Google hit with UK class action lawsuit over 'unlawful' Play Store charges

Google Play Store
Google Play Store (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A legal action brought in a UK court against Google seeks damages of up to £920 million ($1.3 billion) for Play Store users in the UK.
  • It alleges that Google's Play Store practices are in violation of UK and EU competition laws.
  • The lawsuit argues that the Play Store's 30% surcharge is "unearned tax" and is imposed on Android users without justification.

A new legal action brought by consumer campaigner Liz Coll against Google in London seeks damages of up to £920 million ($1.3 billion) on behalf of around 19.5 million Android users in the country.

It alleges that the Google Play Store's 30% surcharge for digital purchases is unlawful and "bears no relationship to the costs of providing the services." The case comes less than a month after a coalition of 37 state attorney generals filed a lawsuit against Google over high Play Store app fees.

Liz Coll, who is the proposed class representative in the action, said in a statement:

Google is a gatekeeper to so many digital services, and it has a responsibility not to abuse that position and overcharge ordinary consumers. These hidden charges are unlawful, and Google's customers deserve compensation, and better treatment from Google in future.

The lawsuit claims Google is shutting down competition to the Play Store by requiring it to be pre-installed on all Android devices — including the best cheap Android phones. It also "steers" users to its own payment processing system, which exacts a 30% surcharge on every purchase. This, according to the lawsuit, not only generates massive revenue for the company but also hits consumers' pockets directly. The claim further alleges that these practices are in violation of section 18 of the UK Competition Act 1998 and Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

In a statement sent to Android Central, a Google spokesperson said that the lawsuit ignores the choice Android and Google Play provide to users.

Android gives people more choice than any other mobile platform in deciding which apps and app stores they use — in fact most Android phones come preloaded with more than one app store. We compete vigorously and fairly for developers and consumers.

If the legal action is successful, Android users in the UK could receive compensation of around £47 each. Any Android user who has made purchases of an app or other content within an app from the UK version of the Play Store using an Android phone or tablet will be eligible for the compensation.

Babu Mohan
News Writer