In-app purchase in spotlight again as boy racks up ?1,000 iPad bill

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Eight-year-old Theo Rowland-Fry's parents thought nothing of letting him play a "Simpsons" game on the family iPad ? until a recent bank statement showed charges of almost ?1,000, that is.

in-app


The Belfast Telegraph carried news on Wednesday that in-app purchasing power on Apple's iPad had led to yet another child racking up a sizable bill playing with the popular tablet, this time to the tune of ?980. Theo's parents say that he has no idea of the impact of his Simpsons shopping spree.

"Theo is only just eight," said Nick Rowland-Fry, Theo's father, "and has no real concept of the monetary value attached. As far as he was concerned he was just buying doughnuts."

The Rowland-Frys were refunded the ?980, but they expressed concern that the same could happen to other people.

Theo's digital doughnut splurge comes just weeks after a five-year-old in Britain charged ?1,700 to his parents, all in the course of playing the game Zombie. That boy's parents were also refunded.

Not all in-app shopping sprees have ended as happily. In 2011, a Phoenixville, PA, man filed suit against Apple on behalf of himself and others who had incurred unauthorized charges for game-related content. The suit alleged that Apple had been allowed to "pocket millions of dollars" on unauthorized transactions and that the company's password policy was insufficient to block such transactions. Apple moved to settle the case in late February, offering the claimants $5 iTunes credits and full refunds for claims over $30.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 80
    Is it a contest now to see who can rack up the most?
  • Reply 2 of 80
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,157member


    This is what happens when you think your iPad is the babysitter. What happened to parenting?! My son is 7 years old and in 1st grade. His iPad is locked with a password, which he knows, but he never use it without permission. Restrictions are on (again he knows the password) but when he wants to buy from the App Store or IAP he knows that I need to do these things not him. WTF wrong with these people!

  • Reply 3 of 80
    buckalecbuckalec Posts: 192member
    This kid and family are from Bristol, England. Belfast kids are a lot smarter and have the In-App purchases setting to 'off'
  • Reply 4 of 80


    Android has a "Kids Mode" App that locks the device so there are no in-app purchase possible.  I think Apple should implement something similar:  A kid mode that the user cannot change settings and a pre-set limit on how much the kid can spend a week or a month.

  • Reply 5 of 80
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member


    Apple, give us configurable, multiple user logins!!!


     


    image

  • Reply 6 of 80


    How about a AppleID for that unit without a CC on it.  Plenty of free email host's out there.  This will prevent "kid buy" syndrome by not even letting them buy anything.  

  • Reply 7 of 80
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,372member
    Cool. So all I need to do is racking up a high enough bill and then complain and I get my money back. Nice one.
  • Reply 8 of 80
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    You can already disable IAP, among other parental controls, but you probably don't even need to.... just don't give your kid a password that can take money from your credit card account!

    You need a password for IAP currently. Even if you've entered your password already for a download, I believe you need it again--immediately, no delay--for IAP. Correct me if I have the current state of affairs wrong.

    But there are hundreds if not thousands of iOS users, so stupid mistakes will be made. Guaranteed. Unless you ban ALL ADULTS from buying things on their phone, some adults will let kids do so too.
  • Reply 9 of 80
    gprovidagprovida Posts: 247member
    Did I miss something, doesn't the parent have to set up the iPad for the kid to do purchases including a password? If the parents neglected to set limitations or even better set it up then gave the kid unsupervised access it is hard to see how Apple is to blame. Oh well my cats don't play games so I am not the best person to comment.
  • Reply 10 of 80
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    This would only happen in the United Kingdom...

    Obviously, I am referring to the bill being in pounds sterling. ;)
  • Reply 11 of 80
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    This wouldn't have happened if Steve Jobs were alive¡
  • Reply 12 of 80
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,120member
    Android has a "Kids Mode" App that locks the device so there are no in-app purchase possible.  I think Apple should implement something similar:  A kid mode that the user cannot change settings and a pre-set limit on how much the kid can spend a week or a month.

    Apple already has such stuff. But it is up to the owners to use it and not give their kid access o their credit card payment info through iTMS.
  • Reply 13 of 80
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


    This is what happens when you think your iPad is the babysitter. What happened to parenting?! My son is 7 years old and in 1st grade. His iPad is locked with a password, which he knows, but he never use it without permission. Restrictions are on (again he knows the password) but when he wants to buy from the App Store or IAP he knows that I need to do these things not him. WTF wrong with these people!



     


     


    Agreed! Babysitter the iPad is not.  Maybe the parents should not be coddled by Apple, that's what they have government, but rather have the parents pay the bill and the story would be... Parents, You Can Pay Attention or Pay Your BIll!


     


    Just be thankful it was only money being racked up and that Apple initiates a app submission that must meet Apple standards.  Your kid, instead of racking up a bill, could be redirected to adult sites, or talking to sexual predators, or someone trying to find out personal information...  who knows what a kid could spill out?!


     


    At least stay with the kid and watch him play a couple of levels of the game to see if this in-app purchasing draw is in there and poses a situation.  If you are going to forfeit your responsibilities as a parent, then maybe you should forfeit your child as well!


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  • Reply 14 of 80
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member


    I think developers need to take a bit of responsibility here. Who decided that it would be a good idea to put a $99.99 IAP into a kids game? It's only going to cause trouble.

  • Reply 15 of 80
    droiddroid Posts: 38member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by HawkBlade View Post


    How about a AppleID for that unit without a CC on it.  Plenty of free email host's out there.  This will prevent "kid buy" syndrome by not even letting them buy anything.  



     


    An iPad only with default apps is no fun for your kids and you need valid Apple ID's for services like iMessage, Game Center, iCloud backup… You will need to switch Apple ID's to install apps, Apple prevent iOS devices from changing Apple ID's multiple times (at least for automatic downloads), you get locked to that account for 90 days after one ID change.


    You will also need to keep the free email accounts active otherwise any purchases will become invalid on your next device. Overall it's a crappy situation.


     


    It would be easier if Apple gave iOS multiple logins, that way all the browser cookies, app settings & logins can be hidden from the kids whilst still allowing adults to use the device capabilities unhindered.


     


    iOS just isn't designed for sharing. It seems like Apple want you to just buy a device to dedicate it to the kids, either they can't figure out how to make iOS multiuser, or they have other reasons for not doing so. Hopefully the competition will push them to making it work soon.

  • Reply 16 of 80
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,157member
    droid wrote: »
    An iPad only with default apps is no fun for your kids and you need valid Apple ID's for services like iMessage, Game Center, iCloud backup… You will need to switch Apple ID's to install apps, Apple prevent iOS devices from changing Apple ID's multiple times (at least for automatic downloads), you get locked to that account for 90 days after one ID change.
    You will also need to keep the free email accounts active otherwise any purchases will become invalid on your next device. Overall it's a crappy situation.

    That's not completely accurate. You can have separate Apple ID for services (icloud, facetime, .. etc) and another for App Store purchases on the same device. I have an Apple ID for purchases only and I use it for all my ios devices (used by me, my wife, and my son) and each device use its users Apple ID for services like FaceTime, iMessages, iCloud, etc.
  • Reply 17 of 80
    " Even if you've entered your password already for a download, I believe you need it again--immediately, no delay--for IAP. Correct me if I have the current state of affairs wrong"

    That's not true, I think. By default, the "IAP" is on and "require password" is 15 minutes.

    I know this because I thought it was just like you said, but one day i had some guests over, and they recommended a (free) app. I downloaded it immediately and put the iPad back on the table. Now one of their kids grabbed the iPad and started playing a (different) game. Later that day I received an email from apple with a receipt for 10 euros in app purchases.

    So I also contacted Apple Support, and they refunded the in app purchases. However I remember that I was quite pissed when I saw the initial receipt and I think it would be better to set Require Password to "Direct" by default. (Maybe put a hint in the password screen that you can easily remember the password for 15 minutes if you want that, by setting it in the "Restrictions" menu )

    [BTW it didn't happen in the UK :) But in the Netherlands]
  • Reply 18 of 80
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    nasserae wrote: »
    This is what happens when you think your iPad is the babysitter. What happened to parenting?! My son is 7 years old and in 1st grade. His iPad is locked with a password, which he knows, but he never use it without permission. Restrictions are on (again he knows the password) but when he wants to buy from the App Store or IAP he knows that I need to do these things not him. WTF wrong with these people!

    I agree with your general sentiment but most people simply aren't that tech savvy and I can see how someone who has to put in their password every time buy an app might not realize that it says in there for a certain time frame. They might not even know there is something called in-app purchases that would need to be considered.

    That said, I do think so of the blame falls on them for not knowing what they are giving their children access to when they hand them their devices but I do think Apple needs to alter the way in-app purchases work. Make it so each time a password is required, regardless of when it was last put in, but offer a toggle in Settings with a warning of what this will allow. This not only saves these kinds of stories from happening with ignorant parents but also allows Apple to protect themselves and their brand by making it happen less.
  • Reply 19 of 80
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post



    You can already disable IAP, among other parental controls, but you probably don't even need to.... just don't give your kid a password that can take money from your credit card account!



    You need a password for IAP currently. Even if you've entered your password already for a download, I believe you need it again--immediately, no delay--for IAP. Correct me if I have the current state of affairs wrong.



    But there are hundreds if not thousands of iOS users, so stupid mistakes will be made. Guaranteed. Unless you ban ALL ADULTS from buying things on their phone, some adults will let kids do so too.


     


    iOS is on millions of devices, so these kinds of PR debacles will come up. If Apple wanted to lessen the rate of occurrence, they could have the in app purchase feature disabled by default or allow allow some kind of purchasing limit to be set at an account level. Otherwise you're likely to continue reading similar stories. The use of "freemium" business models didn't seem that widespread a couple years ago.

  • Reply 20 of 80
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    nasserae wrote: »
    That's not completely accurate. You can have separate Apple ID for services (icloud, facetime, .. etc) and another for App Store purchases on the same device. I have an Apple ID for purchases only and I use it for all my ios devices (used by me, my wife, and my son) and each device use its users Apple ID for services like FaceTime, iMessages, iCloud, etc.

    I'd love to see a guest account in iOS where you can designate which apps can be used but I have a feeling Apple would rather just have you buy additional devices.
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