The parents of children who unintentionally racked up huge in-app purchase bills through the iOS App Store have begun receiving emails from Apple with information about how to seek compensation from the company.
The email, which is sent by ‘Apple In-App Purchase Litigation Administrator’, explains that 23 million parents who are part of a class action settlement in the US regarding in-app purchases are able to apply for compensation until 13 January 2014.
To be eligible for compensation, which can be either iTunes Store credit or a cash refund in some cases, parents must have paid for Qualified Game Currency Charges (‘Qualified Apps’ means all apps from Apple’s App Store in the games category with an age rating of 4+, 9+ or 12+ that offer in-app purchases of consumable game currency), that a child charged to the iTunes account without permission and without requesting for a password to be entered.
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Parents will be able to claim a $5 iTunes gift card for charges of under $30, says the email, while the maximum compensation can be the total amount charged via in-app purchases during a single 45-day period without the bill-payers permission.
In February, Apple reached a settlement for the lawsuit, which was first filed in California back in April 2011, and the total compensation is expected to reach about £66 million.
In the UK, the Office of Fair Trading is investigating iOS Apps and other web and phone games that are aimed at children over in-app purchases and hidden extras.
This year, s five-year-old from Bristol spent £1,700 on the Zombies versus Ninjas game, and in another case a father sued after his son spent £3,700 on an App Store game Plants vs Zombies and NOVA 3. An eight-year-old boy racked up a bill of almost £1000 while playing a Simpsons game too.
Following this year’s bout of incidences that saw parents faced with huge iTunes bills after their kids had unwittingly downloaded in-app purchases, Apple has highlighted its “Parents’ Guide to iTunes” section in the UK App Store’s Featured tab.
The “Parents’ Guide to iTunes” offers advice about Apple ID Passwords, limiting the amount children can spend through the use of Gift Cards, the Parental Controls available on iOS devices, and device Passcodes to stop children from being able to access the iPad or iPhone at all.
Additionally, Apple has also introduced a disclosure to apps in its App Store, to alert customers to the fact that the app has in-app purchases.
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