Apple now refunding unwanted in-app purchases

ios 7-1 in-app

Following numerous probes by government agencies and looming class action lawsuits the company is now facing around the world, Apple is finally reaching out to customers to inform them they may be entitled to refunds concerning unwanted in-app purchases made by minors due to weak iOS Restrictions at the time.

Last year, the iPhone maker reluctantly settled with the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding in-app purchases, agreeing to compensate consumers and modify its in-app billing system by March 31 to make things a little clearer for its customers…

Apple’s email communiqué provides refund instructions and reads as follows:

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.

You can access your purchase history in iTunes for Mac or Windows by hitting the button with your Apple ID on it, choosing Account from a drop-down menu and then clicking the See All link under the Purchase History section.

iTunes Purchase History
Note: I’ve blacked out my iTunes username for security purposes.

You can request a refund by contacting Apple.

All requests must be submitted by April 15, 2015.

Following your request, Apple should get in touch with you via email.

As part of Apple’s understanding with the FTC, the firm has earmarked a total of $32.5 million for refunds. By the way, iOS 7.1 has brought out a minor refinement to the iOS In-App Purchase mechanism which now warns users of the 15-minute cut-off window for in-app purchase.

“You can now make additional purchase in any app for the next 15 minutes without reentering your password, reads the prompt.

That change is, however, purely cosmetic as Apple has yet to introduce necessary changes to how it handles in-app purchases ahead of the March 31 deadline.

On top of the FTC settlement, Apple is also dealing with a handful of class-action lawsuits from disgruntled parents, in one instance having issued individual refunds to parents of up to $6,000.

Parents can disable in-app purchases system-wide under Restrictions in iOS Settings.

Could have Apple handled this issue better before it blew up?