Subscription trap: Amazon Music Unlimited bookable despite parental controls

In the past, Fire-TV was able to view the music content just as easily from the start-up as movies or series, but since the introduction of the paid additional option 'Amazon Music Unlimited' at the end of last year, this has unfortunately worked ni...

In the past, Fire-TV was able to view the music content just as easily from the start-up as movies or series, but unfortunately this no longer works since the introduction of the paid additional option 'Amazon Music Unlimited' at the end of last year.


Amazon Music, which can be used for free as part of its Prime membership, now appears as a kind of app in the music entry of the Start menu. This app must also be started as an intermediate step as such. So far, so good – but there are also pitfalls lurking in the form of unwanted subscriptions.



Especially parents who have confidently left the remote control to their children after the parental controls have been set up will not be badly surprised when suddenly debits for digital content appear on the account draw, which cannot be explained in this way.


We came across this problem already in December 2016 and have already pointed out this to Amazon several times – unfortunately in vain.



Of course, we also received feedback from Amazon, which had a rather meaningless character. We have even given Amazon the right to have the log files of our two devices read out and, together with a technician, re-enacted the unauthorized booking of the subscription. Mails like this have almost an entertaining character:


… I'm sorry that you have trouble with your Amazon Fire TV and completing your Unlimited membership or parental control. I forwarded the bug to our technical team and they are investigating the issue in more detail. We always strive to resolve any difficulties as quickly as possible. Cases like this, however, rarely occur


But what is behind this story, in which one can always ask oneself whether it is simply a programming sloppiness or perhaps pure intention? Because the amounts are cleverly chosen small enough not to stand out immediately.


But simply in turn, because many roads lead to Rome or to the unwanted subscription, if the offspring with the remote control falls into the click-technical blood rush and can no longer get the finger away from the Ok-Button.


Parental controls that no longer work


This is not really mature and well thought out, because we are now showing how easy it is for children to book paid content as a subscription by simply confirming with the Ok button, although this should be impossible based on the settings. But first we review the options for parental controls.



If everything is set and activated correctly (and this is it since the purchase of the box and stick), you will be prompted for pin input (which is the purpose of the thing).



First, you activate all options that you can activate with "On". That alone should be enough to block all unwanted content for users who don't have the pin.



But we go even further and even lock all apps. This works perfectly with all apps, because you don't even get into the app menu anymore. However, a small Gallic village has successfully re-entered the table to this day: the Amazon Music app!



Now let's go back to the main menu and select "Music". This area is still selectable and clickable. You can accept it out of convenience – or not. But why isn't the same for Music as it is for all other streaming services? Oh, it's from Amazon itself.



From that moment on, parental controls are completely defused. Apart from the fact that access to all content is unlimited and you cannot subject anything to the age limit (other services can do this, even Entertain of Telekom), the Filius can now switch and operate as he pleases!


Subscription without any security query


If you have a Prime membership and use Amazon Music without an additional subscription, you will also see the content from Music Unlimited unasked when searching for tracks or performers since December.


If you click on these – smaller children can't read yet or understand what they've read – you'll immediately see the membership booking, which we'll be coming up with in a while. By the way, this also works with the options button on the remote control, so you don't even have to look for anything.



While when you click on the search results, the booking window appears immediately, the options menu offers at least an intermediate step, which can be skipped immediately by pressing "Ok".



Let's get to what happens when you find something or into the options menu. The option "Start Now" is preselected by default, so you only have to press the "Ok" button.



Now a lot of text with four options appears: three different numbers and once "No, thank you" in small and inconspicuous. The month option with the small amount is automatically preselected.


But what about parental controls, which were supposed to prevent this very purchase? Let's remember: Search, find, three times with "OK confirm – and now?



Three, Two, One… Mine!


No pin query, everything is simply and conveniently preset so that you have clicked through everything in less than three seconds! And that should be something like parental controls and "cases like this rarely occur"? In the order history, this completely simple OK triple jump is also visible as follows:



When we reproduced this promotion together with Amazon, of course, our account was debited again. Three times because we tested both devices (box and stick) again and once again involved the technician on the phone:



After we had even allowed Amazon access to the infrastructure and the log files of the terminals, it has been done to this day: Exactly nothing. Thus, stressed parents (it is not an isolated case) only one thing remains: cancel until the doctor arrives. However – as an Amazon employee told us – a continuous cancellation of the service is not really good for our internally visible vita…


As a loyal customer, one may (reluctantly) remember terminations that Amazon recently received with too many returns or returns. cancellations. Kindle users will certainly appreciate this.

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About the author

Igor Wallossek

Editor-in-chief and name-giver of igor'sLAB as the content successor of Tom's Hardware Germany, whose license was returned in June 2019 in order to better meet the qualitative demands of web content and challenges of new media such as YouTube with its own channel.

Computer nerd since 1983, audio freak since 1979 and pretty much open to anything with a plug or battery for over 50 years.

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