, claiming it hasn't actually done anything wrong.

"When customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn't want, we refunded those purchases," said Amazon associate general counsel Andrew DeVore in a letter to the FTC, adding that the firm's apps store shows "prominent notice of in-app purchasing, effective parental controls and real-time notice of every in-app purchase".

The FTCs announcement comes just a day after it emerged that Apple ratted Google to the FTC over in-app purchases, alleging that the search engine giant also allowed kids to make unauthorised purchases. µ


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