Updated: Kid go on a Google Play Store shopping spree? Learn how to get a refund

Request a refund from Google, and if that fails, contact the FTC

Last updated: January 22, 2014 02:20 PM

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FTC Complaint Assistant landing page

As we reported in "Google Play Store Lets Your Kid Spend Like a Drunken Sailor," for some time the Google Play Store has allowed children to shop using a credit card without parental authorization for up to 30 minutes after a parent authorizes an in-app purchase. The iTunes App Store offers kids a similar bonanza, though it lasts 15 minutes.

A Federal Trade Commission spokesperson declined to tell us whether the agency had received any complaints about unauthorized purchases in the Google Play Store or whether the FTC was investigating Google Play.

Get your money back

If your child has run up unauthorized charges in the Google Play Store, request a refund through the Google Play support center: “We take complaints very seriously, and our policy is to investigate and refund these kinds of in-app purchase issues promptly," a Google spokesperson wrote in an e-mail. Get information on how to request a refund from Google.

If you don't get satisfaction, file a complaint using the FTC's complaint assistant.

(Apple agreed this week to make full refunds to parents whose children had run up unauthorized bills in the App Store and to better warn parents of this risk. So if you file a legitimate grievance over unauthorized spending in the iTunes App Store, you can expect full restitution from Apple. “You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.)

If you do file a complaint with the FTC , share details about your situation with other readers on our Facebook page: Which app store did your kid shop in? Which apps and in-app add-ons did he or she buy? How big were the charges?

We're curious to know how widespread the problem is so we can help other parents avoid a similar experience.

—Jeff Fox

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