By Alexandra Burlacu | Feb 26, 2013 11:02 AM EST
Apple agreed to offer $5 iTunes gift cards, the same amount in cash, or a full refund for initial charges over $30 for in-app purchases.
More precisely, the Cupertino giant agreed to settle a lawsuit wagered by a group of angry parents who sued Apple after their kids spent a lot on in-app purchases.
The lawsuit goes back to April 2011, when plaintiffs argued that Apple's in-app purchasing process was too easy for children to stack up fees on their parents' credit cards. The settlement brings an end to the lengthy suit.
Plaintiffs in the case alleged that their children were buying game currencies without knowing they were spending hundreds of dollars of their parents' hard-earned, real-world money. Under the settlement, plaintiffs will receive a $5 iTunes gift cards or the equivalent in cash for most claims, while those who saw charges of more than $30 can file for a full refund.
Basically, children were doing what children do best: playing and then looking to play some more. What they didn't realize, however, was that they were unwittingly charging $99 to more than $300 worth of in-game content to the credit cards their parents linked to their iTunes accounts, states the lawsuit.
The so-called "bait apps," or "freemium" apps, apparently stand at the very core of this irritating issue. Such apps are available for download at no cost, but provide in-app upgrades that sometimes cost more than $100.
Apple went under fire for the way it implemented iTunes account passwords, which allowed users to spend a certain amount of time on the service before being prompted for a password. The iOS 4.3 update addressed this issue with the password window.
Apple, meanwhile, argued that parents do have the ability to stop their kids from buying the digital goodies, but its argument did not manage to do much. The deed was done, and parents who felt cheated wanted their money back.
A federal judge still has to approve a preliminary assessment of the settlement. After a judge gives the green light and all claims are filed, Apple will have to start rolling out payments. This could happen as early as the end of 2013.
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