The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Amazon ended appeals related to a 2016 court ruling the online retailer unfairly billed consumers for in-app charges incurred by children.
In a statement, the FTC said ending the move should speed up the procedure for consumers to seek refunds from Amazon. More than $70 million in in-app charges levied between November 2011 and May 2016 are potentially eligible for refunds.
A federal district court in April 2016 found Amazon billed consumers for in-app charges made by children without the knowledge of their parent.
In the ruling, the court denied the FTC’s request for an injunction which would have forbidden Amazon from similar conduct in the future. The FTC wanted Amazon to change the process by which purchases can be made in the app store, “permanently banning the company from billing parents and other account holders for in-app charges without their consent”.
The FTC appealed the denial, and Amazon then counter-appealed the court’s ruling it had violated the law. The district court stayed its order requiring Amazon to offer refunds to consumers while the appeals were pending.
“This case demonstrates what should be a bedrock principle for all companies — you must get customers’ consent before you charge them,” said Thomas B. Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
In the past, the FTC reached settlements with Apple and Google related to such charges, resulting in consumer refunds totalling more than $50 million.