British Boy Spends $2,500 in Just a Few Minutes, and Apple Offers Refund

A five-year-old Bristol (UK) boy has spent more than £1,700 (roughly $2,555) in less than 15 minutes by playing a free game on his parents’ iPad. Apple has informed the family they will refund the money.

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Danny Kitchen asked his parents for the passcode to download Zombies vs. Ninja, a free app. After checking that the game was indeed free, they granted access and left their son in the company of the iPad while they entertained friends at their home near Bristol.

But the minutes the boy spent with the iPad turned out to be very costly: Danny instantly downloaded dozens of costly add-ons (in-app purchase), with the final bill totaling £1,710.43.

Danny’s mother knew nothing about her son’s spending spree until Monday morning when she checked her email and saw a batch of emails from iTunes listing what he had bought.

When her credit card company called her to query the payments, the mother of the five-year-old boy realized what had really happened. Mrs. Kitchen said, “He was very upset when he realized what he had done. His brothers and sisters were telling him off, but of course he didn’t know what he did [sic]; he is only five.”

Apple is aware that such incidents can happen, and told the family they would refund the money. An Apple spokesman said these kinds incidents must be reported as quickly as possible. He also highlighted that” all iOS devices have built-in parental controls that give parents and guardians the ability to restrict access to content, the option to turn off functionality such as purchasing from iTunes and the ability to turn off in-app purchases”.

Technology enthusiast, rocker, biker and writer of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter or contact me via email: istvan@iphoneincanada.ca

  • Nick

    My kids have an iPad mini they share. I was quick to enable the parental restrictions on it. I turned off in app purchases and set the time required before entering my password to instantly, so even if I buy something and hand it to my kids, they can’t download/buy anything else without entering my password, something they don’t have.

    If I WERE to let them download stuff, I would create their own iTunes account and NOT put a credit card on it, it would be funded solely through App Store gift cards.

    But anyone can make a mistake, or forget to tell their kids why not to buy stuff in app, or accidentally leave one switch on, causing these kinds of mistakes TO happen.

    However it equally highlights a disgusting flaw in how these games are designed. It should be completely impossible to have a game available today that could be augmented by spending that damn much money.

    While plants vs Zombies has options for IAP, they are single time purchases that are no longer available to purchase again. That is the way this crap should be done, not these unending terrible IAP models that never stop.

    It’s too easy to spend that much money so quickly, and while the majority of the policing HAS to be on our ends as the parents, there need to be measures in place to ensure this never, ever, ever, ever happens again. Allow us to put monthly, daily, whatever limits on IAP purchases. Allow us even more clear and strong control over IAPs. Allow us to remove the menu and options for IAPs in any app, to clearly and easily remove temptation for good.

    I’ve said it many times before that IAPs were the major downfall to gaming, and these stories, while preventable, show just how much of a joke consumable IAPs are. The fact that it’s even possible to sink almost $3,000 into a crappy freemium game is a massive and disgusting red flag that we are ruining everything to do with gaming by the consumer, us, being whiny cheapskates and the developers taking that stupidity and running with it, putting us where we are today.

  • Jeff

    Cool story bro tell it again

  • Craig White

    Superb comment!

  • N

    If this kid was brown (Indian), he’d get his ass whooped by his dad for this fiasco.

  • http://www.iphoneincanada.ca Gary

    Somebody going to get a hurt real bad?

  • Nick

    You kick my dog.