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Amazon is on the line for $70M and it could be your kid’s fault

(BUSINESS NEWS) If Amazon helped your kid buy a boat (or just an app), you may be eligible for a refund.

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Amazon is Liable for $70 Million in Refunds Because of Kids

If you missed the instance in which a child spontaneously ordered a bunch of stuff through Alexa a couple of months ago, you might be surprised to hear that kids everywhere seem to have caught on to the purchasing without permission gambit.

So many kids, in fact, that Amazon is now accountable for over $70 million in potential refunds.

Kids are Smarter Than You

Due to these charges occurring with little in the way of verification beforehand, the FTC unanimously determined that Amazon is liable for them.

Interestingly enough, similar cases were made for Google and Apple, which lends some credibility to the notion that iterations of the “one-click checkout” are far from perfect.

Naturally, Amazon probably won’t have to pay the full $70 million, if for no other reason than one must apply to receive a refund and wade through the ensuing process. It stands to reason, then, that instances wherein a 99-cent app was purchased by someone’s kid may not receive a follow-up.

Nature of the Beast

The main problem here is rooted in sloppy execution. Of course someone is going to find a way to exploit non-verified checkouts, and of course there will be some form of fallout.

However, the fact that Amazon didn’t have more stringent verification processes included is the true reason Amazon is guilty here.

It’s also the reason that this likely won’t be the last time Amazon has to shell out for accidental charges.

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One thing to keep an eye on as this phenomenon moves forward is how this ruling affects small business owners and retailers who sell on, but are not in the employ of, Amazon.

If Amazon eats the total cost of these refunds and individual sellers aren’t held accountable, great.

As of right now, though, it’s unclear exactly what the distribution of responsibility will be.

Use Protection

Not what you think. If you have a little ragamuffin running amok in your house, you owe it to yourself—and your credit score—to lock down your Alexa unit with a PIN and other built-in safeguards.

Better yet, avoid leading by example: don’t use your Alexa unit in front of your kid, especially when that use entails purchasing unlimited stuff from the big, bad internet.


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Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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  1. Pingback: Teaching kids to trust AND distrust AI is going to be tough - The American Genius

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