Let's say a kid runs of some pretty hefty charges by clicking around inside a gaming app on mom's phone. What should happen next?
(a) Mom takes back the phone, gives the app a crappy rating, then deletes the game or takes advantage of settings designed to allow parents to limit in-app purchases. Docking future allowance payments is optional, depending on the kid's age and intent.
(b) A massive government bureaucracy grinds into action, demands that the third party that distributes the app require their customers to enter passwords every single time they make a purchase and then, when the company refuses, files a lawsuit alleging unfair trade practices.
Of course, option (a) happens every day. But that's not good enough for the folks at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who have already successfully bullied Apple into forcing users to input their passwords at every turn (so annoying!), but have so far failed to intimidate Amazon.
The FTC complaint cited "Tap Zoo" and "Ice Age Village" in which children manage a zoo or an ancient town. To do that, they can purchase digital items that often cost real money. A user put a review on Amazon.com in July 2013 complaining that "Tap Zoo" was a "cash trap" and said his son spent $65 on it without permission. The game currently tells parents how to disable the purchasing function.
The apps run on Amazon's Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD and devices that use Google's Android operating system.
The FTC settled a similar case with Apple Inc in January. Apple agreed to refund to customers at least $32.5 million in unauthorized charges made by children and to change its billing practices to require consent from parents for in-app spending.
Amazon says it already has an informal policy of refunding purchases made by unpoliced runaway juvenile tappers.
And yes, I know the legitimacy of platypi is up for debate. True pedants may substitute platypodes or playtpuses if they wish.