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In-App Purchase “Horror Stories” Trigger U.K. Watchdog Scrutiny

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Remember those British cases when children left in the company of an iPad racked up thousands of dollars in in-app purchases? Although some of them had a happy ending, in-app purchases offered in free apps have captured the U.K. Office of Fair Trading’s attention, triggering an investigation, BBC reports.

in-app-purchase

The OFT want to know whether the games put undue pressure on children to pay for additional content, and wants to hear from parents their complaint – which at first glance seems to be the companies (developers) aggressive push for in-app purchases to children.

What’s concerning though is a recent study conducted by PhonePayPlus, which found a 300% increase in complaints from consumers about the bills generated by in-app purchases involving children.

Cavendish Elithorn, senior director for goods and consumers at the OFT, said the regulator is “concerned that children and their parents could be subject to unfair pressure to purchase when they are playing games they thought were free, but which can actually run up substantial costs”.

This isn’t the first time in-app purchases have made headlines in the media: Apple was in hot water as target of a class action lawsuit claiming its 2011-era in-app purchase policy failed to prevent children from “racking up big fees on their parents’ accounts”.

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  • Joe

    How about you just don’t tell the kids your password? Bam, problem solved

  • K3

    is there not an option to disable in app purchases before the parents hand over the iPad to the kids? Can the parents not have an itunes account for the children specifically and use itunes cards when it’s play time?

    Make the parents pay for not thinking first before handing over the keys to their offspring.

  • Come on, that would be TOO easy 😉

  • Stupid is as stupid does. You have to input your password for an in-app purchase.

    Yes, they’re a pain in the ass, so stop clicking on them and putting in your password.

  • I think some of the problem is that parents are using these games to basically be able to ignore their kids, and I bet some of them just put in the password not really caring if its a few bucks, but once its in, I think you don’t have to do it again. And seriously if they are not paying attention to their kids then maybe they should actually “parent” and not just hope the iPad will make things easier on them. If you can’t deal with the responsibility then maybe you should pay for being a complete moron in having kids in the first place. My daughter, who is now an adult, use to play games all the time, but I made sure what they were and OMG I actually played them with her.

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