money570 -

A five year old boy racked up a bill of £1,700 after making 19 £69.99 in-app purchases whilst playing iOS title Zombies Vs Ninjas, reports news agency SWNS.

The culprit, five-year-old Danny Kitchen, made the purchases after his father Greg gave him his all access passcode to the iPad. In just 10 minutes Danny had made the 19 purchases – each granting 90,000 in-game darts or 333 in-game bombs.

The parents were caught out by the free-to-play nature of the game, unaware that potentially costly in-game items were available to purchase.

Although the family appeared to have been initially refused a refund by Apple, since the story made the press a full refund has been issued.

A statement from Apple to Danny Danny Kitchen said: "An in-app purchase contains content or services from within an application that you have already purchased.

"Those are paid enhancements available in-game. Things like weapons, items, extra lives and other enhancements are types of in-game purchase which often fall into this category and in some cases are unintentionally purchased.

"In this case, as the purchases were clearly unintentional, we are pleased to be able to offer you a full refund."

Via Eurogamer

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CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ AndySpence

15 minutes. That is how long your password stays active for on an iOS device on the default setting. A setting that Apple don't tell you about. Go look, see if you can find that information in your box. I'll save you the time; it isn't there. You can set the device to require the password for any action, but it is something you have to look into. There is no manual in the box telling you this, so you need to play with settings.

Apple just need to change the default to "Ask for my password for everything", and let people opt out of this. This removes them from criticism, and would also have stopped all of these stories from happening at all.

The way things stand, though, means that developers of free-to-pay apps littered with IAP need to think about what they show people in these first 15 minutes. They are fully aware of the defaults, and are actively playing to them. Because, a child who has just completed a tutorial who is then told they need to buy something, and is given the option to buy 20,000 of them for the maximum possible £69.99, can probably do so without being asked for the password. This is not Apple's fault, as such, but is something that they encourage.

Yes, parents do also need to learn what their devices do. But when such information is hidden from them, and when unscrupulous developers are keen to take advantage, then the blame needs to be apportioned much more evenly than it is being.
Posted 13:19 on 01 March 2013
AndySpence's Avatar

AndySpence

Isn't there an option to turn IAPs off on IOS? Maybe it's worth thinking about if you've got kids. Although I appreciate that not everybody would know about this feature..
Posted 12:58 on 01 March 2013
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Interesting to work out who is ultimately responsible in these situations. Apple dont make these apps, but they host them on the App Store. Shouldn't it be down to the app publisher or developer to ensure that the In App Purchases are secure enough not to let this happen? If so, Apple's gesture of a refund is more generous, but it doesn't hit the developer who made that app in the first place, so they may continue to make more apps like this.
Posted 00:26 on 01 March 2013
DancingRhino's Avatar

DancingRhino

Ye I think it's a bit harsh what mintyrebel says. The other stories have been about twelve year olds not knowing what they are doing, ye right.

Five year olds really wouldn't know imo. And there are probably laws against selling anything to anyone under false pretentions so I reckon the refund is fair. Even though it wouldn't have happened without press coverage.
Posted 22:34 on 28 February 2013
Endless's Avatar

Endless

4-5 is technically a pre-schooler but thats by the by. Both mine and my wife's phones have passwords for buying things. But I know William plays on my Steam account and there is no option for that as I recall. Not that I've looked.

It does seem an increasingly common occurrence though.
Posted 22:29 on 28 February 2013
s_h_a_d_o's Avatar

s_h_a_d_o

N-appies!
Posted 22:05 on 28 February 2013
Mintyrebel's Avatar

Mintyrebel

The parents are stupid and should have lost their money. They should have taken better care of their kid.
Posted 19:22 on 28 February 2013
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Toddlers.

Actually, past that as well.
Posted 19:02 on 28 February 2013
DancingRhino's Avatar

DancingRhino

Are five year olds still infants?
Posted 19:00 on 28 February 2013
MJTH's Avatar

MJTH

When I first read the headline, I thought it said an infant had managed to rack up a £1700 Billion fee in in app purchases. Unsuprising, I did a double take on that headline. 0_o
Posted 17:58 on 28 February 2013
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Apple have already tried to make it impossible to buy IAPs unless you input the password first, so either the app fails this (which Apple should have picked up on) or the parents had just put in their password to buy something themselves and then given it straight to the kid.
Posted 17:24 on 28 February 2013
tvr77's Avatar

tvr77

Oops.

At least Apple coughed up in the end.
Posted 17:19 on 28 February 2013