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Notification emails go out for Google's $19 million refund for in-app purchases

Google Play refund notices are being sent out to customers as a result of Google's $19 million minimum settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. If your Google Play account was charged between March 1, 2011 and November 18, 2014 as a result of unauthorized in-app purchases made by young children, you can apply for a refund through Google.

Google is sending out notices in email form to its customers who have made in-app purchases during that time period.

Our records show that your account was previously charged for in-app purchases. If any of those charges were the result of unauthorized purchases by a minor between March 1, 2011, and November 18, 2014, and you haven't already received a refund for those charges, you might be eligible for a refund.

The email asks customers to visit their account to verify their in-app purchase history and select the ones that could qualify for a refund. Customers will have up until December 2, 2015 to make their refund requests

Google starts sending refund emails for unauthorized in-app purchases

As part of the settlement with the FTC, Google's refund amount is no less than $19 million. The FTC said in a release:

Under the terms of the settlement, Google will provide full refunds – with a minimum payment of $19 million – to consumers who were charged for kids' purchases without authorization of the account holder. Google has also agreed to modify its billing practices to ensure that it obtains express, informed consent from consumers before charging them for items sold in mobile apps.

96 Comments
  • Just got the email. But no little kids bought a bunch of stuff off me, so no need for any refunds. I hope others don't abuse this just because. Everyone that made in app purchases is gonna get an email. And I'm sure its super easy to get approved for a refund regardless. Posted via Android Central App
  • Unlike you I am taking the low road and refunding all purchases I regret with IAP as much as possible.
  • Hey I have those regrets too, but not hundreds of dollars worth that some of these parents have. Posted via Android Central App
  • im one of those people that had hundreds.of dollars taken.. my son took me for a total of 425 bucks over the course of a year and I had just thought it was my card number stolen. Dont take advantage of it bc some of us really had this happen.
  • If a password was entered to make the purchase, no refund.
  • I believe I was wrongfully charged 18.5 million IAP for Defender 1 & 2 by Droidhen. But I'll take 10 mill and call it even ;-) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah, I looked over my purchases and there were some I regretted, but I'm not going to be a jackass and refund mine. I'm an adult, I knew what I was buying at the time. Too much shuttling the blame to other people these days and I'm not going to sink so low as to claim false refunds.
  • Wonder if the FTC is planning on telling Amazon to do the same thing for all the Kindle users. My daughter went on a gem purchasing spree about 6 months ago on my wife's tablet. Posted via Android Central App
  • L2FreeTime
  • Maybe although Amazon does have warnings when games having in-app purchases and how to disable in-app purchasing all over the place.
  • Yeah, I had my friends kid play on my phone and spend $300, I just found out after christmas when he gave me another $50 gift card because it was also used to in an in-app purchase, luckily enough, I was able to give him back the $50 and notify google today about it. They have handled everything really well, hope people don't abuse this.
  • I don't see why it's Google's fault that parents don't monitor their kids and their technology. Posted via the Android Central App
  • +19 million If you have kids and leave your phone laying around without a password for Google purchases, you shouldn't get a refund for your own stupidity/negligence.
  • @ katnapper stupidity/negligence you must not have a 14 year old that knows everything about you or care too, but like me she has bought 99$ packages for a pool stick on one game, 50$ for a table in a restaurant in another and let me remind you that this stuff is in a GAME nothing should be over 2$ your paying for pixels also ive lost close to a hundred dollars by accidental purchases. HELL yea im clicking EVERYTHING why not its nothing compared to what they make off people for nothing but game data. and yea what 14 year old doesnt know the value of money probably because me and her mother make descent money but hey whats a 250$ refund before christmas.
  • You are mistaken in presuming that I am not a parent. I have 5 children with ages ranging from 21 years old to 6 years old. I've also worked extensively with security software and hardware security measures. Why a person, let alone a parent leave a device with monetary accounts open and accessible perplexes me. Maybe ignorance/carelessness from just randomly ticking boxes to provide personal convenience, or just trusting to a fault to the integrity of people or their own children. A 14 year old who, as you described, knows as much as you about your hardware and has access to your accounts should also know that the transaction being made was wrong. Is it really the fault of the store front for their actions? No, that would be like bringing a child to a store with a no return policy and have them wrongly use your credit card from your and use it on a spending spree. You should go after your credit card company and report your child for theft, or you take care of things in house and deal with it. The problem, in my opinion, is not in the store front. Next time, don't assume that a person expressing an opinion doesn't have any perspective.
  • +1000 to you, good sir. I don't even have kids but I've always been perplexed at how absolutely lax and clueless that (well most) 'modern' parents are about simply being observant about what their kids do on their devices. As someone else stated, if they (the parents) didn't bother to put up some sort of account authorization for purchases or any other necessary parental controls--then they don't deserve a dime. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Don't be so hard on parents. Certain games have the capacity to change your authorization from requiring one to not requiring an authorization. I know because it happened to me. I have always required a password for all my accounts. Certain games cancel that. I had a google support rep go through my account with me. One game notorious for that is WSOP. It just flipped again to not requiring a password. So it is not lazy parents in all cases. It is tricky applications with the most to gain from in-app purchases being uncontrolled.
  • My God what a perfect post. I was like the girl is 14... Posted via the ACA on NEXUS 6
  • This post is 100% spot on! From the DeathStar using my rooted LG G2
  • 1000000 times AGREE! My 6 yr old daughter has had connected tablets and such since she was 3 and never a problem. I taught her at an early age that trust is very important. The now 12 and 13 yr olds I babysit (since they was her age) are the same way, they always ask because they understand as well... The old ways are gone, long live the new ways, AKA "The Blame Game"...
  • I have 2 girls 7 and 10 and they both have tablets and the 10 year old has a phone. At no point are either one of them able to buy anything with out my approval or password. What I think is even more important is that neither one of them would even try because I have talked to them and made sure that they understand how in app and game purchases works. They know the value of money and that it's wrong to spend money wastefully especially money that's not theirs. This is more of a parenting problem then a store problem but that's the way people are nowadays blame anything they can so they don't have to take responsibility for their actions. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You've proven yourself wrong with your own argument. "Why a person, let alone a parent leave a device with monetary accounts open and accessible perplexes me." This is the fundamental problem with the way in app purchases were being handled. The parent wasn't "leaving" their stuff open. "No, that would be like bringing a child to a store with a no return policy and have them wrongly use your credit card from your and use it on a spending spree." The stores wouldn't allow the purchases.. as they check the signature on the back to id for identity (you're probably use to clerks not following this policy, although that is the process). If your kid did get away with it, at a store with no return policy, you could indeed dispute the charges on your card. It's a pain is the arse but can be done. The store will gladly take back the items instead. This ruling is a similar fashion, but much easier, because the purchasing power was scaled just the same. Consumer protection.. I don't know why anyone is upset whether the parents are actually negligent or not. It's a win for us.
  • Sweet! Im Glad you are the most technologically aware, progressive and omnipotent parent, in the history of the modern family. But apparently the federal trade commission, doesnt share in your opinion. I think what they have to say, matters more.
  • @Patrick Ford If your 14 year old still doesn't know the value of money then it is definitely your fault. And if she knows your password then it's also your fault for using her birthday as a password.
  • Im with you..lol..I think its awesome..and Im not telling my kids about the refund..
  • I am a 14 year old boy and know the value of money. It's your fault for not raising your kid up well. Don't take google's money cause you dont know how to disiplince your kid.
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • This. My son uses my tablet but my play account has a password so that he can't make purchases.
  • Well that's because you have a brain sir.
  • Exactly! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I feel the same way, but Google (and other app stores) should have required password for *all* paid apps and iap's by default. Posted via Android Central App
  • Absolutely. Why is ignorance an excuse? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Welcome to 2014 buddy.... Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's Google's fault because of the 30 minute window after entering your password that Google Play allowed in app purchases without requiring the password again. If you're going to play the "it's not the corporation's fault you're a lousy parent" card, the least you could do is understand the basics of the lawsuit and the settlement. Posted via Android Central App
  • You have to choose to allow that window happen. Come on, man!
  • No, it's on by default, even if you have set a password. It's already been changed, but for a long time you had to dig down into the settings and manually change it to ask for a password everytime and that setting was separate from the "ask for a password" setting. If you chose to put a password on purchases, it should have always been the default to ask every time and if you want it to not ask for 30 minutes, you need to change it yourself. Then it would be a conscience decision and would be your responsibility if something happened.
  • Wow some actual common sense here instead of blaming everyone and labeling them as bad parents. We need to realize that most of the audience here at androidcentral is very tech savvy, and we are in the minority. Most of the population wouldn't know to dig deep into settings for things to work as they should, ie if you select a password protection then you expect to have to enter that password every time you are about to make a transaction.
  • +1
  • This happened last year with Apple.
  • How is this Google's fault? Your kid, your responsibility. Posted via Android Central App
  • The more dominant you are, the more responsibilities you have. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Servers must be getting hammered. I keep getting an error message
  • Free money. Yay Posted via the Android Central App
  • I keep getting the error message too. Glad they finally got around to this.
  • They gouged me again! My kid made 21 million dollars in unauthorized purchases! Damn you El-Goog!
  • damn thought I was the only one.
  • I had quite a bit of DL's from my daughter. I thought that money was gone. I even tried disputing them with my bank. There were some on the list I wasn't even aware about. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Inattentive parents bailout. Yay! Posted via the Android Central App
  • 3 of my kids have made in app purchases and I still have not received any emails from google. Even if they reimburse me the total cost of the app I'm sure they won't pay my over draft fee's that I encountered from my bank for those transactions.
  • I can see how that would be really unpleasant to go through. And I'm glad that Google is making it more obvious how to block such purchases. (And I'd be pretty ticked at my kids for buying stuff like that without asking me first.) Do you think that you hold any of the responsibility for that happening? Or happening the second time? Or happening the third time?
  • Many of these purchases Google was sued by were from the apps with in app purchase buttons spammed everywhere in the games. One press by a child and you were billed. Stop apologizing for Google and realize it's on them, just as it was for Apple, for not having a system to protect against unwarranted purchases before that required a password input. Posted from my HTC One M8 via Android Central App
  • I have 5 kids and I have took every precaution so they wouldn't be able to order any 3rd party apps by having the 0 family allowance on their lines.
    So when you ask if I feel responsible the answer is NO. My husband set their phones up and put parental blocks on anything that could be purchased. But Google still allowed them to purchase apps.
    You must be working with google because you are trying to blame the parents for something kids did. I have 5 kids and 3 of them were able to make in app purchases. It's not like it happened multiple times with one phone it happened 3 times on 3 different lines.
  • So these were on the kids' own phones? Did they have their own Google login (minimum age 13) or were the logged in to your Google account? a) If your account, you can choose to have every purchase require the password. 2) If their account, obviously they have the password, so that won't stop them. But if you give a kid a phone, and a Google account, then clearly you are judging them to be responsible enough to have a phone. If the kid then abuses that responsibility, that's on them, not Google. I don't work for Google. I have two kids. I have given each of those kids a tablet linked to my account. I have checked the box requiring a password for any purchases. I've installed a launcher (Kidoz) that further reduces the ability of my kids to do stuff on their tablet that I don't want them to do. Maybe I'm a little more tech savvy than the average person, but this stuff isn't that hard. And if I hadn't figured it out before I gave the kids access to a device, I would have figured it out right after the first time they bought something. Or the second. Or the third. Fool me once, shame on Google. Fool me three times... c'mon, really?
  • Did you not read what I posted? I had a $0 family allowance on their phones so they shouldn't have been able to purchase anything. But the app still allowed them to make purchases.
  • I don't know what "family allowance" is in this context, so I don't know how egregious it might be for Google to have allowed purchases. Alls I know is that I have locked my devices down against this ever happening, so it is possible. Maybe it should be easier. Maybe it's easier now than it was before. But it was already entirely possible to prevent this.
  • Idk y ur even on this site of u haven't had any problems with the in-app purchases. I guess you must just be bored af and want to mess with people that google has really screwed over by not securing there sire just like apple did and was sued for. That's y they made their changes..
  • Kidoz rrally that is for young kids like under 5. My 3 kids that did this are 14, 16, & 17. But if you don't know what a family allowance plan is loom it up lady cause it means that any phone on your plan can not make any purchases that are not free.
  • Yeah, because its Google's fault you don't know what your kids are doing with your phone. A simple password would have prevented all this. But yeah you know its Google's fault you don't take 2 minutes out of your day to do that.
  • I am eligible I was just pissed that they won't pay for the over draft fee's since my bill comes directly out if my checking account.
    It's just that stupid lady that i have a problem with. Obviousely she does not have teenage boys who know how to hack their phones.
  • I was siding with you Angela that was directed @ Stephen
  • Sorry I still havenot seen his comment. But thank u you are the only one who has sided with me. Thanks
  • I don't see how google is to blame for your kids "hacking" their phone.
    Yes, google should have made it harder for them to find a way to purchase stuff, but if it was done by your kids, knowing what they were doing, then the blame is on them.
    I'm 19 and I know for sure I wouldn't have done ithat myself, and if I did, I would have been forced to pay that money myself, because that's how parenting should work, you blame your kids for their own actions, not someone else.
    But that´s just my opinion, I'm not trying to be rude or anything, I just think your kids should take responsabiity for their own actions.
  • Reread My post I had all the lines on my account protected. Google just didn't care and charged my account anyway
  • Obviously you were tryin to get a refund for in app purchases u did and got denied
  • That was directed to stephenkx291
  • This is plain stupid.
  • No it's not, people need someone to blame... Just as bad as the parents who biotch about violent video game THEY BOUGHT for their kids...
  • I completely agree with you but when I did take precautions and gogle over looked it. The problem then becomes google to correct
  • My daughter made a 50 dollar purchase and that one is not eligible. That is what made me put the pin in for purchasing apps. All the ones after that are eligible. What a crock. Posted via Android Central App
  • I got the email a few hrs ago. Nothing really that constitutes a refund. But I can see the HUGE benefits of this for a LOT of people. 
  • It seems to be a difficult proposition to even get the refund, after you check all the boxes that you have disputes with, there is no "Continue" or "Next" button to proceed to the next page. That's gonna knock off like half of the "victims" off the top. Posted via the Android Central App
  • So it won't go through. Error message in submitting on my desktop. (Can't do it at all on my mobile phone.) "Sorry, an error was encountered submitting your refund request. Please wait and try again or contact Google Play Support for more information." I mean, it's like, what, $5 max? I didn't figure it up; I just got the short list of ones I knew were done by a little family member (I have no kids, but I let them play with my phone) and was done with it. So I'm not going to like lose my life savings or anything. It's $5. Still, why won't it go through, and what of those who have a heckuva lot more than me?
  • I had to try 3 times for mine to work, give it another shot or two. Don't let Google's faulty website protect their inflated bank accounts! ;) Posted from my HTC One M8 via Android Central App
  • I gave up last night. Too much congestion on the site and bed was calling. Did it this morning and it worked like a charm. Interesting thing is the card I used for ALL purchases in that window is gonezo because I closed that bank account. So they claim checks will be sent out. I will have to monitor when I receive it. Of course my latest info is on my account so they can refund that way but we will just see what they do. My bet is it is a check.
  • 19 Million is a drop in the ocean. How much did the Lawyers get? Prolly more than 19 Mil. I have no purchases from crumb crunchers so I will not be asking for a refund. Mom and Dad own up to the fact you pawned off the kid to the phone cause you didn't want to deal with them. It's the I take no responsibility era.
  • As much as I like Googles services, I ticked all applicable boxes for about a $30 refund a few hours ago. Look forward to getting my money back on bad, and otherwise unwarranted purchases. I've since spread the word to friends for them to do the same on regretful/unauthorized purchases. And to the apologist, just as a kid can't get/buy things elsewhere without a parents permission/authorization. The same should apply to digital purchases too. The simple password input upon purchases is simple and easy to put in, while saving both citizens and corporations money. Just as Apple was responsible for this failure last year, Google too is solely at fault here, and this is justice for those who were victims to both Apple and Google's negilence. Now parents have been given the tools they should've had at the beginning to prevent this mess from happening again. Posted from my HTC One M8 via Android Central App
  • i just got this email and didn't click any links because one, i have no children, two, it looked like a phishing scam. so a Google search was in order, i don't see any people talking about a scam but i do see a whole lot of people wanting to rip off Google, wtf people.
  • You can guarantee you will need to confirm multiple times in the future
  • Seriously, I don't get it either. I got the email and deleted it with no regrets.
  • Anyone else getting an error message Posted via the Android Central App
  • am sorry google but i kind of need the money
  • Can confirm it works...had to keep trying after about 6 times, it finally went through.
  • Just did mine. It worked just fine.
  • Yeah, I got one of those. At first when I saw the subject I thought 'Wtf now??'. But when read it, I relaxed as I don't have kids and I damn sure don't let none touch my tech 'toys'. So I likely won't be getting anything out of this b/c I'm the only one that makes purchases on my account (n addition, I have pw protection on any requiring monies exchanged). Posted via the Android Central App
  • Parents use to dread the birds and the bees talk. Now they dread the in-app purchase conversation...
  • +10000000000000000000
  • Tried 20 times yesterday and 30 times today. Still getting error message....
  • I did mine today at 7 am ET (well just before that) and it went. Did it on desktop. Basically everyone was asleep or just waking up or -- like me -- about to go to work. There will be much congestion as this spreads. All I can advise is keep trying or go for a non-peak time if your schedule allows. That was the case for me, as last night was impossible to get through.
  • Holy cow, the OMG IRRESPONSIBLE PARENTS crowd is strong here. Are people really this daft? The default setting in Google Play used to leave the account unlocked for a half hour after entering the password, with no warning. I enjoy Google and the services they provide, but in this case, they done goofed. Let me lay down an analogy for some of you. You go to a new hotel. You check in, use the key card to unlock your room, drop off your luggage, and go to dinner. You come back in an hour, and your luggage is stolen. You find out from the front desk clerk that, because you didn't activate a non-obvious setting on the lock, it stayed unlocked for a half hour after scanning your key card. Getting the picture now?
  • Someone said it earlier here (and I credit them for it; if it wasn't here then I dunno where I got it) by we here are more tech savvy. We have to see this as the entire US population (or wider, depending on circumstance). Not everyone is quick at picking up on things like us, OR know how to fix it when it happen so it doesn't repeat. Honestly it is the truth. PT Barnum's famous words will never die in this society; in fact I'd say there's a sucker coming forward every second, not each minute. And we will always have people questioning the parenting skills of others. Yeah sometimes it is blatantly obvious the parents suck and that's why the kids have issues. But even when parents try to raise their kids right, there are perceived issues. If you haven't seen it yet, Google up the Utah mom who canceled Christmas for her kids except for celebrating its religious reasons, fearing her kids were becoming too demanding and expecting and missing valuable lessons in life. Some admire her and her husband for the stance and correcting the kids. Others admire their willingness to admit as humans they made mistakes in their parenting and want to fix it now before it is way too late. The rest? Terrible parents and it is all their fault, etc., and the assessments of people they don't know are scathing. (And lest we forget, point a finger of blame, three point right back at you.) Such is life, I guess. It is the society we live in. Quick to criticize, quick to make an easy buck, quick to scam... Yeah you name it, somehow it likely applies to this individual Google Play refund situation, and down the road it'll be something else.
  • Back in 2011 my daughter bought gems in the Bakery Story game. I was able to contact Google and get a refund on one out of the four purchases (all made in one day). She was 7 at the time and didn't realize that the gems cost real money - because it was within the game she thought it was pretend "game" money. She knew not to download anything without permission but the whole in-app purchase thing wasn't on my radar because at the time I didn't use any apps that had that. I take responsibility for my ignorance but I must say it was ridiculously easy for a 7 year old to purchase almost $100 worth of (fake) merchandise in a game. I wouldn't say that I DESERVE a refund but I'll certainly take it now that it's offered.
  • Oh my god, you are such a horrid, awful, unaware parent of your childs entire existence, because you dont understand the intricacies of in-app purchases. I think child services should come in and take your kids away. Nevermind the fact that there are people who dont know how to use computers, technology, or play phone games. That makes them totally ignorant, and an irresponsible person. I guess they should have never ever had kids, or given their children phones at all. Maybe they are immigrants and dont know how to use a cell phone effectively (such as the case with my mother, who has a law degree) The level of snoby, highhorseness in this comment panel is absurd.
  • The bottom line is, the FTC doesnt seem to agree with your "super parent" ideology.
  • I was one of those parents. ..submitted and nothing was done..pretty sad if u ask me...
  • you real money donations?
  • hi this is very nice very nice services