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  • Apple Refunds the Accidental $6k iTunes Bill of an Eight-year Old


    It seems that in-app purchases are quickly becomming more of a hassle than they’re worth. Already we have seen two different accounts of major accidental in-app purchases ranging in the thousands of dollars (1), (2) and the stories just keep rolling in. It seems almost as though numerous parents are learning nothing when Apple issues statements about turning on restriction features in iOS to prevent such mishaps.

    The latest story comes from an eight-year old U.K. daughter that knew the iTunes password to her father's iPad and purchased way too many in-app purchases from the free My Horse game for the iPad. According to the report, the daughter managed to purchase nearly $6100 in add-ons over a five-month period. The 43-year old father, Lee Neale, never even knew it was happening until he was locked out of his bank account due to the lack of available funds.

    To make things worse, all of the receipts that Apple would normally send via e-mail were being sent to work e-mail that the father supposedly didn’t have access to at the time of the incident. The bank had never notified Neale of the frivolous spending either, so as one could imagine, the rather large sums of disappearing money may have been the main cause for alarm.

    Neale tried the only thing he could do and contacted Apple to try and get a refund. Apple reportedly dismissed the father saying there was nothing they could do about the situation, and understandably, Neale was upset:

    Lily is only eight and hasn't grasped the concept of money. She probably wouldn't know how much a bag of crisps costs.

    I was very surprised how dismissive Apple were. This was an eight-year-old girl. Basically iTunes have told me categorically that I won't be getting my money back. I am also disappointed that my bank didn't alert me to what was going on.
    Fortunately, four days later, Apple called the father back with a changed mind after he had contacted the local newspapers:

    Apple called me to say they will be refunding the money I have lost and apologised for closing my case so early. It really has saved my bacon.
    Apple refunded all of the money back the parent after having reminded him of the restriction features in iOS to prevent these catastrophes from happening. We think he will probably start using them from now on...

    Notably, Apple has been taking steps to help make app-buyers more aware that applications will include in-app purchases before the user has a chance to download the application.

    Sources: The Inquirer via Cult of Mac
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Refunds the Accidental $6k iTunes Bill of an Eight-year Old started by Anthony Bouchard View original post
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. ThatOneProfile's Avatar
      ThatOneProfile -
      Dumb fu**ing parents giving their kids iPhones. My 2 year old nephew understands what iap is on a damn ipad! Come on people.
    1. bmwraw8482's Avatar
      bmwraw8482 -
      My 4 yr old has my old iPhone 4.... And it has restrictions on in-app purchases, plus I keep an eye on what he's doing. I must be doing something wrong
    1. PokemonDesigner's Avatar
      PokemonDesigner -
      Why do people let children use a several hundred dollar device to begin with. In my honest opinion I don't think anyone under the age of 16 should have a smart phone, under 14 for laptops and tablets, and under 10 for music devices like iPod touches. That's just my opinion and that is how the devices were originally made and should be used.
    1. REMED1AL's Avatar
      REMED1AL -
      So, if my 8 year old gets my phone I'm not responsible for the charges?

      Under this logic let's go to Walmart and feed our kids in the store with food we don't pay for. Then when we get caught point out the fact that we clearly weren't paying attention to them and therefore are not responsible for the food.
    1. bmwraw8482's Avatar
      bmwraw8482 -
      Quote Originally Posted by REMED1AL View Post
      So, if my 8 year old gets my phone I'm not responsible for the charges?

      Under this logic let's go to Walmart and feed our kids in the store with food we don't pay for. Then when we get caught point out the fact that we clearly weren't paying attention to them and therefore are not responsible for the food.
      Don't forget that the kids don't understand money yet either
    1. Perceptum's Avatar
      Perceptum -
      Typical, he doesn't have enough brains to look at his bank account and yet he is still legally allowed to have children!
    1. stevelucky's Avatar
      stevelucky -
      Quote Originally Posted by REMED1AL View Post
      So, if my 8 year old gets my phone I'm not responsible for the charges?

      Under this logic let's go to Walmart and feed our kids in the store with food we don't pay for. Then when we get caught point out the fact that we clearly weren't paying attention to them and therefore are not responsible for the food.
      There's a pretty big difference between the cost of physical and virtual goods. If your kid ate food at a store without paying, the store would have to eat the cost of those goods. Obviously that's unfair to the store. In a virtual world, there's no real cost to speak of, (other than bandwidth, I suppose). While Apple could always refuse to refund the money, it's no real big deal for them to refund it (plus, it makes for MUCH better PR). Nobody really lost anything.
    1. REMED1AL's Avatar
      REMED1AL -
      Quote Originally Posted by stevelucky View Post
      There's a pretty big difference between the cost of physical and virtual goods. If your kid ate food at a store without paying, the store would have to eat the cost of those goods. Obviously that's unfair to the store. In a virtual world, there's no real cost to speak of, (other than bandwidth, I suppose). While Apple could always refuse to refund the money, it's no real big deal for them to refund it (plus, it makes for MUCH better PR). Nobody really lost anything.
      A product for sale at a set price, regardless or physical or virtual, has a value. Video games are digital content that could, in theory be duplicated without cost, yet have a very real value to them.

      With console gaming you may buy a physical game you did not buy it for the disk; it was the "no real cost" digital content that you bought.

      Aside from the value or the type of goods is the lack of personal responsibility for actions. This is just another situation where someone can have a good enough excuse to be free of fault. It seems more and more we can get away with anything.
    1. politicalslug's Avatar
      politicalslug -
      This has nothing to do with stupid parents. This is deceptive marketing by developers at its worst. Apple knows this and Apple should be the one to rectify this. There is no reason a casual game should have options to purchase coin packages for $99, yet there are literally thousands upon thousands of games out there that have this. There are triple A console games for Xbox and PS3 that cost developers over a hundred million dollars to develop and market, yet they never cost more than $60 dollars. How then can these casual pocket games cost so much money to play? These games are designed to scam people out of their money and only by contacting the media is that becoming evident. This unfortunate situation would never have been resolved if this father hadn't gone to the media. If Apple were serious about fixing the situation they would put a lifetime maximum on the amount developers could charge for in-app purchases over the lifetime of a particular app. Users should demand this of Apple and developers. How can you people just sit back and call these people idiots? Do you honestly think having the ability to spend $6100 on a mobile pony game is reasonable? Forget poor parenting and all that jazz, this never should have made it through the appstore approval process in the first place. It's all a scam!
    1. Cokeman's Avatar
      Cokeman -
      This is complete ********. The parents need to be held responsible for what their child is doing. How do we know these people aren't actually doing it themselves & blaming the child. If you are dumb enough to hand a devices over, with a credit card attached to your account, you deserve what happens.
      This has everything to do with parents not using their brain. It's called parental control turn off in-app purchases. Remove CC from iTunes account.
    1. tongxinshe's Avatar
      tongxinshe -
      Quote Originally Posted by stevelucky View Post
      There's a pretty big difference between the cost of physical and virtual goods. If your kid ate food at a store without paying, the store would have to eat the cost of those goods. Obviously that's unfair to the store. In a virtual world, there's no real cost to speak of, (other than bandwidth, I suppose). While Apple could always refuse to refund the money, it's no real big deal for them to refund it (plus, it makes for MUCH better PR). Nobody really lost anything.
      Wrong. Apple still needs to pay the developer 70%*$6100=$4270.
    1. REMED1AL's Avatar
      REMED1AL -
      Quote Originally Posted by politicalslug View Post
      This has nothing to do with stupid parents. This is deceptive marketing by developers at its worst. Apple knows this and Apple should be the one to rectify this. There is no reason a casual game should have options to purchase coin packages for $99, yet there are literally thousands upon thousands of games out there that have this. There are triple A console games for Xbox and PS3 that cost developers over a hundred million dollars to develop and market, yet they never cost more than $60 dollars. How then can these casual pocket games cost so much money to play? These games are designed to scam people out of their money and only by contacting the media is that becoming evident. This unfortunate situation would never have been resolved if this father hadn't gone to the media. If Apple were serious about fixing the situation they would put a lifetime maximum on the amount developers could charge for in-app purchases over the lifetime of a particular app. Users should demand this of Apple and developers. How can you people just sit back and call these people idiots? Do you honestly think having the ability to spend $6100 on a mobile pony game is reasonable? Forget poor parenting and all that jazz, this never should have made it through the appstore approval process in the first place. It's all a scam!
      I agree with a maximum cost per app, per account. Let's hope Apple pushes for an overall change.

      While to most we can easily see this is silly and paying hundreds for simple phone games is ridiculous there are more people doing this with full acknowledgment of it than kids accidentally charging to their parents accounts. In these cases were not to judge what others choose to spend their money on.
    1. novadam's Avatar
      novadam -
      Quote Originally Posted by PokemonDesigner View Post
      Why do people let children use a several hundred dollar device to begin with. In my honest opinion I don't think anyone under the age of 16 should have a smart phone, under 14 for laptops and tablets, and under 10 for music devices like iPod touches. That's just my opinion and that is how the devices were originally made and should be used.
      I couldn't disagree more. I'm guessing you don't have a kid?
    1. politicalslug's Avatar
      politicalslug -
      I'm amazed you people honestly think it's the parents fault. You people honestly believe every single parent buying an Apple device understands the risk of supposedly free apps hiding the ability to charge their credit cards thousands of dollars? Suddenly everyone is an expert on how to access and use all the settings on their device? None of you have friends and family members that ask you for help using the phone or ipad? Everyone, every single human being buying one of these devices, knows about setting the purchasing controls? Did they explain this to you when you bought the device? I buy all of my iDevices from Apple's retail stores and never did they mention purchase controls. How then are parents to know about this? Parent's aren't to blame. Developers are counting on this kind of trickery to make a quick buck, that's why they have switched to "freemium" models in droves. Wake up people!!!!
    1. ThatOneProfile's Avatar
      ThatOneProfile -
      Quote Originally Posted by politicalslug View Post
      This has nothing to do with stupid parents. This is deceptive marketing by developers at its worst. Apple knows this and Apple should be the one to rectify this. There is no reason a casual game should have options to purchase coin packages for $99, yet there are literally thousands upon thousands of games out there that have this. There are triple A console games for Xbox and PS3 that cost developers over a hundred million dollars to develop and market, yet they never cost more than $60 dollars. How then can these casual pocket games cost so much money to play? These games are designed to scam people out of their money and only by contacting the media is that becoming evident. This unfortunate situation would never have been resolved if this father hadn't gone to the media. If Apple were serious about fixing the situation they would put a lifetime maximum on the amount developers could charge for in-app purchases over the lifetime of a particular app. Users should demand this of Apple and developers. How can you people just sit back and call these people idiots? Do you honestly think having the ability to spend $6100 on a mobile pony game is reasonable? Forget poor parenting and all that jazz, this never should have made it through the appstore approval process in the first place. It's all a scam!
      Tin foil hats anyone? No one is "scamming" anybody here. Wake up. Developers can charge whatever they feel for their apps. Whether it be free/freemium or paid. It's your choice to download and let your kids play it. Suppose you should go to android if this doesn't suit you. Why buy smart phones anyway? You honestly have more to worry about if you cannot read plain text.
    1. RyoSaeba's Avatar
      RyoSaeba -
      I feel that both parties are partially at fault. As mentioned already, most "free" apps aren't free anymore. Developers are getting smarter about where to place IAPs. As for the parent, why the heck does the kid have his password? That's just insane. The only thing I can think of is he was too lazy to enter it himself when the kid is trying to download those "free" games.
    1. iRevival's Avatar
      iRevival -
      Quote Originally Posted by politicalslug View Post
      I'm amazed you people honestly think it's the parents fault. You people honestly believe every single parent buying an Apple device understands the risk of supposedly free apps hiding the ability to charge their credit cards thousands of dollars? Suddenly everyone is an expert on how to access and use all the settings on their device? None of you have friends and family members that ask you for help using the phone or ipad? Everyone, every single human being buying one of these devices, knows about setting the purchasing controls? Did they explain this to you when you bought the device? I buy all of my iDevices from Apple's retail stores and never did they mention purchase controls. How then are parents to know about this? Parent's aren't to blame. Developers are counting on this kind of trickery to make a quick buck, that's why they have switched to "freemium" models in droves. Wake up people!!!!
      I agree. My 2 year old has an iPod touch that remains locked down for the most part. Every once in awhile I take it and remove the restrictions so I can unlock a full app or download something new for him. MANY of the "kids" games are so congested with ads that you can't play the "free" game at all. Disabling iap is a fantastic feature that I take advantage of to the fullest, however, after downloading a new game for my son today I forgot to enable it again and he accidentally bought something. I don't know what it was, the app looks the same, but I saw it go though and immediately enabled to restriction and chalked it up as a loss because of my own carelessness. Even so, I came across the iap restriction for the first time when I was blocking my daughters iPad from installing new apps to prevent accidental purchases. Never knew it was there until then. And my son knows how to click the "X" to get rid of the ads but the developers don't make it easy at all. The problem lies moreso on them than on the parents.
    1. djarkiz's Avatar
      djarkiz -
      Quote Originally Posted by politicalslug View Post
      This has nothing to do with stupid parents. This is deceptive marketing by developers at its worst. Apple knows this and Apple should be the one to rectify this. There is no reason a casual game should have options to purchase coin packages for $99, yet there are literally thousands upon thousands of games out there that have this. There are triple A console games for Xbox and PS3 that cost developers over a hundred million dollars to develop and market, yet they never cost more than $60 dollars. How then can these casual pocket games cost so much money to play? These games are designed to scam people out of their money and only by contacting the media is that becoming evident. This unfortunate situation would never have been resolved if this father hadn't gone to the media. If Apple were serious about fixing the situation they would put a lifetime maximum on the amount developers could charge for in-app purchases over the lifetime of a particular app. Users should demand this of Apple and developers. How can you people just sit back and call these people idiots? Do you honestly think having the ability to spend $6100 on a mobile pony game is reasonable? Forget poor parenting and all that jazz, this never should have made it through the appstore approval process in the first place. It's all a scam!
      Completely AGREE, people are stupid to think DEVS don't foresee this situations, it's a marketing thing especially with FREE APPS
    1. RoloDiva13's Avatar
      RoloDiva13 -
      Quote Originally Posted by politicalslug View Post
      I'm amazed you people honestly think it's the parents fault. You people honestly believe every single parent buying an Apple device understands the risk of supposedly free apps hiding the ability to charge their credit cards thousands of dollars? Suddenly everyone is an expert on how to access and use all the settings on their device? None of you have friends and family members that ask you for help using the phone or ipad? Everyone, every single human being buying one of these devices, knows about setting the purchasing controls? Did they explain this to you when you bought the device? I buy all of my iDevices from Apple's retail stores and never did they mention purchase controls. How then are parents to know about this? Parent's aren't to blame. Developers are counting on this kind of trickery to make a quick buck, that's why they have switched to "freemium" models in droves. Wake up people!!!!
      What part of HE GAVE AN EIGHT YEAR OLD HIS IPAD PASSWORD is not computing?? If he knew she had no concept of money then he shouldn't have given her access to spend it (the password). Dad can't have it both ways; either your daughter is smart enough to navigate your iPad and enter passwords on her own - which makes him liable for what's purchased on it - or she's dumb enough not to understand that she's spending real money and therefore has no business playing games on a device that has in-app purchases enabled (go get her @$$ an Etch-a-Sketch).

      And I guess it's Apple's fault that a grown-*** man buys their product and doesn't understand the mechanics of how to use it? Dad's not getting a pass because he's a dimwit that doesn't understand that before handing a child a device that I'm SURE he's made purchases on himself, he might wanna lock down the IAPs capability.

      If I were Apple I would have told this fool to sod off...as well as the rest of these "parents" who have no idea that part of the job involves su-per-vis-ion
    1. *T*'s Avatar
      *T* -
      Quote Originally Posted by PokemonDesigner View Post
      Why do people let children use a several hundred dollar device to begin with. In my honest opinion I don't think anyone under the age of 16 should have a smart phone, under 14 for laptops and tablets, and under 10 for music devices like iPod touches. That's just my opinion and that is how the devices were originally made and should be used.
      6th grade is when phones became popular in my school. I had an iPod touch at that time but no phone until late 7th grade, and I believe that because of this I missed out on some friendship opportunities.
      Our perception of kids is that they are inferior because they are smaller, or don't know as much as we do. However, the vast, vast majority of kids with iDevices do not rack up massive bills. Many kids with iDevices have no restrictions, yet still understand money and the responsibility that comes with the ability to spend it. Every once in a while an idiot comes along, but that doesn't mean we should punish the rest. There will always be idiots. I believe a 6th grader is responsible enough to carry an iphone.