Apple's $30 Million Refund Sets App Sale Precedent

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The FTC has ordered Apple to refund at least $32.5 million in app sales to kids. Technologist Jason Hennessey says the settlement is a warning to other tech companies.

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The window was likely designed for efficiency.

Parental authorization of a digital purchase does not give kids—or app distributors—carte blanche for more purchases, according to a settlement the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached with Apple last week. The settlement forces Apple to pay at least $32.5 million in refunds for app purchases made by kids according to CNN.

Jason Hennessey of Atlanta's EverSpark Interactive says the decision has resounding consequences for how apps are programmed and sold across the industry.

The FTC first brought action against Apple after consumers complained that their children could make purchases without parental consent, according to CNN (retrieved 01.21.2014). Each time a parent entered their Apple password for kids to make in-app purchases, it began a 15-minute window during which the kids could make additional purchases—with no parental password needed.

The FTC says Apple did not notify parents of the 15-minute window, and that charges included $99.99 virtual items. Virtual items are often sold in game apps, allowing in-game bonuses to be bought with real-world money, CNN reported.

“The window was likely designed for efficiency,” said Hennessey, co-founder of EverSpark. “If you want to make three purchases at once it's a pain to enter your password three times. I doubt there was an intention to defraud, but the window had unforeseen consequences.”

But Hennessey says the decision won't only affect Apple.

“The FTC has sent a clear message that app sellers will be the ones responsible for preventing irresponsible purchases by minors,” he said. “Parents have a duty to oversee kids' app use, but the apps themselves have to support that, or they will be liable.”

Apple says it now notifies parents of the window and allows them to disable it.

About EverSpark:

EverSpark Interactive is an all-in-one SEO, internet marketing and digital media firm that specializes in gripping, keyword-optimized content. From sales pages to company blogs, PR blurbs to high-quality videos and social media posts, EverSpark's content always gets attention—from both search engines and live customers. The company can be reached at (770) 481-1766 or

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Denae Olberding
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