Apple might owe you some money after settling a class-action suit

Apple might owe you some money after settling a class-action suit
Per USA Today, Apple might owe you some money after settling a class-action lawsuit over the Family Sharing feature. The suit, known as Walter Peters v. Apple, was settled by Apple for $25 million which means that Apple might owe you as much as (are you sitting down?) a whopping $30! Family Sharing is an App Store feature that allows purchased apps to be shared with up to six family members. The "initiating user" lists the five additional family members in the initiator's Apple Account.

Apple forced app developers to include ads for Family Sharing on their apps' landing pages

If the family members consent to be included in the Family Sharing program, when any family member purchases an app that supports Family Sharing from the App Store, the app is downloaded on the devices of the other family members even though only one payment is necessary to purchase the app for all six family members. The complaint noted that "Apple places and/or demands that its software developers place a small advertisement on the landing pages for its apps which states that the app supports Family Sharing."

Up until January 30, 2019, Apple included an advertisement on each app's landing page that said, "Supports Family Sharing. With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app." Apple included this statement on the landing pages of apps that did not support the feature. The complaint alleges that even though Apple knew that the vast majority of the apps in the App Store did not support Family Sharing, the landing page for most subscription-based apps included the ad.

Obviously, as the complaint points out in black and white, "This advertisement is materially misleading, in that it plainly states that the App is available for Family Sharing, when
it is not." As you might have expected, millions of App Store visitors purchased apps that they thought would be automatically shared with the five family members they previously designated. These Apple device owners were upset to find out that a particular app they paid for, which featured the Family Sharing ad on its landing page, did not actually support the feature.

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The crux of the complaint against Apple reads like this: "As a result of Apple’s deceptive and misleading practices, Plaintiffs and the Class Members were induced to purchase subscription-based Apps for which Apple receives hefty fees, believing that those Apps could be shared with up to six family members—when in fact they were available only to the single user who set up the subscription."

The complaint adds that "Apple has made millions of dollars in fraudulent sales to individuals who Apple told were receiving up to six copies of an App when they were receiving only one. Apple’s customers did not receive the benefit of their bargain. They were misled.

In the document containing the settlement, "Apple denies that it made any misleading misrepresentations with respect to the sharing of third-party subscriptions using Family Sharing or that the Named Plaintiffs or Class have suffered any injury or damages or are entitled to any restitution." So then, why not let the whole thing play out in court? Apple explains that "taking into account the uncertainty and risks inherent in litigating this case, Apple has concluded  that continuing to defend this Action would be burdensome and expensive. Apple enters into this Agreement without in any way acknowledging any fault, liability, or wrongdoing of any kind."

If you haven't been notified but believe you are eligible for your share of the settlement, here is how you file a claim

If you signed up for Family Sharing between June 21st, 2015, and January 30th, 2019 with at least one other person and purchased a third-party app, you are eligible to make a claim. And those who are eligible will receive an email with details about the settlement. But if you don't receive any notification and believe that you are eligible to make a claim, you can register by heading to the settlement website by tapping this link. The deadline to opt into the settlement is March 1st, 2024.

Depending on the number of legitimate claims received, each participant agreeing to the settlement could find themselves as much as $30 richer. The final approval hearing will take place on April 2nd, 2024. Members of the class can decide in advance whether to have their percentage of the settlement sent to them via electronic bank transfer or by check.

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