5-year old’s $2,550 in-app error refunded by Apple


I’m all for letting kids use my iDevices. In fact, I encourage it. There’s a wealth of great educational content for all ages on the App Store, as well as child-friendly games and books. It’s fantastic. Sadly, there is a downside: in-app purchasing. In essence, it’s a good idea. In the past it was a way to give consumers a taster of an app, before upgrading to get all the features of a full program or “premium” version.

Sadly, in the past 12 months, game developers have used this option to introduce a new kind of game. These “freemium” games are initially free to download, but offer a variety of in-app purchases to buy gems/powerups/levels, to enhance the experience or allowing you to develop further within the game. I say sadly, because I genuinely think it’s ruining the App Store and leaving many parents in a sticky situation.

The most recent is the case of Danny Kitchen, a 5 year-old boy from Bristol, UK. His father logged in to iTunes on the iPad to download a free game. Thinking it wouldn’t cost him anything. Ten minutes later, Danny had somehow racked up £1,700 in in-app purchases ($2,550). Once his family found out, they were obviously upset. His siblings “ were telling him off, but of course he didn’t know what he did – he’s only five.

Thankfully Apple has now refunded the boy’s charges. I can’t ever imagine having one of my children doing this, I think I’d cry. A lot.

Is this just further evidence that Apple needs to change in-app purchasing? Perhaps restricting developers from adding options worth more than a low figure like $20? Give us your thoughts in the comments section or tweet @TiP_Cam.

Via: BBC

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  • nenes78

    My son (9) recently did this. Same way also My wife entered the code to download a free game for our son on his ipad mini. I am at work when I get an email from my bank placing my account in fraud status due to irregular purchases. i log in and $230 dollars has been charged by the app store with hundreds of 99cent purchases. I call my wife and ask who is buying things from the app store. My wife asks my son if he has bought anything (i was not there, but my wife said the look was priceless) he looks at my wife puts down the ipad and puts his head in his arms. My wife tells him he has charged over $200 to my bank card. He asked does Daddy know, she said yes, the bank notified him and he called. He said Daddy is going to kill me. She re assured him no. I called apple and had the purchases refunded as well as explained how to turn off in app purchases with a restriction. Now I tease him, anytime he is with his ipad I ask “you’re not buying items are you” and he giggles.

  • RaduTanasescu

    I never made inapp purchases and if I had kids I wouldn’t give them the password :) I would buy them inapt items as a reward or something myself.

  • AbdullahMostafa

    They should just simply make that pop up notification say “Please enter your password to make this $# purchase.” with the password input box below it. And once you hit Okay it will say “Are you sure? You will get billed $# for buying [In app purchase name] for #$ amount.”
    Honestly I don’t see what they can loose doing this and how this method will eve have a downside… Although when you think about it, there are so many of those crappy appstore games where you won’t enjoy it unless you buy the virtual currency. It’s almost as if some of these games are made because they probably get more money off them from people who end up paying for the virtual currency and not knowing it than from the people who actually buy the virtual currency.
    Anyone agree?

  • Reza Malcolm

    Happened to me also about a month ago, but only $8. In the new IOS we do not need to fill the password again if already installed an app. So if someone buy an inapps we only just click.
    Now, I use the restrictions in the settings, click the inapps so that no inapps can be bought.
    *sorry for my English.

  • Reza Malcolm

    @RaduTanasescu in the new ios 6 we dont need password anymore to buy an inapps, it is just like when you update an apps. Not like the ios 5 when you need password for anything (update / buying etc)