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Apple proposes in-app purchase refund system for parents

Part of a multimillion US settlement

Apple proposes in-app purchase refund system for parents
Apple is looking to put a system in place that will compensate parents of children who make in-app purchases without their permission.

The proposal, which could be approved in the US at the start of next month, will allow parents to claim at least $5 (either in the form of store credit or actual cash if they now longer have an iTunes account) if they can prove the purchases were made without their knowledge.

Laying down the law

Previously, after entering their password to green light an initial purchase, consumers were given a 15 minute window in which they could make additional purchases without any further authentication.

The rules were changed when parents began to complain that children were amassing huge bills without their knowledge.

The current refund proposal isn't being made out of the goodness of Apple's collective hearts, however.

Rather, it forms the backbone of a settlement with five parents in California who filed a lawsuit against the company in 2011 when their children spent huge sums of money – in some cases, up to $1,400 – via in-app purchases.

The lawsuit - which could cost Apple up to $100 million to settle - is based around the claim that the company "failed to adequately disclose that third-party game apps, largely available for free and rated as containing content suitable for children, contained the ability to make in-app purchases."

Money matters

Few details have been given as to how parents would go about proving they didn't make the purchases in question – emails detailing every in-app purchase to be reimbursed a necessity - though a window of 180 days is being proposed.

Interestingly, however, while at least $5 will be offered for each of the rogue in-app purchases, Apple will only entertain cases where the total amount of cash spent in play is at least $30.

Apple has so far declined to comment on the proposals outside of the case itself, and it's not clear if they will be rolled out in overseas territories, such as the UK.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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