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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Father accidentally allows son to rack up $5,800 bill with iOS game

Father accidentally allows son to rack up $5,800 bill with iOS game
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NewsPoster
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Jan 1, 2016, 10:58 PM
 
A UK father was surprised to discover that his seven-year-old son, Faisall, had managed to spend nearly £4,000 (almost $5,800 US) on in-app upgrades for the game Jurassic World over a five-day period just prior to Christmas. The Crowley resident, 32-year-old Mohamed Shugaa, blamed Apple for the fiasco, despite the fact that his son would have had to have access to the Shugaa's iTunes password, as well as ignoring dialogs that warned that the purchases would cost real money.

"I was so mad. I'm 32 years old, why would Apple think I would be spending thousands of pounds on buying dinosaurs and upgrading a game? Why didn't they email me to check I knew these payments were being made? I got nothing from them. How much longer would it have gone on for?" he commented to a local paper, having apparently ignored receipts that would have been emailed to him every 24 hours after the purchase spree began. At one point, the boy spent more than $2,000 on upgrades in an hour, the report said.



In all, the son made some 65 transactions during the five days, though it is possible that he wouldn't have needed to enter the password more than a few times each day. Users can set an iPad to not require the password for every in-app purchase, but to ask once and then keep the account open for another 15 minutes. Shugaa eventually discovered the charges, he said, when he tried to make some business purchases from a supplier. It was then that the bank -- which also didn't raise any flags with Shugaa over the sudden spending spree using his bank card -- provided him with a list of the transactions.

Shugaa then contacted Apple, but was told initially that he might not get a refund, as he had ignored numerous warnings and settings that would have prevented his son from making the transactions. "Our parents' guide to iTunes details the steps adults can take to make sure younger players have access to the right content. The first thing we recommend is not to share your password," the company has said on previous occasions.

In-app purchasing in Jurassic World game
In-app purchasing in Jurassic World game


There are also options to turn off in-app purchasing outright, parental control settings that block transactions, email receipts provided of all iTunes purchases within 24 hours of purchases being made, not tying an iTunes account used by children to a credit card, requiring a password or Touch ID for each transactions, a web page specifically dealing with kids and in-app purchases linked to the iTunes Store home page, and most recently a new six-digit passcode that small children would be less likely to be able to memorize. Shugaa eventually received a refund on the charges, after telling Apple he needed the money back in order to buy gifts.

He claimed to the local papers that the boy did not understand that obtaining more of the in-game currency, Dino Bucks, would cost the account holder real money, despite dialog boxes to this exact effect with each and every in-app purchase, and the child having an allowance. Developers of kids games with IAPs have received extensive criticism for incorporating expensive in-app purchases -- notably from Kanye West, whose two-year-old daughter North apparently has access to his iTunes password, since he mentioned that she had made numerous (permitted) in-app purchases. West tweeted that apps aimed at very young children should be without IAPs, a growing sentiment among parents and consumer groups.



Shugaa said that he had temporarily banned his son from using the iPad, but expected he will be allowed to use it again at some point, but in the meantime he reset his passwords and followed Apple's guidelines on settings to prevent the problem from happening again. Notably, despite telling Apple he needed the refund to buy Christmas presents, the Daily Mail newspaper quoted him saying that "It didn't ruin Christmas, as I had bought all the presents before the bill came in, so in the end it was alright -- despite a big shock when the bill came in." He added that his son was "very sorry" once told what he had done.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Jan 2, 2016 at 01:03 PM. )
     
eldarkus
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Jan 2, 2016, 12:35 AM
 
I gave my son my credit card at Game Stop and he ended up spending $12,000. So weird.. Hopefully, I'll get a refund and not be responsible for mine or my sons actions!

Step 1) Learn what a device does before handing it over to a child.
Step 2) Teach your kids. They are YOUR kids, which makes them YOUR responsibility.
Step 3) Watch & interact with your kids. If you interact with them and pay attention to what they are doing, you will learn a ton.
     
coffeetime
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Jan 2, 2016, 02:02 AM
 
I give my kid to using iTunes Gift Card with limited amount. If he goes overboard, he gets nothing.
     
SierraDragon
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Jan 2, 2016, 07:55 AM
 
Mohamed Shugaa is an idiot. He gives a 7-year-old child full access to an online credit card account and then blames Apple? The guy must be as dumb as the child - - but the child is only seven so he has an excuse.

I suppose when he gives his 7-year-old his car keys he will blame Ford when the kid kills someone.
     
sibeale1
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Jan 2, 2016, 09:12 AM
 
He's not an idiot at all. He gamed the system, got Apple to give him money, and got publicity.
     
ElectroTech
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Jan 2, 2016, 10:20 AM
 
It doesn't matter what the situation is; if somebody has a bad outcome in any aspect of life, it is Apple's fault, after all, can they possibly blame themselves?
     
Peter Bonte
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Jan 2, 2016, 11:52 AM
 
Mohamed may be not the smartest kid on the block but i had it happen to me also, luckily after the first apple-mail i caught it. It's ludicrous that a single game can rake up thousands of dollars, there should be a hard cap at 60 dollars unlocking it all, for a big part this is Apple's fault for not implementing this.
     
cgc
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Jan 2, 2016, 12:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by sibeale1 View Post
He's not an idiot at all. He gamed the system, got Apple to give him money, and got publicity.
Gaming the system makes him both an idiot and a jerk. Why must everyone blame something/someone else for their lack of parenting/knowledge/skills/attention/etc.?
"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
     
msuper69
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Jan 2, 2016, 12:57 PM
 
Peter Bonte: It's not Apple's job to play nanny. Adults should be able to heed the numerous warnings Apple provides regarding in-app purchases and keeping your Apple credentials secure.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Jan 2, 2016, 01:00 PM
 
Free-to-play games aren't maintained by the people shelling out a few bucks at a time. They're maintained by the "whales" who spend hundreds and thousands of dollars, so the dad's claim about "who spends thousands" is crap, designed to elicit compassion for his plight. The guy's account was tagged as an adult account, and he elected to give the kid his password, thereby bypassing each and every one of Apple's numerous safeguards.

This is 100% on the father, because yes, there are an array of emails for purchases. I agree, he's not stupid, but he straight-out lied to Apple about it to get his refund.

This is 0% on Apple.
     
l2r
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Jan 2, 2016, 06:08 PM
 
IMO, it was Christmas time, and kid kept bugging "Dad, can I please get this , can I please get this feature ??"

Dad "Alright, this is the password. make sure you keep it above 2000 pounds so we can play dumb later"

Then blame Apple. This guy should not get a single penny in refund.
     
James Katt
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Jan 2, 2016, 08:39 PM
 
Mohamed Shugaa Is an idiot for giving his password to his son - allowing his son unlimited purchases on his iPad. He is an idiot for not setting parental controls for his child before letting him use the iPad. Mohamed Shugaa probably hasn't set parental controls on his cable TV letting his son watch porn. Obviously he would not mention this to the press. Parents like him endanger their children.
     
Charles Martin
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Jan 3, 2016, 02:11 AM
 
I'm with Mike on this, but I do have to say that Peter Bonte has a point: games aimed at kids (Jurassic World is rated 4+) should either be no-IAP or have a very strict limit on IAPs. Not because parents can be stupid, but because kids can (sometimes) be quite devious. This latest case (like other cases) needs to come out of the developer's take, not Apple's, and the whole concept of IAPs in kids' games should be looked at. If the developer or Apple can't/won't impose some measures, the government will at some point.
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coffeetime
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Jan 3, 2016, 11:21 AM
 
My kid used to play game similar to this with the in-app purchases that are just insane. You can never get enough because the add-on in-app purchases make you move on to the next level after next after next after next, next, next levels forever next after next levels. Worst than slot machine apps. This is a casino game for kids in disguise.
     
nowayoutofmymind
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Jan 3, 2016, 11:34 AM
 
He needed the money back to buy gifts. What a cool line to get a refund after playing the game with all features unlocked... this dude is really a smashing role model for his kid...
     
hayesk
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Jan 3, 2016, 03:25 PM
 
Is the default for in-app purchases to be denied unless a password is given? If it isn't, then Apple is partially to blame. You can't say "but there are ample warnings" if by default it allows the child to click "Continue" and make the in-app purchase. I'll bet none of you read the entire iTunes agreement each time it is presented. Warnings are useless if there are no actual barriers to make you stop and be forced to consider them.

If in-app purchases are denied by default, then yes, blame rests on the customer.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Jan 3, 2016, 03:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by hayesk View Post
Is the default for in-app purchases to be denied unless a password is given? If it isn't, then Apple is partially to blame.
Yes. Plus, the kid stole dad's password.

You can't say "but there are ample warnings" if by default it allows the child to click "Continue" and make the in-app purchase. I'll bet none of you read the entire iTunes agreement each time it is presented. Warnings are useless if there are no actual barriers to make you stop and be forced to consider them.
Half of the barriers are in place by default, out of the box, so I can specifically say that there are ample warnings, and implemented security features.

If in-app purchases are denied by default, then yes, blame rests on the customer.
They are. So.
     
Grendelmon
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Jan 4, 2016, 11:02 AM
 
The apps are predatory towards children. That fault lays against Apple, period. Why would a child's game offer purchases for $99? Or more? It's a free market, yes. But shouldn't Apple put a cap amount for IAP within titles that are deliberately for children?
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Jan 4, 2016, 11:55 AM
 
And advertising isn't predatory? There are sufficient safeguards baked into devices, and if parents choose to not implement them that is on them. There are also rich parents, where $100 needs the same thought as me dropping $1 for a McDouble for my kid. If you want to take someone to task, take the developers to task, and ourselves as consumers.

This is the modern mobile landscape, and a lot of consumers, we only have ourselves to blame for it. This is what the market picked -- free apps with IAP. So, IAP on mobile (and gaming now too) is how coders have to deal with our choices.
     
Chongo
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Jan 4, 2016, 12:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Mohamed Shugaa is an idiot. He gives a 7-year-old child full access to an online credit card account and then blames Apple? The guy must be as dumb as the child - - but the child is only seven so he has an excuse.

I suppose when he gives his 7-year-old his car keys he will blame Ford when the kid kills someone.
Originally Posted by Peter Bonte View Post
Mohamed may be not the smartest kid on the block but i had it happen to me also, luckily after the first apple-mail i caught it. It's ludicrous that a single game can rake up thousands of dollars, there should be a hard cap at 60 dollars unlocking it all, for a big part this is Apple's fault for not implementing this.
Originally Posted by James Katt View Post
Mohamed Shugaa Is an idiot for giving his password to his son - allowing his son unlimited purchases on his iPad. He is an idiot for not setting parental controls for his child before letting him use the iPad. Mohamed Shugaa probably hasn't set parental controls on his cable TV letting his son watch porn. Obviously he would not mention this to the press. Parents like him endanger their children.
Do you think if this was Winston Smith and his son John, Apple would have refunded the money? Does Apple have a history of making refunds in cases like this?
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Jan 4, 2016, 12:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chongo View Post
Do you think if this was Winston Smith and his son John, Apple would have refunded the money? Does Apple have a history of making refunds in cases like this?
No good way to tell. It's not the first high-dollar one that they've refunded, though.
     
Grendelmon
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Jan 4, 2016, 02:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by Mike Wuerthele View Post
And advertising isn't predatory? There are sufficient safeguards baked into devices, and if parents choose to not implement them that is on them. There are also rich parents, where $100 needs the same thought as me dropping $1 for a McDouble for my kid. If you want to take someone to task, take the developers to task, and ourselves as consumers.
With Apple's level of involvement and micro-management of publishing titles in the app store, I can hardly see any sense with what you just said. When they changed the app store to note if an app offers IAPs, they knew there was a problem.

This has nothing to do with income. The developers are doing this because they are getting away with it. They know that Apple is turning a blind eye to the garbage which preys on children within it's own store. Why wouldn't they? They get 30%!
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Jan 4, 2016, 02:21 PM
 
I notice you left off my salient point from your response. This is 100% about income. This isn't the eighties, developing costs money, and last I checked, food isn't free.

This is the modern mobile landscape, and a lot of consumers, we only have ourselves to blame for it. This is what the market picked -- free apps with IAP. So, IAP on mobile (and gaming now too) is how coders have to deal with our choices.
Again, there are literally four ways to prevent this, all of which Apple has implemented in the iOS. If you're going to say "boohoo Apple enables", then go rail against the developers with the same force of conviction. Go rail against the consumers for making this the driving force behind mobile apps, because while they'll drop hundreds on a smartphone, $20 for an educational app or game without IAP is too much.
     
Grendelmon
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Jan 4, 2016, 03:26 PM
 
When I said income, you thought I meant revenue. I meant "personal income," in response to your "rich parents" comment.
     
Makosuke
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Jan 12, 2016, 09:41 PM
 
The guy is pretty dumb giving a 7-year-old unfettered access to his credit card, but the fact that a single game has absolutely no problem taking literally thousands of dollars from one player for in-game cash illustrates just how completely broken the pay-to-play model is.

The reality is that most of these games bank on PvP "whales"--the handful of players out of thousands of cheapskates who will get into an addict-style competition with each other over some leaderboard and dump thousands of dollars into the game to one-up each other. In the same way a gambling addict can't stop playing until they've lost, these types no doubt feel superior sitting atop the leaderboard despite the main thing putting them there being paying more money than the other top ten. (I remember outcry a few years ago when some online racing game was so skill based that the rich players were angry that they couldn't win just by buying better stuff--the skilled cheapskates would just out-drive them.)

It's not a matter of trying to nickel-and-dime players $5 for a costume or something similarly ludicrous, and it's not even about convincing ten thousand players to pitch in a few bucks a month--many of these games are designed to fleece a tiny number of addicted suckers with too much money (or no sense at all) for thousands of dollars. Everyone else is just along for the ride.

It would be interesting if Apple instituted, say, a lifetime maximum of $100 per game. Some games would have no problem with this, but others would probably close their doors entirely because they're designed around bilking the whales.
     
   
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