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Google will pay $19m to settle parents' in-app payment claims

Reaches settlement, time to move on
Fri Sep 05 2014, 12:02
Google must pay $19m to in-app purchasing parents

GOOGLE WILL PAY $19m to make peace with parents who are ticked off because their children spent a lot of money on in-app purchases.

In-app payments are usually found in 'free' games. They turn a limited, crappy experience into something that is playable, but also turn it into a hungry money pit with unrelenting demands.

Children, who often are easily swayed, are lured into opening their parental wallets, virtually, emptying them of cash to buy virtual unicorn saddles, additional characters and pointlessly available vehicles.

In-app payments appeal to publishers, presumably because of the revenue streams they provide. However, anyone that has contributed to the in-app cash harvest might feel aggrieved about the arrangement.

Google responded to our request for comment on the settlement of the in-app lawsuit with a muted comment. It said that it is glad to put this business behind it, and is moving on.

"We've already made product changes to ensure people have the best Google Play experience possible," Google said in a statement. "We're glad to put this matter behind us so we can focus on creating more ways for people to enjoy all the entertainment they love."

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that Google is "refunding" parents in order to settle the complaint about unlawful billing. It added that Google must pay soon, because it faces a 12 month deadline.

The lawsuit suggested that Google staffers were aware of controversy over in-app purchases in the apps world.

"Google employees referred to the issue as "friendly fraud" and "family fraud" in describing kids' unauthorized in-app charges as a leading source of refund requests, according to the complaint. The complaint further alleges that Google's practice has been to refer consumers seeking refunds first to the app developer," the FTC said in its announcement.

"The settlement will require Google to provide full refunds of unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children and to modify its billing practices to obtain express, informed consent from consumers before billing them for in-app charges."

Apple too has been chastized over this sort of thing. Reportedly it used the opportunity to tell the FTC to start looking at Google and its "drunken sailor" child market. µ


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