‘Boy racks up a £1000 iPad bill’

“I appreciate children are their target audience but it is not right and there needs to be specific controls in place to stop this from happening.”

There are, dipshit. Check your settings.

  • Or simply don’t give your 8-year-old your Apple ID password. Idiot.

    • Yep! Exactly!

    • Steven Fisher

      If I remember correctly, the amount of time before iOS asks for the password again is customizable (at least between two levels).

      Back before the modern iOS added that option, I used to restart the iPad my son uses every time I added something to it.

      • DanPierce

        Back in iOS 4.3, Apple changed it so that in app purchases required the password regardless of when you typed in the password to buy an app.

        • Steven Fisher

          Yes, but isn’t there an option somewhere to change it back? Or has the option been removed, or did I just imagine this?

          At any rate, it’s sane by default now. 🙂

        • gjgustav

          I thought so too, but I watched it happen this past Christmas. Apple gave us our money back for the purchase. We then turned off in-app purchases in parental controls.

        • Steven Fisher

          iOS 5.1.1 (at least) has the option to require the password next 15 minutes later or immediately after.

    • lucascott

      Who says they did. Mom or dad could have entered the password for him. That said the game is rated 12+ and ‘top in app purchases’ in the info is a huge clue. If they bothered to look but I bet they didn’t. Rarely so these parents, anymore than they look for a way to stop purchases

  • rattyuk

    Yet more Apple FUD I see. You’re right, Peter, there is stuff in place that does this but that won’t stop the headlines of course.

    • Yep the user’s fault. Really. FYI, that was indeed sarcasm. I wish there was an anti-smiley, not just a sad face, but a huge steaming turd of distain and aloofness (OK, slightly over the top here 😉

      Still, you deserve some of that. If there’s something I hate more than MS IT attitude, it’s that same attitude with fellow Apple users. We just don’t do that! We don’t.

      • Steven Fisher

        Your description of the anti-smiley made me laugh.

  • Protip: giving your kid your credit card is probably not a good idea.

  • The press are totally wrong, but there is definitely a problem with technology in general – everything has a setting, and before you know it you can’t remember or figure out where to do anything.

    For me, I mostly experience this with corporate IT – where the answer is usually something like “just do …” or “it’s right there…” which makes perfect sense if you know where it is beforehand.

    With Apple, I think I’m confused with iTunes. If I buy music on my device, it doesn’t seem like it’s in the “same place” as music I rip from a CD. You can see this inconsistency too with photos & photostream. My photos are automatically downloaded via photostream to my laptop… but they’re not synced to my laptop. It’s exhausting.

    Of course, I think Apple is way better at this than most. And, I’m not even sure what Samsung users are doing with their phones without an “iCloud” level of consistency. iCloud’s not perfect, but I get a woody thinking about how awesome it will be when my newborn gets his iPhone15.

    • Steven Fisher

      Man, I was totally going to vote your comment up before you mentioned your woody. Now it’s just too creepy. 🙂

      • Sorry. I of course only meant it to be funny. And, I’m sure you’re only partly kidding, so no offense taken/received all that!

        • Steven Fisher

          99% kidding, friend. 🙂

  • rj

    Seems a lot like the roaming charges that people periodically get hit with by their wireless carriers: a combination of bad design, customer ignorance, and a lack of a reasonable limit on the amount of money one can spend digitally. There’s no good reason to allow a single user to spend thousands of dollars inside a kid’s game, just like there’s no good reason to allow someone to rack up $10000 in roaming data charges. If its happening, its almost certainly a mistake. Good design saves users from mistakes.

  • SV650

    It wold be nice if it was a little clearer as to how to set up an apple ID using the iTunes cards, rather than a credit card. The process when I set up our iPad was rather convoluted.

  • Steven Fisher

    As much as it’s true that iOS has this option, I wonder if Apple can do a better job of putting this option in front of parents’ eyes.

    There is clearly an opportunity here for Apple to do even better.

    • Speaking from experience, probably not.

      No matter how obvious you make it, parents won’t find it, won’t use it, and will complain it’s not there.

      Microsoft at one point made parental controls a mandatory part of Xbox 360 setup and parents still complained they couldn’t control what their kids were playing or watching.

      • Steven Fisher

        You’re probably right. I imagine a lot of parents give their kid the unopened box.

        But for the parents between that and the ones who comb through every setting, there could be something in the first run setup. 🙂

    • lucascott

      What they ought to do is turn off buying, IAP etc by default and make you prove you are an adult before you can do any of it. Then folks will stop griping. Actually no they won’t cause they will just gripe about how they see grownups and shouldn’t be treated like babies

      • SV650

        Isn’t that what setting up an Apple ID does? Creating an ID supposedly confirms you are an adult, as it requests a credit card for continuing purchases, or a convoluted process to bypass that requirement.

        The simple step of logging out of iTunes, or, if necessary for games which require an ID, creating an Apple ID for the child with no credit card attached to it would also solve this problem. Though not quite the same as separate identities, it is close, and protects your credit card.

  • adrianoconnor

    Why isn’t the sane setting the default? Not everybody is an Apple ultra-geek like the people here, who clearly are. These are just regular people whop unwrap the device and start using it. They don’t spend hours exploring settings. This /is/ a failure of design.

    • studuncan

      Most ‘regular’ people would also limit themselves to not spending $1000.

      You’re advocating parental controls be turned on by default, which means that by default you wouldn’t be able to purchase anything. Which would make it much less useful.

      Ignorance is your own fault.

    • Steven Fisher

      The sane setting is the default: Most people are responsible. What you want is the option to be more obvious.

    • I would agree that ignorance is not an excuse. But I also agree that non-technical people would not explore all of the detailed settings and find the “restrictions” settings buried in “Settings App > General > Restrictions”. It should be named “Parental Controls” like on OS X and it should live on the main Settings screen, maybe right beneath the “Privacy” list item.

  • The refund should have been provided as a redemption code hidden in the “restrictions” section of the user manual. At least that might force the parents to read.

    In all honesty, they might want to consider labeling the section “Parental Controls” like the do in OS X and have that section bubbled up to the main “Settings Screen” and not in “Settings>General>Restrictions”. At that point Apple will have done all that it can do for people to intentionally ignore that it exists.

  • It isn’t that easy. Turning on restrictions then toggling them all off again for the parent to use them is a chore.

    Apple needs to learn from this and address it.

    • Steven Fisher

      I totally agree with you, John. The option is not easy to reach, and toggling it off to do work… and then remembering to turn it back on… is an awful experience.

      It’s better than it was, but it should be better still.

      • Yep. I had to be informed it even existed. I had no idea until a friend told me and was impressed with the level of detail but when I needed to use the iPad for app dev I had to hit the toggles then do it again later.

        This is one area I hope iOS follows Android and provides user accounts.

        • Steven Fisher

          Oh, I definitely don’t want user accounts. I just want escalation instead of outright denial when something’s blocked by parental controls.

          • Meaning a prompt to allow you to override? Something like the infamous Administrator window from Vista? 🙂

          • Steven Fisher

            Yeah, if parental controls are on — especially with regards to purchases — I should be able to override them on a case-by-case basis.

            The escalation dialog is not a bad idea, it just needs to be done rationally. (Changing desktop images, for instance? Silly.)

            For all I know, they’ve already got this in iOS 6. The aforementioned iPad is first generation.

          • Gotcha. I’m not opposed to that but to call every report like this stupid/dumb/{expletive} is a bit far. Apple has a responsibility here, IMHO.

          • Steven Fisher

            Well, I think they are being stupid/dumb/etc. Handing an iPad to a kid, then offering your credit card numbers when asked, without investigating what it could be used for? You deserve what you get.

            But that doesn’t mean Apple can’t (and shouldn’t) do something better.

          • Eh, it isn’t that easy. You sign up with your iPad knowing you buy apps. When you hand it to your kid you’re not expecting them to have access to buy something without being prompted.

            Honest mistakes do happen. If I can be bit by it ($2.99 in-app by my nephew over Christmas) and I’m “in the know”, a normal user sure can be bit by it.

          • Is that what happened? I don’t think so.

    • lucascott

      More of a chore than calling and griping about the charges and hoping Apple will refund them?

      Are you really that lazy

      • 1 phone call versus multiple times per day having to turn on/off restrictions if you’re sharing the device? I’d say so.

        I also have never requested a refund from the App Store so I’m going to assume you mean “you” in general. The Play Store has a 15 minute window so that’s easily corrected. Did it when I noticed my daughter spent $99 on rubies for her “store” and the charge was reversed with ease.

    • gjgustav

      Yep – Apple needs to add “child mode” where you can have a restriction profile to turn on and off. Maybe in iOS 7.

  • One is reminded of the semi-famous mommy blogger who got irate because she didn’t realize she’d muted her iPhone and missed calls.

    • Steven Fisher

      I don’t recall that. I’d ask for details, but I’d probably go visit her site, which is all most of them want.

      • Exactly. She was apparently made even more irate at the avalanche of ridicule she received over this. Couldn’t be bothered to look up what the physical switches on the phone were meant for. All she wanted to do was raise a stink over this with Apple and probably get something free out of it.

        • That speaks volumes to the discoverability of the features though.

          Granted, common sense would be to try buttons/switches on the device but not all users are common. Maybe she was a Hee Haw user Apple was happy to see go. 😐

          • Discoverability? For a mute switch? Because of the plethora of other, confusing controls on the thing that are overwhelming your little mommy blogger day?

            Please. RTFM. At least look at the first chapter’s callout illustration for five minutes. No excuse.

          • Yes. I don’t know her story and agree it is common sense but no one, including you, read the iPhone manual (assumption but a good one IMO).

            Consider phones before the iPhone where there wasn’t a mute switch. Just because it is there doesn’t mean she should know what it does. Reading the manual would fix that but again…who does that? 🙂

          • I have no idea who does that, and I don’t really care. This woman behaved like an entitlement queen, and put at least one Apple store employee through abuse for it.

            I don’t own any smartphones, but you can bet money that I at least looked at the illustrated callout on my iPod touch when I first got it. Just as I did for every one of my awful feature phones.

            And I will bet money that mommyblogger had just switched from a Blackberry.

            You might characterize me as a nerd, but I’m hardly a mobile power user.

          • I hear you. She shouldn’t have showed her tail like that. Again, don’t know her or the story. (just an observation)

            You don’t own a smartphone? What do you use?

          • You’ll laugh. It’s an old Audiovox flip-phone on Virgin Mobile. Pay-as-you-go. I make and receive very few calls, work from home, and can’t justify a data plan for anything, as much as I’d love to.

          • Wow!!!! A true relic.

            I feel a mixture of sadness and respect for your plight. 😀

          • I accept your pity, but I’m just a guy on a budget.

          • Mad respect though. I am a gadget freak and can’t help myself.

          • Thanks, but [shrug]. Raised by Eastern-European Jews. Accustomed to self-denial, I guess.

          • “who does that?” someone who is struggling to work out how to mute their new phone ? 😉

          • 🙂

  • Oh, this is grand. I’m using Apple stuff since ’83 because I LOVE HEARING IT’S THE USER’S FAULT. Really? Are you all going to blame the parents? Get over yourselves, or go buy MS shit and be as retro as you like. I’m warning you though, before you know it, your armpits are leaking and you’re shouting “Developers Developers Developers”.