Almost a year after Amazon was found liable for unfairly billing parents for kids’ in-app purchases, consumers are one step closer to getting refunds for those unauthorized charges after the Federal Trade Commission and the e-commerce giant decided to stop fighting over the process.
At the time of the court’s ruling, the court denied the FTC’s request for an injunction keeping Amazon from doing anything like that again, and the FTC then filed an appeal of that denial. Amazon filed its own cross-appeal disputing the court’s finding that it had violated the law. These appeals put refunds in limbo — until now: Both the FTC and Amazon say they’re dropping their appeals.
“The decision by the FTC and Amazon to end their litigation will allow the refund process to begin shortly,” the FTC said in a statement, noting that more than $70 million in in-app charges made between November 2011 and May 2016 may be eligible for refunds.
Details on the refund program will be announced shortly. However, a judge ruled in November that the money will be refunded to its source — usually a debit or credit card account — and not in the form of gift cards or online credits, as Amazon had requested. In cases where that’s not an option, paper checks can be sent.
“This case demonstrates what should be a bedrock principle for all companies — you must get customers’ consent before you charge them,” said Thomas B. Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.