Apple may refund angry parents over accidental in app purchases by kids

Apple could offer refunds to the parents of children who have downloaded in-app purchases without realising they cost money.

The move should appease parents who have lost out on cash because of kids splurging on in-game items which cost real world cash.

Called "bait apps" - or simply freemium model applications - they are downloadable for free but then ask you to make multiple in-game purchases to move things forward. The purchases cost money and many younger app users don't realise.

Parents sued Apple in 2011 after receiving big credit card charges raised by kids using their iOS devices. Apple's proposed settlement to the case explains that they will offer a $5 iTunes credit if a child has bought in-game items without a parent's permission or knowing.

This compensation will increase depending on the amount of money spent, up to a total spend of $30 dollars, after which Apple will offer cash refunds.

Qualifying for the refund means you will have to attest that your younger one bought in-game currency and that you didn't provide them with your Apple password to do so.

While we can't know exactly how many will qualify for the refund, Apple is going to be sending out an email notice to more than 23 million iTunes users.

The settlement does still need to be approved by a US judge and we can't be certain if it will affect users of iTunes outside of the States, but if it goes ahead, expect to start seeing refunds by the end of this year and if not, at the start of 2014.

Good stuff on Apple's part really, it is more a shame about the way many freemium kids' apps encourage such in-app purchases. The iPhone and iPad are great devices to silence little ones on long car journeys, but not so good if they are burning through your credit cards without your realising.