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Apple refunds $6,131 iTunes bill for 8-year-old's unauthorized in-app purchases

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 
Apple may have made changes to its in-app purchasing protocols to safeguard against unwanted charges by minors, but the Cupertino company still shelled out more than $6,000 in order to cover the unauthorized purchases one British eight-year-old posted to her father's account.



In-app purchases have been an issue since their inception, but the feature is a proven way to monetize so-called "freemium" apps, or to simply add over-the-top profit for developers and Apple. Most recently, a British father told The Sun that Apple had refunded him ?4,000 ($6,131) that his daughter charged over the course of four months.

Lee Neale, 43, says that his daughter spent ?2,000 in six days on 74 transactions playing Campus Life, My Horse, Hay Day, and Smurfs' Village. Neale claims he only became aware of the expenditures when his bank froze his account.

Neale's daughter knew her father's iTunes password from having seen him enter it when downloading the games for her. He says he didn't notice the purchases at first, claiming that he had been busy at work and missed the emails telling him of the buys.

Initially, Apple refused to reimburse Neale for the in-app buys, saying that "all purchases made on the iTunes Store are final." Over the weekend, though, word emerged that Apple had reversed course in his case.

"Apple called me to say they will be refunding the money I have lost and apologized for closing my case so early," Neal said. "It has really saved my bacon."

Neale's case is just one among many in which minors have racked up sizable bills on their parents' iTunes accounts. In March, another British youth charged ?1,000 while playing a popular Simpsons game. Apple also reimbursed that family for the cost of the in-app purchases.

In 2011, a Pennsylvania man filed suit against Apple, claiming that the company's in-app purchasing system made it too easy for minors to make unwanted charges. Apple recently settled the suit, giving claimants a single $5 iTunes Store credit or a credit equal to the total amount of game currency that a minor charged to an account within a single forty-five day period.

Looking to head off future issues, Apple added a warning about in-app purchases to App Store titles that enable such actions. The App Store also now contains an educational section meant to instruct users in the realities of in-app purchases, as well as how to disable them in order to keep children from making unauthorized buys.
post #2 of 59

So if I got drunk and bought that much music and movies off of iTunes, could I get a refund?

post #3 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

So if I got drunk and bought that much music and movies off of iTunes, could I get a refund?

No, but if you are an unsupervised, naughty little eight year old you can!
post #4 of 59

I feel like they should have some stop loss limit - like, if more than $100 in in app purchases happen in X time, you get an email with a link to approve the transaction. I guess this probably doesn't happen too often, but still it feels like something easy enough to implement.

post #5 of 59

Unfortunately, we really do reward idiocy sometimes. 

 

This will only encourage more idiocy.

post #6 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadmatic View Post


No, but if you are an unsupervised, naughty little eight year old you can!

 

Unsupervised, naughty little eight year old … with a gormless irresponsible whinging father.  

post #7 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Unfortunately, we really do reward idiocy sometimes. 

 

This will only encourage more idiocy.

 

Seems to me these stories ail go on forever until Apple actually realises they shouldn't approve "freemium" games with ridiculously high value purchases in them.  I believe the legal term for it is an "attractive nuisance" and and it's something that is generally illegal in the real world.  Perhaps it's time to make it illegal in software as well.  

 

Personally I think the whole concept of "freemium" is a con, but if they are going to exist at all, Apple needs to at lest ensure that the prices reasonable and not predatory. 

 

I mean if some idiot loses 50 bucks because … he's an idiot, that's no big deal and wouldn't make the papers.  It's the fact that it's thousands of dollars that's the problem.  

Well, that and the idiotic British press which is the source of the publicising of the last five or six instances of this occurring . 

post #8 of 59
Just in case it isn't clear, this refund didn't cost Apple anything besides some lost income. They simply took it out of funds due the app developer. They also didn't do it from the kindness of their hearts -- the girl's father could just contest the charge and it would be up to Apple to take him to court and prove that he approved the charges (which he didn't).

So Apple didn't really have much choice here.
Edited by maxgraphic - 7/22/13 at 10:05pm

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post #9 of 59
I normally side with the customer in these stories, as it is all too easy for the kids to make big purchases. But this guy not only ignored his e-mail and his bank account AND HIS KID, but continued to do so for FOUR MONTHS. At some point personal responsibility has to set in. I started out liberal but wow, stories like this are what turn people more conservative as they get older.
post #10 of 59
The article says "over the course of four months" and "in six days." Could mean "on six distinct days over the course of four months," but it seems a little ambiguous.
post #11 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

I normally side with the customer in these stories, as it is all too easy for the kids to make big purchases. But this guy not only ignored his e-mail and his bank account AND HIS KID, but continued to do so for FOUR MONTHS. At some point personal responsibility has to set in. I started out liberal but wow, stories like this are what turn people more conservative as they get older.

 

Actually liberals stand for personal responsibility also, more so than most conservatives by many people's estimation.  

 

"Big Business" for example is about shirking personal responsibility.  "Environmentalism" is about taking personal responsibility. 

post #12 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drealoth View Post

I feel like they should have some stop loss limit - like, if more than $100 in in app purchases happen in X time, you get an email with a link to approve the transaction. I guess this probably doesn't happen too often, but still it feels like something easy enough to implement.

That's all well and good but if daddy is entering the password and not watching his account there could still be a ton of small buys that would go unnoticed etc.

At this point Apple needs to have a big ass warning where you turn in the devices, when you create or first log in your apple id and every time you download an app with IAP.filling the screen, making you not only enter your password but also answer one of your security questions before you can even get the app. And include info about the restriction and that if you continue and download the app there are no refunds no matter how much your kid buys cause he figured out your password etc.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #13 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Unfortunately, we really do reward idiocy sometimes. 

 

This will only encourage more idiocy.

Refund = reward?

What gain herein might encourage more "idiocy"?

Does Apple have a history of encouraging idiocy?

 

Just poofing ... or is it spoofing ...

post #14 of 59
In app purchases can go extreme with a 10 second demo then $10 charge after it, but thre mainly used for in game money.
post #15 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drealoth View Post

I feel like they should have some stop loss limit - like, if more than $100 in in app purchases happen in X time, you get an email with a link to approve the transaction. I guess this probably doesn't happen too often, but still it feels like something easy enough to implement.


That is ONE purchase in the Smurfs game.  Yes, a children's game with a $100 in-app purchase.  There are other games with similarly or more expensive items.

post #16 of 59
OK, I guess the refund solves part of the problem.

But what about all the other smurf villages (the ones that cost less than a compact car)? Where is the justice for them, as this 8-year old Genghis Khan crushes them beneath her boot?
post #17 of 59

Doesn't iOS have multiple user accounts?
 

post #18 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Actually liberals stand for personal responsibility also…

Hmm. Is that why they're generally associated with free food, free cell phones, free housing, and free healthcare, all sponsored by the government and paid for by people who work instead of live on the dole? 1tongue.gif;)

Weird. "Dole" comes from Old English, but every time I hear that phrase (from 1920) I think of someone in ragged clothes sitting in an empty room with a mountain of banana peels behind them. lol.gif

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #19 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Hmm. Is that why they're generally associated with free food, free cell phones, free housing, 

Generally, no.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

and free healthcare, all sponsored by the government and paid for by people who work instead of live on the dole?

 

Universal health coverage (as opposed to free healthcare) is probably what you're referring to. But this has been adopted by virtually all industrialized nations, regardless of governing party. The only notable exception (the only one?), until recently, is the US (although ObamaCare is still a far cry from what other nations have). So was the US alone in the right? Has every other nation practicing universal health coverage been wrong all these years? If this was a liberal cause, why didn't conservatives in various nations abolish this abomination the moment they take over the government?

post #20 of 59
Asking for more money after you're already paid for the app should be illegal. If the developer wants more money for the app, they should just charge more. I hate hidden fees.
post #21 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcallows View Post

Asking for more money after you're already paid for the app should be illegal. If the developer wants more money for the app, they should just charge more. I hate hidden fees.

"Asking for more money after you've already paid for the car should be illegal. If the manufacturer wants more money for a new feature put into your car, they should just charge more."

Note that the example proves how silly your wish is while uncovering how interesting your premise is. I think it would be neat if app developers offered an app as "in-app payments" and as "everything unlocked immediately" up front. Then again, most apps with in-app already have that functionality. But I certainly don't think it should be illegal.

Take some responsibility of your own.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #22 of 59
While I agreed strongly about the improper usage of in app purchases and felt that both Apple and the developers should have been held accountable for the previous issues- mainly having no mandatory password by default.
But That's long been fixed and there is absolutely no excuse now. 4 months of charges and he doesn't notice? This guy's a derilect. Don't give him a freakin dime!

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2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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post #23 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadmatic View Post


No, but if you are an unsupervised, naughty little eight year old you can!

 

Cool, I'll get my nephew right now!

post #24 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drealoth View Post

I feel like they should have some stop loss limit - like, if more than $100 in in app purchases happen in X time, you get an email with a link to approve the transaction. I guess this probably doesn't happen too often, but still it feels like something easy enough to implement.

 

The Apple ecosystem is often blessed with high income families who spend thousands of dollars on iTunes goodies. Simply put, they couldn't do something like that by default. 

 

A parental control option built into iTunes that prevents spending over a certain amount in a month would be a better option however. 

post #25 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

Unsupervised, naughty little eight year old … with a gormless irresponsible whinging father.  

 

Cool, I'll get my brother-in-law as well!

post #26 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Actually liberals stand for personal responsibility also, more so than most conservatives by many people's estimation.  

"Big Business" for example is about shirking personal responsibility.  "Environmentalism" is about taking personal responsibility. 

Dude- shhh. Do you have to make this political? please for the love of God.

But since you did- libertarians are by far the party that desires personal responsibility. I'm also not blind enough to think either major party thinks of personal responsibility.

Disclaimer: I'm not associated with any party (including libertarian). Although my views do line up with that more than the other parties. But my views rarely line up with any party. 1smile.gif
Edited by Andysol - 7/22/13 at 10:24pm

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2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
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post #27 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post


Dude- shhh. Do you have to make this political? please for the love of God.

But since you did- libertarians are by far the party that desires personal responsibility. I'm also not blind enough to think either major party thinks of personal responsibility.

Disclaimer: I'm not associated with any party (including libertarian). Although my views do line up with that more than the other parties. But my views rarely line up with any party. 1smile.gif

 

Well I was thinking more liberal vs. conservative as types of people, not actual political parties.  

As in that old theory that all people can generally be divided into those two general types, and that all the political parties of the world are merely expressions of same.  Which is why we often end up with dualities in politics. 

 

I never really thought where Libertarians fit in that schema but I strongly suspect that (ironically for them), they would fall on the conservative side.  Sort of "conservative freedomists." 

post #28 of 59
Incredible how many genius parents there are, that give their 8 year old girls with no concept of money unfettered access to their credit cards, then bitch about it later.

That being said, I still find the practise of eggregious in app-purchases in free games absolutely disgusting.
Edited by Slurpy - 7/23/13 at 12:01am
post #29 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Unfortunately, we really do reward idiocy sometimes. 

This will only encourage more idiocy.

Yeah, that what you get for ignoring those emails containing your iTunes invoices.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #30 of 59

People should simply start caring about their children more and supervising what they do on those devices, rather than blindly giving them a password in order to allow them to download content by themselves, because this obviously enables them to purchase things.

 

On the other hand side, obviously developers with extremely high priced in-app purchases should be looked at in more detail.

 

Just whatever you do, please, please don't ruin the OS with more warnings about some garbage, the last thing we need is a couple of dialog boxes to click away every time we perform an action. ;)

post #31 of 59

Part of me wishes that Apple had never implemented IAP. It feels like the current state of the App Store discourages developers from making high quality, high value, "honest" apps.

post #32 of 59

Blame Apple!

 

People generally are greedy, and often blame others for their misfortunes.

post #33 of 59

yeah, I don't like the idea of 'in app' purchases, they are often masked underneath tricky terminologies and vague information.

 

I agree with some of the other comments though, just don't give an 8 year old access to credit, simple. One would imagine that this young person had access to M+ and R rated materials as well, right?

post #34 of 59

Asking for more money after you're already paid for the app should be illegal. If the developer wants more money for the app, they should just charge more. I hate hidden fees.

 

The point of "freemium" is precisely so that you don't pay for the app itself.

 

One of the factors that has led to the widespread creation of "freemium" apps is the lack of an option to provide demos in the app store.  If you wish to make a demo available you have to either write a "Lite" version and ask your users to buy the full version or provide an in-app purchase which is seamless and doesn't require downloading, installing, and transferring data between apps.  At the moment I am writing an RTS for iOS with a huge tutorial which will ship as a free version with an option to upgrade to the full version that provides extra flexibility in controls, harder levels, more powerful units, GameCenter integration, and network play over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi LAN, and the Internet through GameCenter.  Furthermore, it has long been established that the "fermium" model works best.

 

Well I was thinking more liberal vs. conservative as types of people, not actual political parties.

 

It is incorrect to think about socio-economic political views as a one-dimensional axis, because it's perfectly possible (and I can explain why, if needed) to be socially liberal and economically conservative at the same time (I am one such case).  Another axis to consider is religion, and you have a political stance on that axis even if you are a skeptic atheist.

post #35 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Windle View Post

yeah, I don't like the idea of 'in app' purchases, they are often masked underneath tricky terminologies and vague information.

 

I agree with some of the other comments though, just don't give an 8 year old access to credit, simple. One would imagine that this young person had access to M+ and R rated materials as well, right?

 

Well, from the article, he didn't "give" his daughter the password.  She saw him enter it, and then did so on her own (which means, to me, that she's either a bright kid, or his PW is something like "1234" or something, but anyways ... ).

post #36 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


Hmm. Is that why they're generally associated with free food, free cell phones, free housing, and free healthcare, all sponsored by the government and paid for by people who work instead of live on the dole? 1tongue.gif;)

Weird. "Dole" comes from Old English, but every time I hear that phrase (from 1920) I think of someone in ragged clothes sitting in an empty room with a mountain of banana peels behind them. lol.gif

 

I think his name is Bob. 

post #37 of 59
To avoid this and possible frauds i never link my itunes account to a credit card. I load it with itunes gift cards that i buy on sale. Both cheaper and safer.
post #38 of 59
Some people have some real intellect issues.

There is nothing wrong with or illegal about in app purchases. There is nothing even remotely undesirable about them. It's brilliant. It is also completely secure.

You CANNOT make an in app purchase unless you have the password AND IAP is enabled on the device.

Repeat.

You CANNOT make an in app purchase unless you have the password AND IAP is enabled on the device.

Therefor, the only time these 'mistakes' happen, is if you're a complete idiot. IAP should either be turned off altogether on your kid's device, and they should NOT know the password.
post #39 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatisgoingon View Post


That is ONE purchase in the Smurfs game.  Yes, a children's game with a $100 in-app purchase.  There are other games with similarly or more expensive items.

Whaaat??? If true then perhaps the poster who suggested that Apple not approve games (particularly those targeting pre-teens) that include ridiculously high-priced in-app purchases has a great point. Not likely that any good parent would approve a $100 add-on to a mobile phone game for any child, meaning the developer is hoping that child knows enough about the parents account to do it themselves.

Having raised two children of my own I can say I was surprised more than once by how observant my kids were.
melior diabolus quem scies
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melior diabolus quem scies
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post #40 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

You CANNOT make an in app purchase unless you have the password AND IAP is enabled on the device.

Repeat.

You CANNOT make an in app purchase unless you have the password AND IAP is enabled on the device.

 

UNLESS the "Require password" setting is set to 15 minutes (the default) AND someone else entered the password within the last 15 minutes.

 

Repeat. 

 


UNLESS the "Require password" setting is set to 15 minutes (the default) AND someone else entered the password within the last 15 minutes.

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