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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Tech News > Apple refunds epic in-app purchase bill to unaware parents

Apple refunds epic in-app purchase bill to unaware parents
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Feb 28, 2013, 07:36 PM
 
UK Parents Greg and Sharon Kitchen will be getting a "full refund" following an initial refusal by Apple over an incident where their five-year-old son Danny "unintentionally" purchased over $2,500 in in-app game purchases from free iPad game Zombies versus Ninja. The couple claim that the boy purchased 19 high-priced consumable packs for the game, which cost £70 ($106) each -- along with a few smaller purchases -- all within the 15 minute window after the father had keyed in his password authorizing the original download of the game.

According to Sharon Kitchen, "On Sunday afternoon Danny asked my husband for the passcode. We had lots of visitors in the house and were both a little preoccupied. I recall my husband saying 'No - what is it for?' and Danny said 'It's OK, it's a free one, dad'. So my husband keyed in the passcode." The following day, the iTunes invoices started arriving in the couple's email. The invoices were initially ignored as a mistake, as the bank account associated with the account showed no activity. The family was clued in to the event when the bank called "asking if 19 transactions of £69.99 each were normal." Two days later, the total spent by the child finalized at £1,700 ($2,580). Although Apple has a number of pre-existing safeguards in place to prevent such accidental purchases -- including parental controls, dialogs confirming the purchase and how much will be spent, and having closed the no-password-required window nearly two years ago -- it called the boy's spending spree "clearly unintentional" and agreed to refund the money. Mrs. Kitchen added that "When I realized I called my husband and asked him to sort this out. It was far too easy a thing for [Danny] to do and more should be done to limit stuff like this from happening." Apple closed the "password window" that allowed users to continue purchasing items for up to 15 minutes after keying in their password with the release of iOS 4.3 in early March of 2011. Presumably, the family never upgraded their iOS version from the one it shipped with, nor were they apparently aware of the possibility of in-app game purchases -- though this explanation strains credulity, as the couple have four other, older children. Apple originally did not issue a refund, citing a bevy of actions the parents failed to take or outright circumvented to prevent the purchases from happening. The Apple response noted Parental Controls' ability to restrict access to content and age-rated content, the option to completely disable in-app purchases, and a recommendation to not share the account password inappropriately, which was the case in this incident. The game is actually rated 9+, and not recommended for children under that age.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Feb 28, 2013 at 09:16 PM. )
     
cgc
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Feb 28, 2013, 08:35 PM
 
I think some of the blame still belongs to the parents but this company's add-ons seem shady. $106 for an add-on for a game and there's dozens of add-ons? I think the company that made that game needs to be investigated.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
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Feb 28, 2013, 10:37 PM
 
On the game, there are MANY major, mainstream games with in-game currency packs that offer "jumbo" options costing up around $100, in addition to a bunch of smaller ones ranging in price down to a few dollars. One can argue about the fundamental legitimacy of freemium games, but such things are hardly uncommon, or particularly shady--even Infinity Blade II, a polished, $7 game (and a great one), offers $50 in-game currency packs if you're too lazy to play to earn money.

My assumption would be that the kid bought a bunch of the super-expensive "jumbo money" packs, plus a few of the cheaper ones. Could happen in any game that offers such things, even 100% legitimate ones.

Though honestly, the headline should be slightly modified to "Apple refunds epic in-app purchase bill to SLOPPY parents"--much more accurate description of their behavior than "unaware."
     
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Mar 1, 2013, 09:17 AM
 
If Apple would take the password option out of the restrictions section, and make the default "immediately" instead of "15 minutes", a lot of this crap wouldn't be happening.

There are so many children's games in the App Store that are clearly scams to bait children into blowing money (e.g. I'm talking about you, Gameloft, a.k.a Gameslop... My Little Pony?!?) that this doesn't surprise me one bit.
     
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Mar 1, 2013, 10:03 AM
 
"If Apple..."

Yeah, let's blame Apple for not being a perfect babysitter. Geezus. People need to take some responsibility for themselves and their offspring.
     
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Mar 1, 2013, 10:57 AM
 
Grendelmon, I thought with iOS 4.3 they did remove the 15 minute windows for in-app purchases and made it mandatory to enter a password immediately for those.
     
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Mar 1, 2013, 12:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by NapMan View Post
Grendelmon, I thought with iOS 4.3 they did remove the 15 minute windows for in-app purchases and made it mandatory to enter a password immediately for those.

Re-Enable Password Check in iOS 6 To Avoid Nasty In-App Purchase Surprises [iOS Tips] | Cult of Mac
     
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Mar 1, 2013, 02:13 PM
 
From the article, the parents never upgraded. This was a good move on Apple's part. You should be able to return or cancel purchases. What other things once bought cannot be returned for "buyer regret"?
     
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Mar 1, 2013, 02:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
From the article, the parents never upgraded.
That's not what "presumably" means. The author does not know if they did or did not upgrade from iOS 4.3.
     
cgc
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Mar 1, 2013, 02:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Makosuke View Post
On the game, there are MANY major, mainstream games with in-game currency packs that offer "jumbo" options costing up around $100, in addition to a bunch of smaller ones ranging in price down to a few dollars. One can argue about the fundamental legitimacy of freemium games, but such things are hardly uncommon, or particularly shady--even Infinity Blade II, a polished, $7 game (and a great one), offers $50 in-game currency packs if you're too lazy to play to earn money.

My assumption would be that the kid bought a bunch of the super-expensive "jumbo money" packs, plus a few of the cheaper ones. Could happen in any game that offers such things, even 100% legitimate ones.

Though honestly, the headline should be slightly modified to "Apple refunds epic in-app purchase bill to SLOPPY parents"--much more accurate description of their behavior than "unaware."
I didn't know there were such expensive in-game add-ons. I still think the parents should take some of the blame or at least they shouldn't be portrayed as so innocent.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
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Mar 1, 2013, 03:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
I didn't know there were such expensive in-game add-ons. I still think the parents should take some of the blame or at least they shouldn't be portrayed as so innocent.
Gameloft is a clear example of predatory IAPs towards children. In their My Little Pony game, they have items that cost $99. For those who are bored on a Friday afternoon, read this crap on their "support" forum regarding how ridiculous their pricing is:

MLP:FiM is a rip off

http://forum.gameloft.com/index.php/topic,78927.0.html

Basically, to "complete" the game, you are actually required to spend money on IAPs. Minimum total purchase price: over $200. And this is for a children's game. A toy from Hasbro.
( Last edited by Grendelmon; Mar 4, 2013 at 10:49 AM. )
     
cgc
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Mar 1, 2013, 06:40 PM
 
Wow...that should be really difficult to accidentally do.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
   
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