A doctor in North Wales claims he had to sell his family car in order to pay for the in-app purchases his seven-year-old son had racked up during one hour on an iPhone game.
Consultant endocrinologist Muhammad Mutaza from Colwyn Bay in North Wales, says that Apple “tricked” his child by not preventing in-app purchases. His son, 11, played the free version of “Dragons: Rise of Berk” for an hour, and made around 30 in-app purchases.
Mutaza got 29 email receipts before noticing any of them, and by then his total App Store bill was GBP 1,289.70 ($1,792).
“Initially, my thought was that I’d been scammed,” he told the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper. “I never thought it would be possible to spend that much money on a kids’ game.”
“It’s not even limited to one click a day, you could click ‘purchase’ 10,000 times and spend a million pounds on it in half an hour,” he continued.
Mutaza complained to Apple, saying that his son had been “pressured” into making the purchases. Apple refunded him GBP 207 ($290) — and now Mutaza says that he is now considering legal action.
“I’ve been an Apple customer since 2005,” he told the Daily Mail, “[and] I just said to the customer services man on the phone, ‘well done, you’ve ripped me off, congratulations, you have succeeded in ripping my child off, you’ve tricked him.”
Mutaza says he then told Apple that he will not be “spending another penny on you ever again.”
Apple’s parental control features are turned on by default for children the age of Mutaza’s son. While Mutaza says that his son must have memorized his password, account password security is the responsibility of the device or account owner.
When queried by the publication about the incident, Apple also pointed out that beyond password security, “Ask to Buy” is only one of a number of parental control features that are designed to prevent this situation.
Separately, Ask to Buy and such protections are among the issues Apple has used to defend its App Store curation. Its recent privacy publication says that without such control over the App Store, it would be much more difficult for parents to avoid their children running up such bills.
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