Amazon looks between the couch cushions for US$70m for kids' in-app spending spree refunds

Lawyers stand down, bosses get checkbooks out

Amazon is going to refund as much as US$70m of in-app charges racked up by American children, after reaching agreement with US trade watchdog the FTC.

The regulator sued the web souk in 2014. At the time, it cited internal emails discussing the e-tailer’s inability to control in-app purchases as a “near house on fire,” and claimed the situation had existed ever since 2011.

The watchdog's consumer protection director Jessica Rich said at the time: “For years, despite this very real consumer issue, Amazon also allowed children to run up unlimited charges without their parents’ knowledge or permission.”

The case meandered through the courts, and a year ago a US federal court ruled that Amazon had to pay. The FTC appealed against a point of that decision which allowed Jeff Bezos’ bazaar to keep offering in-app purchases, and Amazon cross-appealed against the finding it had broken the law.

Now, the FTC and Amazon have agreed to abandon the appeals and demobilize their lawyers.

With the lawsuits abandoned, the FTC says, Amazon can soon start offering refunds, with more than $70m of in-app purchases between November 2011 and April 2016 potentially eligible.

Amazon is to provide details of the refund process “shortly,” the FTC announcement says. ®


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