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It looks like Chili's did not read about the lawsuits Apple, Google, and Amazon had to face for kids' in-app purchases.
Brenda Quijada, on behalf of hapless parents and guardians, sued Brinker Restaurant Corp. and Ziosk last week. She claims that Chili's is bilking customers by charging an undisclosed entertainment fee for kid's games played on pay-at-the-table tablets.
Brinker Restaurant Corp. is the parent company of Chili's. Ziosk is the company that created the first pay-at-the-table tablets.
Chili's has 7-inch Android tablets at tables to let diners view the menu, order food and drinks, and play games. However, according to Quijada, Chili's charges an undisclosed 99-cent "entertainment fee." Quijada claims that the tablet and apps specifically target kids. The tablets have free content such as dietary information and a link to "USA Today." However, the more exciting games such as Spy Mouse, Plants vs. Zombies, and Poppit! are premium content subject to the entertainment fee.
Quijada argues that the tablets do not allow any parental controls, and do not notify users of the fee beforehand.
Brinker's company spokeswoman told Courthouse News that they have not yet been served with the lawsuit, so it will be a while before we see any resolution in this case.
Other In-App Purchase Lawsuits
However, if the allegations are true, precedent may mean that Quijada may see a payout in the future.
In 2011, Apple was slapped with a lawsuit that claimed the company offered free games in order to lure children into making expensive in-app purchases without their parents' supervision and permission. At the time, Apple apps allowed children to make in-app purchases without having to enter a password within 15 minutes of an initial app purchase. Children unknowingly made hundreds of dollars of in-app purchases. Apple agreed to pay a $32.5 million settlement.
After a similar lawsuit, Google agreed to pay a $19 million settlement to refund kids' in-app purchases. Amazon has also been sued by the FTC for similar in-app purchases.
Quijada is seeking class action status for her lawsuit, so if you've also been charged an entertainment fee for using Chili's game apps, you may be eligible for a part of any future settlement.