Apple Refunds for Children's In-App Purchases

Brian Murphy

Apple has settled a class-action lawsuit in which children downloaded free games, then made in-app purchases, creating large bills for their parents.

Under the settlement, Apple will offer $5 iTunes gift cards to any US parent to claims their children made a purchase without their knowledge. For parents who can prove that their children made more then $5 in unknown purchases in a 45-day period, Apple will offer them the amount they can confirm. Any parents who can show more than $30 in unknown purchases can opt to have cash refund instead of iTunes gift cards.

This "freemium" model, where apps are free to download, but require in-app purchases to either progress faster or unlock additional features, has become increasingly popular in the past few years. Games like Zynga's FarmVille have excelled at this model and have been wildly popular despite requiring money in order to progress more quickly through the game.

Users have seen these fees add up very quickly, especially parents, whose children may not fully understand the value of a dollar. This sticker shock and subsequent media reaction led to this class-action suit. There are reports that a father in Florida got a bill for $613 after his son played TapFish, and I'm sure he'll be looking for a piece of this settlement.

Brian Murphy

Harrison & Devins, PA