OFT kicks butt over in-app purchases
The Office of Fair Trading has now waded into the in-app purchases row, by giving the online gaming industry two months to overhaul free apps and stop the problem of your kid accidentally paying £30 for a candy hammer.
The OFT say that game producers must play by their rules or face strict action under consumer protection law.
This comes after Apple had to refund millions of dollars to distraught parents after they complained of being out of pocket when their kids sticky fingers wrongly landed on a BUY button in a free app.
Apple has updated their App store after being inundated with requests for refunds, and Google have also updated their rules about in-app purchases.
But before you blankly hand little Jimmy your iPad and slope off back to bed, parents still have to be aware that if your settings allow you to buy an extra life/20 magic gems/an Angry Birds Mighty Eagle, then accidents can still happen unless you adjust them.
The OFT said that game producers must be upfront about in-game costs and advised parents to check the payment options in their settings. They also said that parents should be aware that any updates might have an effect on their payment settings. But it looks like they're not pulling any punches. Their new guidelines state:
‘In-game payments are not authorised and should not be taken unless the payment account holder, such as a parent, has given his or her express, informed consent.’