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Apple to refund millions on apps

Parents hit with hundreds of pounds in unexpected charges when their children bought virtual pet food, gems or other items while playing games on mobile devices will be getting refunds from Apple.

The US Federal Trade Commission says Apple has agreed to refund at least 32.5 million US dollars (£20 million) to unsuspecting parents.

The FTC says Apple did not always make clear that parents were buying something when they entered their passwords for the apps their children were playing.

Tens of thousands of consumers complained.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said the company relented because the "consent decree" Apple agreed to does not, in his words, require the company to do anything it was not already going to do, so it decided to accept the agreement rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight.

Tech expert Martyn Landi, section editor with British-based iCreate Magazine in Bournemouth, said: "This is the right result after an unfortunate string of incidents involving in-app purchases.

"Yes, there is a very good argument that common sense was missing in some cases - either giving your password to your child or entering it for them and leaving them with the device.

"But at the same time it is true that password activation lasting 15 minutes, and the presence of in-app purchases in certain downloads hasn't always been well signposted in the App Store.

"Among more casual iOS users it's also not clear how many are aware these settings can be altered on your device.

"If it was, a lot of the hysteria surrounding this story would have been avoided I think."

The Office of Fair Trading announced an investigation in the UK last year after several high profile cases of children running up huge bills on their parents' iPads.

In some of the cases, Apple agreed to reimburse the customers.


From Belfast Telegraph