Apple’s in-app purchasing spirals out of control

Rating: Child lands £1,300 bill from free iPad app

No warning in the UK

Despite numerous precedents and calls from the US House of Representatives, Apple has demonstrated that – once again – it is permitting unscrupulous publishers to fleece parents. This time, in the UK, a seven-year old child managed to run up a £1,300 bill by making in-app purchases. He was playing a game called Tap Zoo from Pocket Gems – a San Francisco based developer. Although the game itself is free, players are encouraged to ‘collect’ virtual animals with golden coins whose purchase charges range from £1 to £79.99. Take a look at the game’s front page via iTunes on a PC and there’s absolutely no warning that such vast fees can be incurred. An Apple spokesman told This is Money here, ”Parents can easily use our parental control settings to restrict app downloading and turn-off in-app purchasing.”

Yes, but parents need to have some kind of warning that it is imperative that they do so.

Apple also pleaded that, “In addition to a password being required to buy an app in the App Store, a re-entry of your password is now required when making an in-app purchase.”

When did it make this change? As GoMo News reported here ‘Apple brings in-app purchasing into disrepute – yet again‘ , a child managed to rack up an enormous bill because the purchases were all made within 15 minutes of the original download.

Once again Apple maintained that “We are proud to have industry-leading parental controls.” Industry-leading?

If Apple permits a child’s game to take twice an average person’s monthly income from a player what on earth are other apps doing? We love to see the evidence.

This is Money told its readers this. “The App Store carries a warning at the top of the page for Tap Zoo saying it allows ‘in-app’ purchases and that users may want to disable the feature.”

GoMo News tried to replicate this. We did so by going onto the Apple Store in the USA  here where suddenly this warning had appeared.

“PLEASE NOTE: this game lets you purchase items within the game for real money.  Please disable in-app-purchases.”

We can only speculate that either this warning hasn’t been added to the UK web site yet or that you have to update iTunes on your PC to see it.

The victim Ms Heidi Drager of Barnsley, South Yorkshire claimed her son Jack managed to make the purchases over a period of four days.

According to This is Money, “Apple has now agreed to refund the bill.” Well, that is a precedent.

We wonder if Apple is going to refund the £87.48 that four-year old Oliver Allen managed to incur by playing Smurf’s Village?

We’d also like to suggest to US Senator, Amy Klobuchar, that she has another word about Apple’s behaviour.

If Apple is permitting a child to run up a large bill in an attempt to win a game, then surely the company is facilitating gambling by a minor?

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
This article was published in App stores, Apple, Games and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Apple’s in-app purchasing spirals out of control

  1. Pingback: Apple’s in-app purchasing spirals out of control – GoMo News

  2. J. Read says:

    Now parents are using iPads as babysitters. I personally feel sorry for the kid – they probably don’t get a shred of attention from Mum and Dad. I hope he/she bleeds them dry.

  3. Bob says:

    “I personally feel sorry for the kid – they probably don’t get a shred of attention from Mum and Dad”

    Well, the kid’s got the parents’ attention now!

  4. Chris says:

    Yes yes. Another article written about “control”. Never mind parental responsibility. If one is too lazy to monitor online activity, and develop an understanding of the technology involved, then don’t give it to them until you do. Again, laws and mandates are generally for stupid people.

  5. Pingback: Виртуальный зоопарк за £1,300

  6. Tony Dennis says:

    Ooh. That’s a bit harsh. Who hasn’t fallen for a bit of spam, ever?

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