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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    applezillaapplezilla Posts: 941member


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

  • Reply 2 of 58
    chadmaticchadmatic Posts: 285member
    applezilla wrote: »
    <span style="color:rgb(54,54,54);font-family:'Helvetica Neue', Tahoma, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:19px;">So if I got drunk and bought that much music and movies off of iTunes, could I get a refund?</span>

    No, but if you are an unsupervised, naughty little eight year old you can!
  • Reply 3 of 58
    drealothdrealoth Posts: 79member


    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.

  • Reply 4 of 58
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,221member


    Unfortunately, we really do reward idiocy sometimes. 


     


    This will only encourage more idiocy.

  • Reply 5 of 58
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    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.  

  • Reply 6 of 58
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    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 . 

  • Reply 7 of 58
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 58
    ktappektappe Posts: 769member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 58
    arlorarlor Posts: 499member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 58
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    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. 

  • Reply 11 of 58
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    drealoth wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 58
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    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 ...

  • Reply 13 of 58
    In app purchases can go extreme with a 10 second demo then $10 charge after it, but thre mainly used for in game money.
  • Reply 14 of 58

    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.

  • Reply 15 of 58
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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?
  • Reply 16 of 58
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    Doesn't iOS have multiple user accounts?

     

  • Reply 17 of 58
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    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? :p;)

    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:
  • Reply 18 of 58
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    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?

  • Reply 19 of 58
    jcallowsjcallows Posts: 142member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 58
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    jcallows wrote: »
    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.
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