iPad Spending Spree: Five-Year-Old Spends $2,500 In 15 Minutes
A five-year-old child in the UK spent the equivalent of $2,500 in less than 15 minutes by making in-app purchases in a free iPad game.
Danny Kitchen of Bristol asked to use his parents' iPad so he could play the game "Zombie v Ninja," which is available on the Apple store. After downloading the app, however, the boy wandered into the game's online store and wound up ordering numerous add-ons, resulting in a total bill of £1,710.43.
The next day Danny Kitchen's parents received a series of emails itemizing the purchases. They included the add-on "333 keys," which sells for $105. At first Danny's parents believed that the emails were sent in error but realized this was not the case after receiving a call from their credit card company.
The Kitchens were obviously surprised and noted that Danny was upset about the situation.
"He was very upset when he realized what he had done," says the boy's mother. "His brothers and sisters were telling him off, but of course he didn't know what he did — he's only five."
The Kitchens are lucky in that Apple has decided to refund the Kitchens' money. But this hasn't been the case for all families and Apple's in-app purchasing system is making it easier for these types of purchases to be made.
A court filing provided to Reuters shows that Apple recently agreed to "settle a class action lawsuit that said customers were charged when their children inadvertently downloaded certain applications from the company's online store."
Apple may wind up paying about $100 million in $5 iTunes store credits as a result of the lawsuit.
If you're concerned about this happening to you, enabling your device's password protection feature could be a good idea. There are also options available for shutting off in-app purchases entirely.
"We are hearing stories like this all the time," says Apps magazine writer Martyn Landi. "so credit to Apple for paying the money back. But it is a risky strategy for parents to simply think they can claim the money back if all goes wrong. A few seconds spent checking these things can save a lot of money and stress in the long run."