Apple is changing its refund policy to help combat unintentional friendly fraud, most notably underage purchases.
A report from news source Reuters presented a situation originally depicted by internet advertising and marketing executive and avid iOS user Seana Mulcahy. Mulcahy’s son was able to rack up a high $60 bill within minutes after downloading a free game. On a separate occasion, by using a gift card, Mulcahy’s son Logan placed an additional 6 in-app purchases quickly exceeding the amount of the gift card.
“If this is happening to me, clearly this is happening to other people who are clueless about what their kids are doing,” Mulcahy says.
Apple’s AppStore is automatically set to request a password when an app is purchased or downloaded. After the password is entered a 15 minute window allows for additional AppStore and in-app purchases to take place without the need of a password.
After hordes of complaints to Apple’s customer support and billing department, the big A has begun taking steps to help iOS users in similar situations.
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This last week Apple sent an Email notification to all its iTunes and AppStore users regarding its new refund policy.
“We’ve heard from some customers that it was too easy for their kids to make in-app purchases. As a result, we’ve improved controls for parents so they can better manage their children’s purchases, or restrict them entirely. Additionally, we are offering refunds in certain cases.” Apple stated in the Email.
Apple has asked parents to check their iTunes purchase histories to see if any unauthorized charges were placed by minors. Apple has stated a deadline for reporting non-authorized charges of April 15 2015.
Apple’s Email to users follows a settlement posed by the Federal Trade Commission in which the company agreed to refund at least $32.5 million to its users. In addition to the settlement Apple was forced to modify its billing and refund policy to which every payment requires “informed consent from consumers.”
Apple’s main competitor in the mobile space Google and its Android operating system, in addition to 3rd party hardware manufacturers like Samsung and LG, have found ways to prevent unwanted App Market charges. Googles latest iteration of the operating system, 4.4 KitKat, has the option to add limited and restricted profiles to prevent unwanted purchases. Manufacturers with custom versions of Android have child oriented profiles that do not allow purchases to be placed.
With the amount of complaints ansd recent settlements, Apple will most likely be updating their OS to support restrictive profiles top prevent friendly fraud.