Has your kid inadvertently racked up a massive bill for in-app or in-game purchases on Facebook without your knowledge or consent? Facebook will now let US users get their money back. A California court has ruled in favour of the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit where the social media giant has agreed to provide refunds for purchases made in apps and games by children should their parents request it.
Filed by two children and their parents in February 2012, the lawsuit claimed that the kids bought thousands of dollars worth of Facebook Credits, a now-discontinued virtual currency that is now known as Facebook Payments, using their parents' credit cards.
While the Menlo Park, California-based company, argued that the users received and used what they paid for, the plaintiff's lawyers said that the minors did not understand that they were spending actual money.
"These kids don't really know what they are doing," John R Parker, the lead attorney representing the families in the lawsuit, told the Guardian. "They've got a credit card they put into their account and they don't realise that every time they click on some button in the game to get some extra magic coin, the company is charging the parent's account."
The court case focuses on a piece of California legislation known as the Family Code that voids any contracts made with minors before they turn 18 years old. The case applies to the entire country and not just California.
As part of a settlement approved in May, Facebook has introduced a Facebook Payments Support feature that gives users the opportunity to dispute any mistaken charges made by minors.
According to new research by Nationwide Current Accounts, one in three UK parents admit that their little ones know the passwords to their mobile devices. While one in 10 Brits admit spending £11 or more per month on games and in-app purchases, one in seven say their kids have taken advantage of in-game purchases and have run up a bill of £10 or more.
"Technology and gaming is part of everyday life for both adults and children and the launch of Pokémon Go, as well as the continued popularity of apps, such as Candy Crush, has certainly amplified that," Nationwide's head of current accounts, Phil Smith said in a statement. "With the rise of apps that offer in-game purchases, I would encourage parents to discuss the financial risks with their children and outline what is safe and acceptable usage."
"This is particularly pertinent when children use their parent's devices given the number of adults that have a debit or credit card linked to their app store account."