The rapid growth of Google Korea in South Korea's mobile app market has also led to a rise in related consumer damages. According to the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA), Google Korea is passive in protecting consumers, with 45 percent of damage relief reports not processed.
According to the data submitted by Korea Consumer Agency to Rep. Park Kwang-on of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, a total of 225 cases of damage relief were reported between 2014 and August this year.
The number dropped from 39 in 2014 to eight in 2015 before rising back to 32 in 2016. The number of reported cases is expected to exceed 52 in 2017 and 2018, and 44 so far this year (August).
According to the type of damages, 149 cases of contract-related damage relief were reported, including non-compliance, contract termination, breach of contract and incompetent contracts. Unfair acts came next with 55 cases, followed by quality and AS-related reports with 12.
Google Korea has only refunded 73 of the damage relief reports filed with the KCA. There were only six cases of contract termination, six cases of compensation, two cases of correction of unfair practices and only one case of repair.
It has been confirmed that Google Korea refused to pay compensation or refund 45 percent (102 cases) of the damage relief reports even after receiving notification from the KCA, or refused to implement the measures.
For example, in December last year, underage children paid 1.88 million won for items in mobile games through Google Play on 215 occasions, raising the issue of a system in which minor applicants can pay for items without parental consent, but Google Korea declined the refund without due reason.
The KCA who received the damage report recommended a full refund, but Google Korea only refunded 50 percent of the payment amount and closed the case, saying the applicant, who is in the name of the credit card, was negligent in his duty of guidance and education.
"Google Korea should actively deal with consumer damages at least when it is being criticized for free rides, such as not paying for network use," said Rep. Park.
He then said related ministries, including the FTC, should check Google Korea's consumer protection regulations to make improvements.