On Tuesday, the FTC announced that eligible consumers should have received an email from Amazon informing them about the refunds.
If you’re unsure if you qualify, simply go to this Amazon website and log in to your account and it will tell you if you’re eligible. (Alas, I got the following message: “Sorry, but you do not appear to have any potentially eligible in-app purchase refunds as defined by the court.”)
The refunds came after the FTC accused Amazon in 2014 of making it too easy for kids to rack up in-app purchases while playing games like Pet Shop Story and Ice Age Village.
These type of kid-focused apps are often free to download, but then encourage players to start buying things within the game, or to ensure they can keep playing in the first place. In the view of regulators, such tactics are an unscrupulous, and can leave parents saddled with unexpected bills.
When it launched its app store in 2011, Amazon did not require any password to purchase apps—making it easy for kids to buy in-game goodies without their parents’ permission. Soon after, the company added other steps to restrict instant purchases but the FTC found these still did not amount to “informed consent.”
The agency, which has reached similar settlements with Apple and Google in recent years, has said that “$70 million in in-app charges made between November 2011 and May 2016 may be eligible for refunds” from Amazon.
The FTC and Amazon reached the settlement shortly after a federal judge late just year ruled that the company had to issue the compensation in the form of refunds rather than gift cards.
Consumers who do qualify for a refund have until May 28 of next year to submit a claim. The FTC says any questions about individual refunds should be directed to Amazon at 866-216-1072.