Canadians Not Included In Apple App Refund Program For Parents
Apple has issued a mass e-mail to iTunes customers in the US this week offering instructions to parents on how to file a refund with the company over accidental in-app purchases made by their children.
Although parents around the world have filed complaints regarding the issue, Apple Canada confirms that this is a US-only refund program.
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Here’s the e-mail currently being sent to parents in the US:
“Dear iTunes account owner,
Apple is committed to providing parents and kids with a great experience on the App Store. We review all app content before allowing it on our store, provide a wide range of age-appropriate content, and include parental controls in iOS to make it easy for parents to restrict or disable access to content.
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.
Please follow the steps to submit a refund request:
Find your in-app purchase records. Check your email for iTunes receipts or use a computer to sign in to your iTunes account and view your Purchase History.
Use this link to submit your refund request to Apple.
Provide the requested information and enter "Refund for in-App Purchases made by a minor" in the Details section.
Apple will review your request and contact you via email about your refund status. All refund requests must be submitted no later than April 15, 2015.”
The refund program is in response to an FTC ruling made this past January in which Apple agreed to pay out $32.5 million in refunds to parents. As that agreement only concerns the US market, Apple is under no obligation to offer a similar refund program outside of the country.
In recent years Apple has responded to the issue by adding additional steps to the purchase process, by labeling apps that contain In-App Purchases, and promoting the Restriction switch in the Settings section that turns off such purchases as a feature.
Last year Apple initiated a similar program in response to an earlier lawsuit, with 37,000 customers getting refunds. This second refund program comes as a response to a second lawsuit, this time from the FTC.
Here is Apple’s official response to the matter:
“Protecting children has been a top priority for the App Store from the very beginning, and Apple is proud to have set the gold standard for online stores by making the App Store a safe place for customers of all ages. Today's agreement with the FTC extends our existing refund program for in-app purchases which may have been made without a parent's permission.”
Apple hasn’t show any signs of discouraging the exploitive use of In-App Purchases amongst app creators as the growth of Free-To-Play or Freemium games is stronger than ever. Some of the biggest names and brands continue to invent new ways to create complicated virtual currencies aimed at encouraging players to spend a maximum amount of money.
Here in Canada your best bet is to turn off In-App Purchases as an option by:
Going to the Settings on your device
Clicking on General, then Restrictions.
And turning “In-App Purchases” off.