Apple forced to pay parents $32.5 million

Fruity cargo cult Apple will pay at least $32.5 million and change its billing practices in order to settle complaints over children racking up in-app purchases in iPhone games.

The Federal Trade Commission announced the agreement. The $32.5 million figure is a minimum refund amount to consumers and not a fine.

Apple settled a class action lawsuit in which it promised to refund purchases made by children either mistakenly or without consent.

Apple is furious that the FTC and the courts had not done what he told them and told the parents to go forth and multiply.

In an internal memo sent to Apple employees, CEO Tim “whinge” Cook moaned that the FTC’s complaint “smacked of double jeopardy,” and that the agreement “does not require us to do anything we weren’t already going to do”.

That would be all very well Tim, but why did it take the court case and the FTC case to make you change your billing process in the first place, editorialises Nick Farrell. Apple has fielded complaints from parents who discovered their kids had racked up huge bills for in-app purchases that needed little, if no verification to complete for years.

Whinge-Cook said that Apple will have  to change its billing practices so it has obtained express, informed consent from people before charging them for items sold in mobile apps.

By March 31, Apple must make sure it has customers’ consent before billing them for in-app purchases, but also “if the company gets consumers’ consent for future charges, consumers must have the option to withdraw their consent at any time”. Consumers are people too.

All the FTC had wanted was to point out that Apple violated the law by failing to notify parents that by entering a password, not only were they approving the immediate in-app purchase, but all in-app purchases made for the next 15 minutes, without additional action.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement that the settlement is a victory for consumers [people, Ed.] harmed by Apple’s unfair billing. It effectively stops Jobs’ Mob charging consumers [people, Ed] for [that’s enough, Nick. Ed.]