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Amazon Fighting FTC Over In-App Purchases Fine

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the right-to-profit dept.

Businesses 137

An anonymous reader writes One of the common problems of the smartphone generation has been parents who given their phones to children, who then rack up hundreds of dollars of in-app purchases without the parents' knowledge. The FTC smacked Apple with a fine for this, and Google is facing a lawsuit as well. Now, Amazon is the latest target, having received a complaint from the FTC demanding a similar settlement to Apple's. Amazon, however, is not willing to concede the fine; they plan to fight it. Amazon said, "The Commission's unwillingness to depart from the precedent it set with Apple despite our very different facts leaves us no choice but to defend our approach in court (PDF). The main claim in the draft complaint is that we failed to get customers' informed consent to in-app charges made by children and did not address that problem quickly or effectively enough in response to customer complaints. We have continually improved our experience since launch, but even at launch, when customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn't want, we refunded those purchases."

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Amazon fighting FTC over Sales of Goatsex (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389395)

Enjoy! [goatse.fr]

It's Intended (4, Informative)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | about 2 months ago | (#47389399)

There is no doubt in my mind this was part of the ROI model when they were thinking up ways to pilfer your dollars in somewhat covert ways... there is also no doubt they can make this effort much more transparent for the same reason.

It's Intended (3, Insightful)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 2 months ago | (#47389453)

The problem here is that parents/kids don't have enough authentication to block purchases being made by the wrong person... there really should be better security like face recognition to say "Uhm, kid, that costs money!" or "Parent, you can't spend your kid's money for them!"

Re:It's Intended (5, Informative)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 2 months ago | (#47389507)

In app purchases should be banned. They're horrible for the industry, in some cases they're no better than gambling (ie: buy tokens to feed into this jackpot like system to win a random digital item!). At the very least they should have a maximum any one user can spend before everything becomes free.

Re:It's Intended (3, Insightful)

maeka (518272) | about 2 months ago | (#47389585)

in some cases they're no better than gambling (ie: buy tokens to feed into this jackpot like system to win a random digital item!)

Not that I disagree with you, but what part of the gaming industry isn't preying off of exactly the same neurons as gambling? Nearly every game, be you buying the game itself, in-game purchases, or DLC, is getting its revenue almost entirely due to exploiting pleasure-seeking behavior.

Re:It's Intended (4, Interesting)

causality (777677) | about 2 months ago | (#47389651)

in some cases they're no better than gambling (ie: buy tokens to feed into this jackpot like system to win a random digital item!)

Not that I disagree with you, but what part of the gaming industry isn't preying off of exactly the same neurons as gambling? Nearly every game, be you buying the game itself, in-game purchases, or DLC, is getting its revenue almost entirely due to exploiting pleasure-seeking behavior.

Gaming typically relies on skill, not chance. If you play most games long enough, you'll be able to consistently beat certain levels. If you win at the roulette wheel, you're no more likely than before to win again. That's the difference. Otherwise, "exploiting pleasure-seeking behavior" could be stretched to describe every last industry in existence beyond the sales of food, water, shelter, and basic utilities.

With the model of directly purchasing the game itself (and no in-game purchases, like standard PC/console gaming) you can at least read about the game and have a reasonable expectation about what you are paying for. The real problem with in-game purchases is that the game is "free" or low-cost in the most technical sense, but after you invest many hours advancing the game you find that you can't really prosper without making additional purchases. It could be construed as a form of bait-and-switch.

The other problem would be that many of these games are aimed at children who make purchases the parents later get stuck with, but this problem begins in the home and should be solved within the home by actual parenting. That's not as convenient as using the tablet like a cheap babysitter but it would certainly be more worthwhile. If you wanted to solve this by government action, that's simple too: declare that these purchases are contractual in nature (the parent agreed to pay charges made to the phone bill or whatever) and that minors who make them cannot be held to a contract, therefore the companies cannot collect money when children make them. *Poof* - end of shitty business model.

Re:It's Intended (1)

maeka (518272) | about 2 months ago | (#47389661)

ty

Re:It's Intended (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 2 months ago | (#47389853)

The only in app purchasing I can't decide is legit or not is Collectible Card games... Buying pre-defined sets of cards is fine, no different than DLC, though it severely limits the fun. Are the randomized packs akin to gambling or a necessary evil of the genre? If there was no randomness then buying individual cards/decks just becomes an "outspend" the other guy and developers could just keep upping the ante slightly so new cards are always a little better than the old ones.

Not sure...

Re:It's Intended (3, Insightful)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 2 months ago | (#47389803)

The pleasure seeking isn't the problem, it's the money->chance->loop. When you buy a game outright/DLC/etc it's a fixed cost no matter what actual mechanics are in the game. The moment you buy tokens (or gems or whatever name they want to put on it) and you're feeding it into something that has any sort of random generator it creates an entirely different dynamic. Companies would have a vested interest in tweaking the "randomness" of an item/game mechanic/etc.

Same issue arises with non-random items. Take a game that sells health packs - the developers could tweak damage output without the user knowing to encourage more purchases.

Re:It's Intended (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 months ago | (#47391167)

what part of the gaming industry isn't preying off of exactly the same neurons as gambling?

It's just fine if they 'prey' off the exact same neurons as gambling. Selling a game package for a fixed dollar amount, or a subscription fee agreed upon before you start playing should be just fine. The customer is agreeing to payment for entertainment, which is clearly without coercion, since they have not started playing yet.

Selling an 'expansion pack' containing additional content while users are not playing the game should also be legal, as long as the expansion pack is announced in advance and not prompted for purchase in the game, or given a 'sample' of the expansion.

The player has not been exposed to this pleasure yet, therefore they can make a rational choice.

What should not be legal for any video game:

1.) Selling "replays" or re-attempts to try again. For example: no selling additional lives or continues, or the ability to perform any task within an app must not be a "consumable" that more can be obtained by making a purchase, or other activities outside the app (such as sharing with X friends).

2.) Selling ability to access something shown or advertised in game, for example as a "locked" mission, "premium" campaign, or "bonus option", should be illegal.

3.) Selling an ability to skip any mission, challenge, level, or allow faster completion, should be illegal.

4.) Selling player "strength enhancements", powerups, extra health, extra uses of a special ability, or other reduction of difficulty.

5.) Selling badges, awards, or other recognition of gameplay abilities or player customizations.

6.) Selling additional "time" playing the game, or additional "spins", "turns", or "plays" should be illegal ---- for example, limiting the number of times a certain challenge can be attempted per day, but allowing players to pay a premium, subscribe to a premium service, or share with X friends, for additional plays: should be illegal.

Re:It's Intended (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 2 months ago | (#47392013)

Selling an 'expansion pack' containing additional content while users are not playing the game should also be legal, as long as the expansion pack is announced in advance and not prompted for purchase in the game, or given a 'sample' of the expansion.

Why? People can show me adverts for a game I don't own already to make me want to buy it. What is so magically different about showing me an advert in the game for something else that it needs laws creating to stop it?

2.) Selling ability to access something shown or advertised in game, for example as a "locked" mission, "premium" campaign, or "bonus option", should be illegal.

If I go into a bar and order a beer does the bar owner have to hide all the more expensive beers, food etc so that I can't be tempted with it. Should the waitress be locked up if she asks if I'd like another? "on a computer" or "in a game" doesn't make something an entirely new concept. Upselling, expansions, try before buying etc have existed for decades and we don't need a dozen new laws to make doing it in computer games.

Re:It's Intended (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 months ago | (#47390385)

If you cant control yourself, then its your problem, not the app makers. Perhaps you need to seek professional help for your lack of control/addiction.

Re:It's Intended (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 2 months ago | (#47391799)

I have no issue thank you, I refuse to support games with that type of business model.

The app makers are preying on children who haven't developed an understanding of money/self-control and those with addiction/impulse issues - how is that not their fault?

Re:It's Intended (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47391979)

The industry loves them, what are you on about? Apple take 30% off each transaction, that's why they're one of the largest valued companies on the planet. Developers love them because they can make shovelware games very quickly, flood the market and know enough kids will not be locked out due to the default settings on devices, which are chosen to ensure this happens.

Apple forced cc and password for free apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389697)

Now you don't need an cc to get an apple id but still why an password for for the free apps? Wh3y not just for payed stuff? Also the old 15 min thing where after buying an free app that it opens up an no password needed to buy stuff at cost

Re:Apple forced cc and password for free apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389851)

They don't actually even though they hide the option to sign up without one. When you try to sign up through the create an account page in iTunes it requires a credit card. However if you click buy on a free app and create an account that way you aren't required to enter credit card information.

Re:Apple forced cc and password for free apps (2)

jonbryce (703250) | about 2 months ago | (#47390257)

I opened my apple account with an iTunes gift card. That way my maximum loss is limited to whatever is left of the £15 balance on the card. I have purchased a couple of apps with some of the credit.

Re:Apple forced cc and password for free apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390373)

If you register through their jobs portal, it doesn't ask for cc information.

Re: Apple forced cc and password for free apps (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390215)

If the next word starts with a consonant sound, use "a" instead of "an".
An apple -- vowel sound
A password -- consonant sound

Re:It's Intended (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 months ago | (#47390675)

The legal requirement is the seller is to ensure the person making the purchase is the holder of the credit card, nothing more and nothing less. The commonly extort payment by threatening the holder of the card children with criminal charges even when under law the minor they threaten is to young to enter a contract. So the courts need to rule on real and actual harm. What is the real and actual harm engendered by a minor making a false purchase of a virtual product, would the parent have ever allowed the purchase, is the virtual product devalued and now second hand, is there a restocking cost of the virtual product ie what are the real and actual damages of the cancellation of the virtual product. Now that virtual product also logically has to extend to downloaded content, again, no devaluation of product, no restocking and the end user paid the delivery costs. So legal common sense needs to surmount insensate psychopathic greed. There is a penalty for failing to properly authenticate the purchaser and really as it is fraud and theft that penalty should be revised and made far more severe.

It's not just the refund (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 2 months ago | (#47389401)

I think Amazon's problem is going to be that just refunding the purchases doesn't help the parents. If the kid maxes out the credit-card on in-app purchases, the parents have to deal not just with those purchases but the fees and interest from over-limit charges on the card and/or the additional costs associated with any declined charges (eg. if I pay a bill on-line using my card and the charge is declined, I get hit for late fees and possibly service disconnections). Having this happen when you're out-of-town (eg. the kid does this while the family's on vacation, and when you go to check out of the hotel you can't pay your hotel bill and you have to figure out why without being able to check your accounts on-line to see what unexpected charges are there). The only acceptable way of handling things is what Amazon should've done from the start: once parental controls are turned on in an app, all actions that would cause a charge or affect parental controls always require a PIN (and ideally there'd be an option to say "don't allow charges period until parental controls are turned off again").

Re:It's not just the refund (4, Insightful)

Xenx (2211586) | about 2 months ago | (#47389461)

People aren't willing to accept responsibility for themselves and their kids. We shouldn't be forcing the companies to accept the responsibility instead. If you don't agree with how Amazon does it, don't buy their devices or use their appstore. If they feel they're losing too many customers based on their business practices.. they'll change them. Either way, they shouldn't be targeted by the FTC.

Re:It's not just the refund (3, Informative)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | about 2 months ago | (#47389531)

"People aren't willing to accept responsibility for themselves and their kids" Buillshit. The practice is deceptive and industry is play on the ignorance of the consumer.

Re:It's not just the refund (1, Insightful)

Xenx (2211586) | about 2 months ago | (#47389743)

If you can't take the time to learn how to use your tablet, you shouldn't use the tablet. If your kids don't know how to use the tablet, they shouldn't use the tablet. It really isn't too much to ask people to actually be at least halfway responsible with their choices. Admittedly, I am technical support for an ISP... and I'm a bit jaded. But, I get to see some of the worst when it comes to people not understanding the first thing about the devices they feel they NEED to have.

Re: It's not just the refund (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390143)

If I can can confuse your children or you into spending money when you didn't want to or you thought you weren't can I keep it?

Re: It's not just the refund (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390245)

If Amazon was confusing users, sure they should be fined for fraud or deceptive marketing practices. I'm just wondering what you find confusing about "in-app purchases". They are purchases that made from within an app. When you make them, the app tells you it will cost real money and how much it will cost. If this is something that confuses you, perhaps you shouldn't own a credit card. Or have any control of your money.

Re: It's not just the refund (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 2 months ago | (#47390637)

Amazon is confusing users by making it so that setting the parental controls to "no in-app purchases allowed" leaves the game in a condition where in-app purchases are still allowed. If I get in a car, put the car into Reverse to back out of a parking spot, then put it in Drive to go forward, a reasonable person would expect the car to go forward. They wouldn't expect it to continue to act as if it were in Reverse for another few minutes before the Reverse setting expired and it began to act in accordance with the gearshift setting. Similarly when you set the parental controls in an app you'd expect the app to act according to the controls, not to ignore your setting for several more minutes because you've entered the password recently (as part of setting the parental controls, not to authorize purchases).

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47389713)

If you don't agree with how Amazon does it, don't buy their devices or use their appstore.

The problem with your "free market solution" is that most people are unaware of Amazon's policies until after they bought the device, bought the app, and have the charges on their card. Markets work well when people are well informed. But, in this case, people are NOT well informed, and Amazon has been intentionally deceptive.

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 months ago | (#47390317)

The problem with your "free market solution" is that most people are unaware of Amazon's policies until after they bought the device

Why is it amazons problem that people are stupid?

Re:It's not just the refund (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390503)

Why is it amazons problem that people are stupid?

I bet you believe rape victims were just asking for it too and deserve what they got.

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 months ago | (#47389721)

Why? In what way is it better to have companies allowed to fleece children and their parents like this? What benefit is there to allowing it?

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

eclectro (227083) | about 2 months ago | (#47389761)

What benefit is there to allowing it?

Because he is a developer on Slashdot who likes the way things are presently done.

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

Xenx (2211586) | about 2 months ago | (#47389813)

A customer's stupidity isn't the fault of the company, it's the fault of the customer. It's all well and good to want the company to change things and to express that. It's not ok to blame them for your inability to understand what you're getting into and make the FTC clean up your mess.

Re:It's not just the refund (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 months ago | (#47389911)

Answer the question. In what way is what you suggest better?

Right now you are blaming those parents that have been caught out by unknowing kids rather than the businesses who created their business models intending that exact thing.

At the moment you are presenting no reason that wouldn't also say phishing and spamming are OK and should be allowed. That you think that people that aren't 100 per cent in control of everything 100% of the time deserve to be ripped off. And that's somehow good.

Re:It's not just the refund (2)

Xenx (2211586) | about 2 months ago | (#47390061)

Seriously? Personal accountability should always be first and foremost. You, as a person, should be responsible for your actions. You're suggesting that the companies should be forced to be accountable for you. You're saying it's ok for our populace to not care they don't know the first thing about what they're doing. Someone else will take care of it for them.

Re:It's not just the refund (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47391713)

Seriously? Personal accountability should always be first and foremost. You, as a person, should be responsible for your actions. You're suggesting that the companies should be forced to be accountable for you.

In that case, the corporation who you wish to protect should be dissolved, since they are significantly a means of reducing accountability and responsibility.

Otherwise, how else can they live up to your standard of personal accountability?

You're saying it's ok for our populace to not care they don't know the first thing about what they're doing. Someone else will take care of it for them.

Or we're saying it's not ok to take advantage of the populace, and no matter what excuses you make, you will be held accountable for it.

Re:It's not just the refund (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 months ago | (#47390339)

Right now you are blaming those parents that have been caught out

Yes. Right where the blame belongs.

We arent talking about fraud here. Amazon isn't pretending that the in-app purchases are free and then charging people anyways. Quite the contrary.

If you really dont want to be responsible for your actions, then let me take control of your life. You will love it. Living in a room with no windows (sunlight gives you cancer) or electricity (electricity is dangerous.) The door is locked because wandering around the world is dangerous. You will earn food by performing simple safe tasks for me. No plumbing because that might be dangerous. Clothing wont e allowed because you might get tangled. The walls will be padded because I cant trust that you will understand the sign that says dont repeatedly slam your head into the wall. All nice and safe. You. Will. Love. It.

If you doubt that you will love it, then maybe you should change your stance on personal fucking responsibility .

64 Shades of Gray (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390825)

If you really dont want to be responsible for your actions, then let me take control of your life. You will love it. Living in a room with no windows (sunlight gives you cancer) or electricity (electricity is dangerous.) The door is locked because wandering around the world is dangerous. You will earn food by performing simple safe tasks for me. No plumbing because that might be dangerous. Clothing wont e allowed because you might get tangled. The walls will be padded because I cant trust that you will understand the sign that says dont repeatedly slam your head into the wall. All nice and safe. You. Will. Love. It.

Locked door? "Simple tasks"? No clothing?... The whole thing comes across disturbingly like your subconscious has inadvertantly recycled (and leaked) your sex-slave bdsm dungeon fantasy.

You will earn food by performing simple safe tasks for me.

Not that safe, you can still catch diseases that way... :-O

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 months ago | (#47390175)

People aren't willing to accept responsibility for themselves and their kids. We shouldn't be forcing the companies to accept the responsibility instead. If you don't agree with how Amazon does it, don't buy their devices or use their appstore. If they feel they're losing too many customers based on their business practices.. they'll change them. Either way, they shouldn't be targeted by the FTC.

When I was a kid there wasn't some little box that both let me play games and run up a $1000 credit card bill. In order to spend my parent's money I'd need to get their wallet and drive to a store, or try to order something over the phone (and NOBODY would accept a phone order from some 6 year old). I doubt I'd have any idea what to do with a checkbook at that age.

Sure, I'm all for teaching responsibility, but giving device owners reasonable options for preventing unauthorized access to spending money is just basic sense. The same is true of things like pay-per-view - if some cable company had a big BUY button on the remote control that if you pushed it twice automatically tuned to a PPV station and bought the first thing on the list without an option for a PIN, then you'd see outrage over that as well.

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 months ago | (#47390343)

When I was a kid there wasn't some little box that both let me play games and run up a $1000 credit card bill.

Yes there was. It was called a telephone.

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 2 months ago | (#47392039)

The same is true of things like pay-per-view - if some cable company had a big BUY button on the remote control that if you pushed it twice automatically tuned to a PPV station and bought the first thing on the list without an option for a PIN, then you'd see outrage over that as well.

If that was clearly explained functionality then I expect you'd find very quick;y that no one would use that company. If it wasn't defined functionality or was a bug, then you'd see people suing the company for the error. You see outrage from people who order dishes with warnings about hot, then can't eat them and expect refunds; the presence of outrage isn't proof of the presence of something to reasonable to be outraged about.

The only real question to me is whether Amazon have done anything to encourages users to feel safe letting kids use their tablets, and if so has it been secured to a reasonable extent. It sounds like there is some confusing behaviour around unlocking in-app purchases when doing other things, which could mean they fail that test.

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

zr (19885) | about 2 months ago | (#47390511)

completely missing the point.

unless companies help the parents out the only sane option for the parents is to shut off access to paid content completely, as it yank CC info.

who lost? exactly.

this is not about responsibility, this is business in the free market, pure and simple.

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390539)

This is a simple case of Amazon failing to follow the rules of credit card charges. Amazon benefits from the practice of storing credit card information; if they don't adequately protect that stored information in a way which allows unauthorized charges to be made they should be held accountable for that lack of proper responsibility.

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 2 months ago | (#47390553)

So you honestly don't think this process is intentionally deceptive? If so, why do the games all have some sort of "abstraction mechanism" for money (money becomes Smurfberries, coins, tokens, balloons, etc) "Smurfs' Village" has an age rating of 8. Does someone who is only 8 understand that when they are spending what are now "Smurfberries" are actually real money?

If this is the case, why does almost every country in the world have special laws around children and their inability to enter into contracts? I think there is some truth to the fact the parents are not careful, but the game makers and "stores" also do what they can to help facilitate this sort of thing.

How hard is it to open an account on some platforms without entering in your CC number? If the game is "free" why do you need a CC at all?

PS. Agree with you on the lack of accepting responsibility. Ever since the 1990's the world has moved to a "its not my fault because" stance. This is not just about not accepting responsibility, it is about targeting kids with "in-app" purchases.

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 2 months ago | (#47392045)

Does someone who is only 8 understand that when they are spending what are now "Smurfberries" are actually real money?

Why would you give someone who is 8 a device on which they have all the details they need to spend real money? Also, when they buy in game currency that screen will explicitly say how much real money you're spending. It's misleading to pretend that an 8 year old wouldn't be aware they were spending real money.

Re:It's not just the refund (2, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 months ago | (#47389467)

I suppose it depends on how old the kids are. But really, if the kid is old enough to have their own phone then the parents need to do some better parenting. The first step I would take is to give them a Tracfone. Don't like being uncool? Learn that actions have consequences.

Re: It's not just the refund (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 2 months ago | (#47389491)

I think this lawsuit is more about the Kindle Fire, which is sold as a kid acceptable tablet, not the Fire Phone, which has barely even launched.

Re:It's not just the refund (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 months ago | (#47391275)

I think Amazon's problem is going to be that just refunding the purchases doesn't help the parents. If the kid maxes out the credit-card on in-app purchases, the parents have to deal not just with those purchases but the fees and interest from over-limit charges

Top recommendations: (1) Use a $20 pre-paid debit card as the CC loaded on your Tablet for in-app purchases, OR a Virtual Account Number (VAN),

Note... however.... I am sure Amazon themself should have a limit on the amount of in-app purchases, and if there's a sudden unusual deviation from your normal pattern of purchases, your CC company is likely to flag it as possible fraud and call you.

Basically they don't want to codify it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389405)

so they can change the policy later when it suits them.

The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (5, Informative)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 2 months ago | (#47389409)

Nope, they need the penalty.

The Amazon AppStore app seems to have an update every two weeks. Every time it updates itself, it resets the values for IAP and parental controls. You need to manually go in after every update, disable IAP and confirm with the password, then manually reset the parental controls and confirm with the password. EVERY FREAKING TIME.

There was one instance (that I know of) that I didn't reset the parental controls and IAP flags after an update, and sure enough, that was when the kids discovered it and went on a spending spree.

NO EXCUSE for resetting the flags every update. They know about it. It isn't a bug, it is a feature that enables profits.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (4, Informative)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 months ago | (#47389447)

Glad we didn't have this in the 70's. I don't think my sister or I would have survived the beating.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389685)

No kidding LOL. How can kids today possibly expect to spend their parents money without asking and not face discipline as a result? Makes zero sense.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (-1, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 months ago | (#47389539)

that was when the kids discovered it and went on a spending spree.

Sounds like you dont make a very good parent. Typical to blame others for your incompetency. You ( and many others ) have raised heathen children with no respect. You are the problem, not amazon.

What is next, blame Ford because your kid was able to steal your keys off your dresser and wreck the car while you are sleeping? Or blame the garden center for selling you the rocks your children use to throw at passing cars? Step up and be a parent.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (5, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | about 2 months ago | (#47389629)

What is next, blame Ford because your kid was able to steal your keys off your dresser and wreck the car while you are sleeping?

...if Ford made the key fob in the shape of a cartoon character with a voice chip that kept saying "Hey kids! Pick me up and lets go for a drive" then, maybe.

Yes, parents should take responsibility for their kids - but that doesn't give businesses the right to exploit their slightest lapse.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389633)

If the parental controls do not work then indeed the company should be blamed. and resetting the password on updates is a bug. what if Ford came with seatbelts on the backseats that needed to be re-fastened by the soccer-mom at random intervals to avoid them not working in case of emergency? Cars are recalled for mistakes like that.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389691)

Nothing the previous poster said makes them not a good parent. You can't totally prevent your child from making mistakes, nor should you. If you think that someone's children making a few wasteful purchases means they're an "incompetent" parent then you've clearly never been a parent yourself.

As for your analogy, hell yes, you would blame Ford if its ignition randomly reset on its own to a state where keys weren't needed to start the car. The other garden center analogy is pointless because he didn't say anything about his kids doing anything risky or harmful, and shame on you for inferring that.

Frankly, you lowbrow types are really annoying with your constant screeches of "take responsibility." How about have an original thought, goober? Slashdot used to be a place where you could actually have thought-provoking conversations with NERDS, now it's overrun by numbskull DeVry graduates who think they have things already figured out and can't be bothered to ask questions or have an idea that wasn't already a worn-out talking point ten years ago.

Seriously, look at yourself. Where the FUCK do you get off calling someone you don't even know an incompetent parent? "No respect." You don't even see the irony. You should be ashamed.

I apologize to everyone else on this thread for perpetuating this derail, but I'm so sick and tired of these asshole internet tough guys. Please downvote them when you can.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 months ago | (#47390333)

Frankly, you lowbrow types are really annoying with your constant screeches of "take responsibility." How about have an original thought, goober?

Sounds like your parents failed too. And, as far as me calling someone i dont know a 'bad parent', i dont need to know him ( or her ). He clearly gave an example of bad his parenting skills.

Want to try again, child?

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about 2 months ago | (#47390549)

Do you have children, nurb?

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 months ago | (#47390589)

Yes. And they know better. They were raised to know the difference between right and wrong and can think on their own.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390713)

There is no difference between "right" and "wrong", they're mental constructs that we invent to keep an artificial "forward momentum" going.
"right" and "wrong" are situational, subjective, invented ideas we force on "everyone" to try and convince people what to do.

You go on thinking that you're "making the world a better place" by "raising your kids right". Doesn't make it true to anyone but you though.

Oh, and have a wonderful day!

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47391113)

Your (supposed) children never make mistakes? If you believe this then you are even more deluded than you sound.

> And, as far as me calling someone i dont know a 'bad parent', i dont need to know him ( or her ). He clearly gave an example of bad his parenting skills.

That's not even English. Secondly, being a parent is like being a child in that you can make mistakes. A single mistake doesn't make you a bad parent or a bad child. Far from it; the best way to learn is to make mistakes and to recover from them. Although it's clearly a waste of time explaining this to you when further downthread you post:

> I honestly dont care if anyone agrees or not. I'm right. Period. If someone is too stupid to realize that, its their problem not mine.

Not only do you grossly overestimate your intelligence, you don't even pass the self-awareness test. Clearly you do care if people agree with you, otherwise, you wouldn't be here spouting off. That is a basic concept of communication.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 2 months ago | (#47391153)

"Not only do you grossly overestimate your intelligence, you don't even pass the self-awareness test."
Well put.
the part where they write "I'm right. Period...." seemed pretty arrogant.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 2 months ago | (#47391207)

So, they were raised to know the difference between right and wrong and also can think on their own?

What if they think that something you told them was "wrong" is in fact "right"?

I have three kids, and for reference i am strongly against these "in app" purchases which target kids because of this exact problem. My kids have androids and use their own account which doesnt have a CC card so they cant buy anything. Flip side, it is somewhat annoying when they get a game advertised as "free" only to be constantly hounded for "in app" purchases. More annoying when said "in app" purchase bait-n-switch game stated it was age appropriate when clearly it is not.

Not sure about your country, but this probably holds true in yours as well....

"Generally, minors cannot be bound to contracts because they are not old enough to enter them. In many cases, if someone does enter a contract with a minor, the minor has the ability to have the contract deemed void. On the other hand, if an adult breaches a contract with a minor, the minor can hold him liable."

How does a child agree to make an in-app purchase when they have a legal right to have it become void? Heck, even the "agreement" they "signed" to use the device is probably not legally binding in the first place. (NOTE: IANAL)

This smells of false advertising, and i suspect if a bricks and mortar company did this they would be in court facing "bait and switch" charges.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (2)

dk20 (914954) | about 2 months ago | (#47390569)

Oh boy, you resorted to name calling so you clearly won the argument.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 months ago | (#47390603)

How is making an honest observation 'name calling'? You sound like a child, so i used the term. Even if you are not in age, you do have the mind of a child.

"dumbass child" would have been name calling. Besides, who was arguing? I was simply stating reality.

And for the record, this 'required time between' posts is ludicrous. Some of us can think faster than that..

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 2 months ago | (#47390711)

If you are hitting slashdot's required time between posts, it might be a hint that you are posting too much?

Look up the meaning of the word "argument"...
"a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong."

So you were not trying to persuade others?

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 months ago | (#47390775)

If there was any arguing, it was on your part only. I honestly dont care if anyone agrees or not. I'm right. Period. If someone is too stupid to realize that, its their problem not mine.

So 2 posts is "too much"? If i try to post a 3rd time i get the delay. I wouldn't call 3 posts in a row too much, and the operators here can take their limit and shove it..

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47391135)

> Some of us can think faster than that..

Do you really need the most basic things explained to you? Apparently so.

The "required time between posts" rule would clearly ONLY EFFECT the people who can think (or your case at least, write) faster than the delay. If your thinking/writing processes were too slow to hit the limit, you would never notice it in the first place. So at best you're stating the obvious. At worst you don't understand why how fast you can think (write) is a tangential issue - the real goals are to deincentivize spammers, and to short circuit half-wits from hijacking threads by unnecessarily responding to a bunch of posts with the same regurgitated pablum over and over, as you have been doing.

Don't you have imaginary kids to tuck in, or something?

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (4, Insightful)

eclectro (227083) | about 2 months ago | (#47389741)

They know about it. It isn't a bug, it is a feature that enables profits.

The games are purposefully engineered to be faulty so that you are *required* to make an in app purchase. And with the 'one click' nature of the in app purchases, it is easy for the game to make a purchase for you - either by mistake or by design!

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 2 months ago | (#47389885)

THIS!

All of the excuses about how parents should know how the device works and blah blah blah cannot overcome this. Even if the parents do exactly what the scolds demand, Amazon goes behind their back and un-does it, contrary to reasonable expectation.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 months ago | (#47390369)

Even if the parents do exactly what the scolds demand

Looks to me like they demand that the parents take responsibility. How does anything said here undermine that?

Take Some Fucking Responsibility. Thats your kid, chief. You are letting your kid use a device that can charge up thousands of dollars in credit card bills, completely unsupervised, and you want to blame someone other than yourself?

Thats your fucking kid, chief. Be a fucking parent. Good parents dont let their children do that. Yes, this means that you arent a good parent Suck it up and be a better one.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390409)

So now people aren't good parents if they don't track version updates, because the version updates are designed to eliminate the controls the parents already set up.
 
Even as someone without kids, I can say with certainty that you are a fucking tool.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 months ago | (#47390465)

The parents set it to NO in app purchases. They have good reason to believe that they have controlled the risk. Then Amazon sneaks in and un-sets it. Perhaps they should take some "Fucking Responsability".

I suppose if an airplane crashes on the house you'll blame the parents for the kid's injuries too?

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 months ago | (#47390513)

The parents set it to NO in app purchases.

Yes, and?

They have good reason to believe that they have controlled the risk.

Lazy bad parent reasons.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 2 months ago | (#47391295)

When i purchase something online using Amazon it asks me to re-enter my credit card number. I dont use amazon to do in-app purchase, but i suspect this "anti-fraud" requirement is not present?

If they required you to re-enter the credit-card at purchase time it would address a lot of this.

Are you serious? They used Amazons own controls to reduce the risk, and you still claim "lazy bad parent reasons"?

Perhaps you can explain why a game rated at age 8 allows in-app purchases? DO a lot of adults play Smurf world or such? So the app developers target children intentionally for in-app purchases?

As i posted elsewhere here, you know a child can invalidate any contract they have entered into right?

Read that again, children have a LEGAL RIGHT to void any contract they enter into. So asking for a refund for in-app purchases made by a minor should be legal, they are simply voiding their purchase.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 months ago | (#47391445)

Are you serious? They used Amazons own controls to reduce the risk, and you still claim "lazy bad parent reasons"?

Yes.

Stop blaming other people for what your child is doing. Man up and be a father.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 2 months ago | (#47392357)

Your argument seems to fail logic 101. The people in question used Amazons tools to protect them from this problem. Had amazon simply used the same rules for in app purchases as they do for their own online site this wouldn't have happened.

Regardless, the law is often based on previous cases and each time this comes to the courts the company in question has lost and given refunds.

Let me guess, you develop games with in-app purchase and so you naturally want to exploit this loophole?

As i have stated before, my kids have never had this issue as i made them create their own google play accounts and they dont have CC numbers. Flip side it is clear the companies involved shoulder some responsiblity as well.

It is hard to debate that when a company targets children with in-app purchases they are attempting to exploit them.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 2 months ago | (#47392053)

So asking for a refund for in-app purchases made by a minor should be legal, they are simply voiding their purchase.

There's no reason to interpret voiding a contract as requiring that a payment be returned. There would also be issues around the fact the child has no contract with the credit card provider, and that the person who does will have a contract with the credit card provider which they almost certainly broke by allowing someone else to use it.

None of the above says in-app purchases are right. I just wanted to clarify that the rules regarding children and contracts probably don't impact in the way you suggest.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390521)

Sounds to me like you're one of the slimeball developers that was profiting off of this.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47391197)

Yeah, it's the kind of lapse in understanding that almost never occurs unless it contradicts how that person makes money. Despite what some movies portray, no one really wants to accept that they're acting like a scumbag.

Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 2 months ago | (#47391245)

And when should the company take responsibility for entering into a contract with a minor which can not be enforced?

um... how bout... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389489)

um... how bout... we don't give our children expensive toys... especially ones that have the ability to rack up bills.

Now I get it... you don't want your kids to feel left out... but seriously when did it become a good idea to give your child the smartphone/device? I mean geeze, a replacement costs anywhere from $100-$600 or more. My parents would never have let me have one as a child. Heck... they were reluctant to let me watch TV all day.

I remember being told no more than a 1/2 hour... And I thought that meant 1 and a half hours... and I thought a 30 minute program was a 1 hour program and 1/2 of the next program was a half-hour... So in reality I'd watch 45 minutes.

But back on topic. When did it become ok to give our kids (as young as 1 year old!!!) expensive items to play with. I swear when I have kids, they will not be allowed to play with my digital toys... at least not until they are at least 7-10 years old. And they will not have their own personal ones until maybe middle school, but most likely high school.

SO all in all... I think the problem is less with these services... but more with the parents!

And don't give me well the kids got to it.. it's called put it in a place they can't get to... like your phone should literally be on you at all times... or at least in the same room as you... and your tablets should be in places they can't reach if you aren't near them. like high up on a mantle... or even in a locked safe... I'm serious.

Re:um... how bout... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389823)

So when your kids get bullied, picked on and ostracised for not having what all the other kids have, not able to join in their games (online gaming IS the playground these days) you'll feel good about yourself? So their social development will be stunted, leading to depression and all kinds of problems when they have to try and catch up in their 20s, possibly having knock on effects with education and career success. But at least you will have done the right thing by not letting them play with those new fangled gadgets. Great parenting there, give yourself a pat on the back.

Re:um... how bout... (3, Insightful)

A Li N (3608009) | about 2 months ago | (#47389899)

Partially agree with you here. It's a new age and these 'expensive toys' are quickly becoming the needed tools in life; teaching your kids how to use them and the consequences of their actions is a great lesson for any child. Teaching yourself how they are, and can be, used is an even bigger lesson; one that a lot of parents fail at and then blame someone else. Who, in their responsible mind, would give a child a device that can be used to spend money? Yes, there's some checks and balances in place, but those checks and balances fail all the time (which is why my un-signed credit card can be used to purchase things without asking to see my Id 95% of the time). If you give your kid a credit card and put them in a candy store, they're going to max it out. Is that the store owner's fault? No! If you want your kids to be able to purchase those in-app purchases, set up an account for them with a specific amount on the card (Google Wallet is a very good option with its Master Card option). It's called an allowance, a concept that's been around for hundreds of years. You don't give an allowance by writing and signing a blank check. People (who most parents are) need to start learning the technology they use, where its downfalls are and how to get around them. If Amazon's in-app purchase policy is 'enter your pin and it's OK to purchase for 15 minutes', learn to deal with that or use a different system. If Amazon's updates cause resetting of in-app purchase flags, learn to deal with it. Part of dealing with it is to inform Amazon that their policy is broken, but it's their policy to make; if you don't like it, move on to the next or learn how to deal with it to fit your needs.

Re:um... how bout... (1)

DRJlaw (946416) | about 2 months ago | (#47391117)

If Amazon's updates cause resetting of in-app purchase flags, learn to deal with it. Part of dealing with it is to inform Amazon that their policy is broken, but it's their policy to make; if you don't like it, move on to the next or learn how to deal with it to fit your needs.

No, it's not their policy to make. You may wish it was, but (1) that's your individual opinion, (2) that's not the law, and (3) there are quite a number of people who disagree with you which, even in a representative democracy, goes quite a way to ensuring that your opinion is unlikely to become the law.

Quite a number of states, alongside the FTC, have laws governing unfair and deceptive trade practices. They've had them for quite a long time. Your ultralibertarian viewpoint does not reflect the way the world works, or apprecitate the difficulty even above-average customers have in finding good information about how a product or service actually works before purchasing it, or consider that 'learning to deal with it' or 'moving on to the next' have substantial after-the-fact costs, or actually demonstrate why we should permit a practice like 'resetting in-app purchase flags' on a routine basis.

You're perfectly happy assigning responsibility to the parents, yet you're willing to give the manufacturer/service provider a complete pass even after parents have learned the technology they use, and used the very mechanism provided by the manufacturer/service provider to deny the ability to make such purchases, only to see their efforts actively thwarted by manufacturer once they are 'on the hook'? It makes no sense.

Although we warn people 'caveat eamptor,' we do not endorse that as an absolute governing principle of business. You can neither intentionally design in nor conceal a material product defect, whether its a lock mechanism in a car or a parental control in an app store, and expect the public to say "well we just have to learn how to deal." Once you design in that sort of mechanism, it has to actually work as a reasonable person would expect it to. Otherwise, you become liable under any governing philosophy, whether it's Austrian school laissez-faire capitalism or European-style consumer protection regulation.

Re:um... how bout... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47391581)

and I thought a 30 minute program was a 1 hour program and 1/2 of the next program was a half-hour... So in reality I'd watch 45 minutes.

No. A "30-minute" program is only 20 minutes long :) So in reality you would watch for 30 minutes (plus some commercials).

They should fight this (-1, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 months ago | (#47389511)

It's not their fault the kid's parents are not responsible.

Apple should not have caved either, but i guess they felt that the 'good press' was worth losing a few bucks.

Re:They should fight this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389579)

Their fault for the kids? Perhaps not.

It's entirely their fault that they decided to take advantage of it though.

When you're selling products aimed at children, you should hold yourself to a higher standard. If not, well, I guess that's why we're not in a society of Darwinian Randists.

um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389519)

why does my post keep getting deleted... I'm not saying anything inappropriate...

Re:um (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 months ago | (#47390037)

Posts don't get deleted.

all the while I thought the maxim of our times was (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 2 months ago | (#47389649)

Think of the children and profit.

Irresponsible parents are part of the problem here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47389663)

Should you really be giving your nine year old a credit card (ie not just a debit card, but an actual credit card)? Because that's exactly what your doing when you give them a cellular phone which is attached to a contract (or any similar device with cellular data services for that matter). As a parent YOU become responsible. YOU consented to whatever charges your child makes as a result.

The solution to this problem is simple. Stop giving your kids devices targeted at adults or attached to contact plans. I'm not even being overzealous here as I'm not suggesting your kid shouldn't have a cell phone. What I am suggesting is that there are good no-contract options (and pre-paid options for that matter) on the market from t-mobile with and without data. I have such a phone and a no-contract plan. You don't have to be a minor to get one either. I'm 30 with a good credit rating, morgage, car, etc.

Whats worse is the parents who are in this situation have already paid excessivly for the service in most cases. That is most have failed to do even a small amount of research. t-mobile covers most populated areas and short of parents living in the countryside, etc its probably a very poor decision to go with AT&T or Verizon. The reason being the no-contract t-mobile plans are CHEAPER than the options from Verizon and AT&T! There is simply no excuse here. Give your kid a no-contract plan and phone and your problems solved.

I don't want a nanny state. Stop forcing it on me. And- I'm FOR regulation in many cases where there are monopolies, etc (phone, internet, software, etc). Unfortunately we let corporate america walk all over us and then refuse to take responsibility for our own actions.

Re:Irresponsible parents are part of the problem h (1)

eclectro (227083) | about 2 months ago | (#47389805)

I don't want a nanny state. Stop forcing it on me

We need to have the "nanny state" for those adult programmers who can't tell right from wrong and engineer there games in a deceptive and unfair way.

Sorry that it might interrupt your revenue stream, but the the games really should have a twenty for hour "refund" window, where there is an unconditional refund given to in-app purchases.

Re:Irresponsible parents are part of the problem h (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 months ago | (#47390391)

We need to have the "nanny state" for those adult programmers who can't tell right from wrong and engineer there games in a deceptive and unfair way.

"wah wah! its unfair that I can't just give my kid a credit card and know that they wont spend any money!"

Seriously? Be a better parent because right now you are a very very bad one.

Re:Irresponsible parents are part of the problem h (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47391321)

So, you are claiming the devices are targeted to adults? What a joke. How many games are available on the various devices specifically for kids? How many games with in-app purchases have a rating below age 10?

Re:Irresponsible parents are part of the problem h (2)

Joosy (787747) | about 2 months ago | (#47391971)

We didn't give our son a credit card. We didn't give him a cell phone. We gave him a Kindle Fire HD, and had no idea that by default he would be able to buy things with real money without our needing to put our password in.

After getting a huge charge from in app purchases I complained to Amazon and was immediately and cheerfully given a refund, with instructions for how to turn on the setting to require password for in app purchases.

Amazon knew what it was doing when they made the default setting "no password required for in app purchases". I'd be happy to see them get a massive fine for that greedy and disgusting decision.

Does Amazon develop all apps in the app store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47390113)

From the article, it doesn't state where all of these in-app purchases were made (games, apps or both.)

I agree, that no one should be able to buy anything without checks and balances, but I also agree that most parents don't know how to use their device properly, let alone teach their kids how to use it and keep them from making these purchases. The real issue here is the entire IAP business model. Great for business to keep this as inconspicuous as possible, bad for everyone else. But this is something we need to learn, as parents or everyday users.

My point is, does Amazon own and develop every single app and game on the Amazon App Store? I seriously don't know, haven't owned one of these devices. If they don't, then why are they going after Amazon? Should they not be going after the developing company for creating an app/game that is so easy to rack up charges?

Re:Does Amazon develop all apps in the app store? (1)

Swave An deBwoner (907414) | about 2 months ago | (#47390699)

From what I've read (and I only skimmed this thread so maybe I missed something) they are "going after Amazon" because the "parental controls" that they provide on their product get reset every time there's an update to the device.

Imagine if the root password and all of the access controls on the servers in your machine room got reset each time you ran an update on the OS. You'd be pretty pissed I bet.

Ok (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 months ago | (#47390551)

So my kid purchased some international roaming calls in the 'phone' app, it didn't even have to enter a password.
Can I please have my 3000$ back?

Yes, purchase was refunded, but ... (1)

Joosy (787747) | about 2 months ago | (#47391955)

"when customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn't want, we refunded those purchases."

True, at least in our case.

Still, I could have done without the shock of seeing the huge charge (over $200 ... more than the cost of the Kindle Fire HD!) ... our 8-year old could have done without the stress of having his parents mad at him when he didn't realize he wasn't doing anything wrong ... I could have done without having to spend time getting a refund.

And what about those who didn't jump through the hoops to get their refund?

So, screw Amazon. Throw the book at them.

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