In January, a little girl made the news when she adorably asked her family’s Amazon Echo Dot for a dollhouse and cookies — and the Echo complied, delivering the products without her parents’ knowledge. That is, until they showed up on their doorstep. While that case was, admittedly, hilarious, Amazon is about to pay a large refund for similar purchases.
A year ago, a federal court sided with the Federal Trade Commission in a case against Amazon. The lawsuit alleged that Amazon's Appstore made it easy for kids to make purchases in games, such as buying additional coins, without needing a password or parental approval. A single purchase in a game could be a few dollars, but it could also be as much as $99.99. According to the FTC, parents had trouble receiving a refund for accidental purchases, given Amazon's no-refund policy for in-app buys.
Yesterday, appeals against the ruling ended, and Amazon will begin overseeing the payout of a $70 million refund. “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 a press release. “Consumers affected by Amazon’s practices can now be compensated for charges they didn’t expect or authorize.” Amazon isn't alone. The FTC notes that it brought similar cases against Apple and Google in the past.