Teenager racks up £3,700 iPad app bill; father blames Apple

‘In theory the local police station would contact me and ask for Cameron to come in to be interviewed.

‘I could make it difficult of course and refuse to bring him in and they would have to come and arrest him.

‘Really I just want to embarrass Apple as much as possible. Morally, I just don’t understand where Apple gets off charging for a child’s game.’

So the father reported the kid to the cops. This isn’t Apple’s problem, it’s the father’s problem. Deal with it and stop blaming other people.

  • Morally, I just don’t understand where this guy was allowed to breed.

    • Steven Fisher

      I imagine it involved an abuse of power somehow.

  • Steven Fisher

    You missed (possibly) the best part: The father is a cop.

    This is the best judgement of someone charged with protecting society from itself.

    • def4

      No, that actually is the part that explains it all.

      A decent human being wouldn’t try something like that, but for a cop the patronising holier than thou attitude should be no surprise to anyone.

      • Steven Fisher

        Be fair: I didn’t say surprising. I said best. 🙂

  • Herding_sheep

    A parent taking responsibility for their own incompetence watching their children? Psh, what do you think we live in? An honorable society? Its always someone elses fault.

  • It is all about discoverability. If you don’t know where to look or it exists, you won’t change the settings.

    I think he’s gone a bit far but it seems he only did it because his credit card company required it. This is definitely becoming a trend.

    • Steven Fisher

      Nobody ever got their credit card charged without typing it in at least once, however. (By Apple, at least.)

      Either the guy set up the account himself, or he gave the kid his card to set it up. Either way, the fraud accusation should fall flat.

      • The “fraud” isn’t about his card mysteriously being charged just that he was overly charged by a game not explicitly requiring a password (without you digging into an app and going two menus down to find it).

        Edit: Don’t think I’m condoning his actions. I’m just stating discoverability is important.

        • lucascott

          Actually since you weren’t there watching over the kids shoulder anymore than apparently Dad wasn’t you don’t know that he wasn’t asked for a password at any time. He made 300 separate purchases in half a dozen games. It’s likely he was asked for the password at least one if not a few times.

        • Steven Fisher

          Well, except it would have required a password. The option is to require passwords after 15 minutes or immediately; I don’t see how the kid could have burned through £3,700 in 15 minutes.

          And I know you’re not condoning the actions, and I even believe that the option should be made more discoverable. But I really don’t think that would have helped in this case — either the kid had the credit card and set up the account, or he had the password to it.

          • I guess it depends on how much each in-app purchase costs. My daughter hit me up for $99 once. Had Google not emailed me immediately I wouldn’t have known for days.

            This Christmas my nephew hit me up for $2.99 because my wife typed my password, he returned to the app store < 15 minutes after and bought another app. I immediately changed the setting to “require password immediately”. I had no other issues. 🙂

            Agreed on discoverable not meaning it would have prevented it. Something is amiss here for sure.

    • kibbles

      this is becoming a trend? by what data do you back this up? how many kids-being-charged-unexpectedly are there, compared to normal transactions?

      surely not using a couple headlines to establish the trend, right?

      • My data comes from reading a related “in-app charge drama story” here on the loop/elsewhere multiple times a week.

        The trend isn’t in data just in what I’m reading. Are you not seeing more and more people publicly out these sort of problems? Apple was sued and changed the App Store in response.

        This definitely isn’t a one-off issue.

        • What you’re seeing is more news outlets reporting this. That doesn’t necessarily mean that an increasing number of people are doing it–just that those outlets have discovered that when it’s reported, people click through. It could be that the number (or percentage) of people who have this kind of problem is fairly steady and low, but that more incidents are getting reported because reporters troll (in the old sense of the word) forums looking for “victims.”

          To me, the idea that a 13-year-old didn’t know that in-app purchases cost anything means either the kid’s an illiterate or the dad’s a liar. It’s like that Mr. Show joke, where the guy sues to get a warning label on all currency that says “If you spend this dollar it will be gone–and you don’t get it back.”

          • “It could be that the number (or percentage) of people who have this kind of problem is fairly steady and low, but that more incidents are getting reported because reporters troll (in the old sense of the word) forums looking for “victims.””

            100% agree. Well said.

            Agreed on the 13 year old not recognizing real $ being spent. I wouldn’t go to illiterate or a liar on either part but something is amiss.

  • rattyuk

    We’re getting a slow drip drip drip of these kinds of stories. Would love to know who’s behind them. It’s not like freemium content is an exclusive Apple thing, where are the Android stories about this kind of thing happening?

    • (insert Android users are cheap comment)


        • Steven Fisher

          Nice post. Interesting to see some people there wanting iOS-like controls, and others denying the iOS controls exist.

          Maybe that’s just many years of comments, but I wonder if even those who have “looked into it” remain that confused about what’s already available.

          • Thanks. Yeah, it was interesting how many people just randomly found that post.

            I think people just don’t know they exist. I didn’t until this year.

          • Someone at our office used to have a pin button “If the user can’t find the feature it’s not there.”

            Always true.

          • Yep. From a UX perspective, that’s exactly it. My wife new nothing about double click home, four finger swipe to switch apps (still doesn’t), the sound/brightness options to the left of the app switcher, etc on her iPad and she used it regularly.

            Discoverability is critical.

    • The issues is that Apple says “sorry, heres some cash”.

      My guess is that some of the original stories were actual issues. At this point the precedent has been set that “Person claims kid did thousands of dollars of purchases + news story = free money from Apple and my family still gets to keep all of the purchases”.

      • lucascott

        That’s what’s really amusing about these stories. Most of the cases are parents that admittedly weren’t paying attention to their kids. That didn’t check the age appropriateness of the app they were downloading etc. I remember one story where the parent gave the password to her older children naively expecting them to not share it with their 3 year old brother.

        And yet all of this is Apple’s fault.

    • lucascott

      Android doesn’t get the hits that Apple does. So it doesn’t matter if it’s happening 10 times as much, the sites etc don’t bother talking about it

      At this point I won’t be shocked if Apple does turn on the restriction against IAP by default. Even to the point of setting up a filter term and blocking any app with IAP game or otherwise by default.

      Perhaps even at the ID level. If you are a grownup you’ll have to prove that to Apple and with some very clear agreement that you understand that all sales are final and if you give a kid access to your account or your devices without appropriate measures GTFO if they do something nasty. Set up the store so you can’t see anything but podcasts and iTunes U without logging into your account so you can be properly filtered based on whether you have signed the appropriate forms

    • tyr

      It’s just the press being the press. 10 years ago this would’ve been roughly the same story but with “party lines” or “sexlines” instead of online purchases.

  • ‘Really I just want to embarrass Apple as much as possible. Morally, I just don’t understand where Apple gets off charging for a child’s game.’

    Does Disney charge you to see a kids movie? do you buy your kid childrens books? do you buy your kid gaming consoles? do you buy your kid “children’s” sporting equipment?

    Why would Apple not be allowed to charge for a “children’s game” let alone the fact that some other party is charging for the game. Apple just operates the store that the game is being sold in.

    • lucascott

      Correct. Apple is just the store. They didn’t set the charges, they didn’t set up the buttons etc. Would it be nice if they set a rule that no app can have IAP or even ads if it’s rated safe for say under 13, sure. It would be nice. But there’s no legal requirement for it. And it would just likely result in the developers charging crazy amounts off the top for apps that could be garbage.

      Apple has this really nasty habit of assuming that folks aren’t up to no good. They assume, wrongly it seems, that developers aren’t just out to dupe people. That customers aren’t looking for ways to pretend to pay for stuff but steal it. Parents take responsibility for their kids and their kids use of tech. And so on. Maybe the solution to this is for Apple to change tactics and assume that everyone is stupid, lazy and deceitful and set their policies, programs and software to that end.

      • Steven Fisher

        I’d prefer to see a separate option for IAP consumables, defaulting to off.

        Or, better yet: Let’s go back to free being free. It turns out that customers were better off that way.

      • As I have mentioned in other stories like this, Apple does need to bubble up the “Restrictions” settings to the top level Settings Screen, rebrand it to be “Parental Controls” and build out some additional control options.

        Though I think most of this “Absent Parent error”, it should be a signal to Apple that this is easy area for improvement in the iOS.

  • Brandon

    This guy could seriously learn a lesson from his son about responsibility. At least the 13yo took responsibility for his actions.

    “No son, don’t admit you made a mistake, let’s just blame Apple so I can get my money back.”

  • Key elements also Jim is that child may get a criminal record which could affect his career/life, did Father not get emails every 48 hours with purchase from Apple and Father could be in trouble reporting it as fraud when it his card used by someone he knows – possible legal issue.

    • Only if convicted and even then his records would be sealed, since he is a minor, and can be expunged once he’s an adult.

      Not ideal but not gloom and doom for his life either.

      • Steven Fisher

        Keep in mind this is in the UK.

        The laws may be the same there, but I’m not sure. (Are you? Seriously, I’d love to know.)

        • Ah, great point. No, I’m in the US. I have no international knowledge, seriously.

    • lucascott

      Daddy doesn’t see fit to keep an eye on a card that has debit activated so it’s unlikely he was paying attention to his email either.

  • Kriztyan

    Apple should have the in App purchase turned off my default. The developer could explain how to turn it on if you wanted to spend money that way. But getting a surprise bill is not the way to find out about such setting.

    • lucascott

      Why stop there. How about we turn off explicit lyrics, any materials rated higher than suitable for ages 9 and up. Heaven forbid that some kid play a game that’s not age appropriate because Mommy and Daddy didn’t read before punching in their password to download the game.

      • Kriztyan

        In App purchases can get even the most savvy user. It happened to my family. Apple refunded the money with one phone call. Why would Apple do that? Because it was racked up by a 6 year old using a My Little Pony game. A game that has an item that costs $150.00 dollars! Sure, as parents, you need to keep an eye on your kids, but seriously, you don’t see anything wrong with this? Having a button in a game that when pressed will rack you up a $150.00 bill? I agree with your point to en extent. But having an obscure setting berried down the UI that requires you to look it up so that your kid won’t get swindled is not good business for Apple or for the developer and much less for the user.

        • Yeah, exactly my issue. $150 for an in-app purchase is ridiculous! I think the focus should be on these developers.

          I would NEVER have the unmitigated gall to put an in-app purchase of $150 in one of my apps. That’s asinine.

  • lucascott

    Couldn’t agree more. How did the kid make 300 purchases, presumably over time. It seems either Daddy put his credit card on his son’s account, gave his son the password to his account or didn’t bother to read before punching in his password for his son. None of which is Apple’s fault.

    And to publicly shame his son by reporting to the police for something he’s certain his son didn’t knowingly mean to do. And then to expose his son to further ridicule by going to the press. That’s shameful

  • Stacy_C

    The nerve of Apple. I just found out that grocery stores charge for children’s food too. This is an outrage.

  • When the hell are people going to stop blaming everyone else and start taking just a bit of responsibility.

    The kid was plenty old enough to know damn well what he was doing, so as far as I’m concerned the father is teaching the kid a lesson (even though he’s doing it for the wrong reasons). I hope the kid ends up with a permanent record that haunts him into his adult life.

    I also hope the idiot father has learned that you don’t buy a piece of tech and be surprised when you find yourself f#cked because you didn’t take the time to learn how to use it—especially before giving it your kid to play with.

    • lucascott

      Agreed. Supposedly the iPad was provided by his school for learning apps etc. but Dad didn’t sit down and set any rules about putting games on it, how things work etc. presumably the kid had his own Apple ID as many schools require that so that the kids can download and keep the apps, books etc that the school volume buys. And if this was the case why did Dad put, and leave on, his credit card to that account.

      And then to not bother wondering why he was getting a bill for a credit card he thought was paid off months ago. Dumb dumb dumb

  • lucascott

    Bit more info. Seems that this was all over a period of three months. During which Daddy wasn’t paying attention to his credit card bills or the emailed receipts, which is likely why Apple said no. http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/MAKE-BOY-CRIMINAL/story-18510728-detail/story.html#axzz2OYculfcX