Our parents never had to deal with this.
You know the story. You hand your kid your Android phone or a Kindle Fire just to keep them quiet while you finish balancing your checkbook. Next thing you know, you get hit with surprise Amazon charges from in-app purchases. So much for a balanced checkbook.
The problem is that many apps labeled “free” are anything but, and some of those apps are games that greatly appeal to children. Although downloading and playing the game won’t cost you anything, kids may be tempted with highly coveted items or enhanced functionality that come only at the cost of real money. And guess whose debit card is associated with that Amazon account?
If these charges seem unfair to you, well, the Federal Trade Commission agrees. As of April 2017, the FTC negotiated a deal with Amazon that will end with the tech giant handing out more than $70 million in unauthorized in-app fees.
If your kid splurged on digital coins or fancy digital outfits between November 2011 and May 2016, you may be eligible for a refund. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Amazon will send emails to customers they believe deserve a refund.
The FTC assures us that Amazon will reach out to affected parents. “All eligible consumers should have received an email from Amazon,” according to an FTC press release dated May 30, 2017.
We all know how things like this work, though. It’s easy to slip through the cracks. If you haven’t received an email offering you your money back, don’t despair. There are a few ways to request a refund for the unbelievable amounts of money your kid was able to spend on Farm Story.
2. You can also request a refund directly from Amazon.
Amazon set up a web page for eligibility claims, and it’s live now. Just visit this page, log in to your account, and follow the prompts.
3. Learn more about requesting refunds in your Amazon Message Center.
Yep, there is such a thing, though most users don’t check it very often. To access your Message Center from a desktop, log in to your Amazon account just like normal. Hover over the “Accounts & Lists” link to open a drop-down menu. Select “Your Account,” the first option in the right-hand column.
Then locate the box labeled “Email alerts, messages, and ads.” Select “Message Center” from that list, and you’re there. Information about requesting a refund for unauthorized in-app purchases should be listed under “Important Messages.”
4. We’re guessing that Amazon would rather you take care of this online, but there is a phone number you can call.
Just give Amazon a ring at 866-216-1072 to discuss your refund (or just to complain about how your kid managed to spend $5,000 without you even being notified).
No matter which path you take toward your refund, don’t wait too long to get started. The deadline for a refund request is May 28, 2018. After that, you’ll be stuck with your kid’s virtual purchases, which, of course, burned real-life money.