Google In-App Purchases: Woman Sues After Her Son Blows $66 on Games

Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 12:51 PM

By Nick Sanchez

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A New York woman is suing Google after her son racked up more than $60 worth of in-app purchases. The suit comes in the wake of similar complaints from a Pennsylvania man that ultimately drew a $32.5 million class-action settlement from Apple in January.

According to GigaOM, the new suit brought by Berger and Montague on behalf of Ilana Imber-Gluck alleges that the digital download store is full of apps that trick kids into spending money.

Filed in San Francisco on Friday, the lawsuit claims that the woman's 5-year-old son spent $65.95 on digital "Crystals" while playing Marvel Run Jump Smash! on her Samsung Galaxy tablet computer.

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After the Apple suit, free and low-cost apps aimed at children became known as "bait apps" because they're cheap to download, but become exponentially more expensive once game play begins.

Apple and Google have long required users to enter their passwords when downloading a new app as well as each time an in-app purchase is made. However, Apple originally built-in a 15-minute window following the entry of the password during which purchases could be made without re-entering it. This window was closed by Apple, but remains at 30 minutes on Google's Android operating system. That means that kids have a half hour of game play in which they can rack up charges after their parents enter their password and download a game.

Some games like Pet Hotel, which is mentioned in the suit, charge as much as $49 and $99 for bulk purchases of digital currency used in the game.

As GigaOM points out, "The Daily Show" did a feature on these sorts of games, singling out Tapfish, which has been downloaded more than 20 million times. In the feature, a correspondent interviews a family whose kids accidentally spent over $1,000 playing the game.

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