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posted by n1 on Friday March 28 2014, @02:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the apples-making-lemonade dept.

sootman writes:

Apple has sent an email out to iTunes users informing them that if a child has made an unauthorized in-app purchase, the money may be refunded.

We've heard from some customers that it was too easy for their kids to make in-app purchases. As a result, we've improved controls for parents so they can better manage their children's purchases, or restrict them entirely. Additionally, we are offering refunds in certain cases. Our records show that you made some in-app purchases, and if any of these were unauthorized purchases by a minor, you might be eligible for a refund from Apple.

They go on to describe a process where you can look at your purchase history and mark any that you'd like a refund on if they were made by minors. The program will run until April 15, 2015.

This comes as a result of an agreement between Apple and the FTC earlier this year.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by lajos on Friday March 28 2014, @02:57AM

    by lajos (528) on Friday March 28 2014, @02:57AM (#22367)

    This won't fix the scam that the In-App purchases were turned into.

    It's ridiculous that Apple/Goole/.. allow, and blood-eyed developers abuse the fact that no limits are set on buying virtual berries and candies.

    The real solution would be simple: put a per app/per user limit on allowed In-App purchases. Once you pay let's say $50, the game becomes fully unlocked and you don't have to pay for anything. $50 is the price of a console AAA title, so it should be more than reasonable for a fully unlocked candy themed copy of a match three game.

    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday March 28 2014, @03:05AM

      by Tork (3914) on Friday March 28 2014, @03:05AM (#22369)
      Isn't the big complaint about the "Walled Garden" that too many restrictions are put in place?
      --
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      • (Score: 1) by lajos on Friday March 28 2014, @12:01PM

        by lajos (528) on Friday March 28 2014, @12:01PM (#22467)

        There are too many restrictions.

        But the restrictions are designed with one goal in mind: how to extract the most money from the users. In the name of magic. Or whatever.

        Same as Dodd Frank for Wall Street. Restrictions, sold to you and me in the name of equality, but weirdly, it's making Wall Street richer and you and I poorer.

        • (Score: 2) by githaron on Friday March 28 2014, @01:22PM

          by githaron (581) on Friday March 28 2014, @01:22PM (#22492)

          While I hate the idea of "Pay To Win" games, I don't see a reason to stop adults from purchasing what they want. Instead they should just require a password for every purchase by default. Changing that setting would require a password. It would prevent kids from buying stuff on their parents' devices. If you change the default to a timer, counter, or no-limit and your kids purchase $1000 dollars of digital items, it would be your fault for not having a modicum of forethought.

        • (Score: 1) by BasilBrush on Friday March 28 2014, @05:12PM

          by BasilBrush (3994) on Friday March 28 2014, @05:12PM (#22596)

          But the restrictions are designed with one goal in mind: how to extract the most money from the users.

          In the holism sense of people spending more money in a more pleasant store or mall, yes. Take the ban on porn for example. If looking at the small picture, one might think that Apple lose transactions that they would have had from people buying porn. But by making the store family friendly and "safe for work", they will have more transactions overall.

          And for that reason, I suspect that Apple will be adding more restrictions on in-app purchases. It has become something that's been more abused than used by developers, so needs stepping on. Personally I'd suggest that apps are limited to a single in-app purchase. That would support free-trial model. And also a basic/advanced model. Whilst there are genuine situations for which multiple in-app purchases are useful, I think they are outweighed by the scams and nickle-and-diming.

          --
          Hurrah! Quoting works now!
          • (Score: 1) by lajos on Friday March 28 2014, @05:27PM

            by lajos (528) on Friday March 28 2014, @05:27PM (#22601)

            Safe? What's safe about your kid blowing $3600 on virtual berries?

            Hook, line and sinker my friend. You just bought into the marketing bullshit.

            Next thing you tell me, is that the iPads are great educational tools.

            • (Score: 1) by BasilBrush on Friday March 28 2014, @05:56PM

              by BasilBrush (3994) on Friday March 28 2014, @05:56PM (#22611)

              Read the 3rd paragraph of my post before commenting.

              In the 2nd paragraph "safe" comment relates to the exclusion of porn. In the 3rd paragraph I point out that in order to keep the safe reputation, they need to restrict in-app purchases.

              So had you read the full comment, you'd realise your response makes no sense.

              Oh, and yes, iPads ARE great educational tools. There's a huge amount of educational software available, much of which simply wouldn't work in such an engaging way on a PC without a touchscreen. Direct manipulation of on-screen objects is good for education.

              If you don't mind me saying so, your post comes across as one from an impatient hater. It's not really considered.

              --
              Hurrah! Quoting works now!
              • (Score: 1) by lajos on Friday March 28 2014, @09:25PM

                by lajos (528) on Friday March 28 2014, @09:25PM (#22716)

                "If you don't mind me saying so, your post comes across as one from an impatient hater. It's not really considered."

                Sorry, didn't mean to offend. I should've put a smiley face to indicate that is was meant to be a friendly jab.

                "Oh, and yes, iPads ARE great educational tools."

                No, they aren't. They are toys. For crushing candies. Entertainment devices. Show me _ONE_ kid who uses is for anything other than playing games.

                Don't believe me? Ask any teacher at LA unified.

                Smiley face - > ; )

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by GungnirSniper on Friday March 28 2014, @03:40AM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Friday March 28 2014, @03:40AM (#22376) Journal

    Too bad it is against the business model of any app store to make blocking in-app payments as easy as a permissions issue.

    Maybe Blackberry will do so since their business customer base could like such a feature.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by maddening milkshakes on Friday March 28 2014, @04:12AM

    by maddening milkshakes (3983) on Friday March 28 2014, @04:12AM (#22386)

    I got one of those emails. Figured it was a phishing attack of some kind and deleted it. I expected something like that would use my name, not "iTunes account owner". Since it's due to an FTC settlement, I guess we're on a budget.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Udo Schmitz on Friday March 28 2014, @05:36AM

      by Udo Schmitz (625) on Friday March 28 2014, @05:36AM (#22394)

      Since it's due to an FTC settlement, I guess we're on a budget.

      Actually? Apple already had settled a class action when the FTC got involved and it is not clear if the FTC decision changes anything about it, besides getting press and sending some of the money to them:

      ""Last year," Cook writes to his staff, "we set out to refund any in-app purchase which may have been made without a parent's permission. We wanted to reach every customer who might have been affected, so we sent emails to 28 million App Store customers -- anyone who had made an in-app purchase in a game designed for kids. When some emails bounced, we mailed the parents postcards. In all, we received 37,000 claims and we will be reimbursing each one as promised."
      A federal judge had signed off on this settlement and Apple had begun mailing out reimbursement checks when the FTC, under newly-appointed Chairwoman Ramirez, decided to get involved."

      http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2014/01/15/apple-ftc-k id-apps/ [cnn.com]

      More from article:

      "Which brings us to that $32.5 million. It's not clear from any of the documents how this figure was arrived at, nor whether the refunds Apple has already paid will be subtracted from it. By the terms of the consent agreement, Apple must pay out "a minimum" of $32.5 million -- or roughly $880 for each of Apple's complainants.
      Any money that's not spent -- which could, in theory, be millions of dollars -- goes to ... wait for it ... the commission."

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @08:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @08:12AM (#22417)
  • (Score: 2) by WizardFusion on Friday March 28 2014, @09:28AM

    by WizardFusion (498) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 28 2014, @09:28AM (#22432) Journal

    I blame the parents and bad parenting. Lock the device down so that kids can't make IAP. If you are too stupid to do this, then you deserve what you get.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @02:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @02:48PM (#22533)

      I blame the parents and bad parenting.

      Are you a parent? Yes I think parenting is one of the few endeavours you must partake in to have any real grasp of what it involves. I know every non-parent will disagree with me, as I did before I became a parent. So I think when people knee-jerk blame parents for the actions of corporations, whether or not they themselves are a parent is highly relevant.

      Lock the device down so that kids can't make IAP.

      This was not always an option. You seem to think it was. IAPs were not even advertised as a game option until parents started complaining they were getting billed because jimmy clicked on a blue diamond 2 weeks ago. How short is your memory?

      If you are too stupid to do this, then you deserve what you get.

      That seems very harsh and cruel. Have you ever done something others considered stupid? Were you treated with compassion and had things explained to you, so you don't make the same mistake again, or did people state you deserved what you got because you were stupid? Even if we are stupid, blaming stupid people for being stupid seems...dare I say it? You seem to not understand the history of IAP gaming options.

      IAPs are unethical and should not be tolerated. I do not know anyone who believes these have not been, and do not continue to be, targetted at very young children who don't understand the still-widely undocumented IAPs hidden throughout a game. Understand there exist apps outside of Apple's walled garden. Implementing technical measures to limit the negative effects of unethical behavior is not good. Just stop the unethical behavior.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @02:58PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @02:58PM (#22539)

    Apple has sent an email out to iTunes users informing them that if a child has made an unauthorized in-app purchase, the money may be refunded.

    I never got that email.

    We've heard from some customers that it was too easy for their kids to make in-app purchases. As a result, we've improved controls for parents

    Lie. They were sued and a federal judge agreed with this solution. They never did this until it was clear they were going to be sued. This was before the FTC was even involved.

    we are offering refunds in certain cases.

    Certain?

    you might be eligible for a refund from Apple.

    Might?

    From the settlement:

    Should Apple issue less than $32.5 million in refunds to consumers within the 12 months after the settlement becomes final, the company must remit the balance to the Commission.

    It is cheaper for Apple to write a big check to the Commission than the myriad of folks who deserve it. Vested interest to invoke the "certain" and "mights" above in order to save money?