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Apple Offers Refund After British Boy Spends $2500 on In-App Purchases in 15 Minutes

A five-year-old boy in the UK accidentally made £1700 ($2550) of in-app purchases in a freemium game in just 15 minutes after asking his father to type in the password for a free download, reports the BBC (via Gizmodo).


The Zombies vs Ninja game was a free download, but with £70 ($105) in-app purchases for game keys and weapons packs. Neither the 5-year-old, Danny Kitchen, nor his parents were aware of the charges being racked up as the child played. His mother Sharon Kitchen said:
He was very upset when he realised what he had done. His brothers and sisters were telling him off, but of course he didn't know what he did - he's only five.
Apple refunded the charges, but the incident does highlight the dangers of freemium games aimed at young children. As for Danny:
I was worried and I felt sad. I’m banned from the iPad now.
The publicity comes just days after Apple settled a U.S. lawsuit over the same issue, offering affected customers iTunes credits of at least $5, with cash payments available to customers with claims over $30.

app_purchase_password_restrictions
It is not entirely clear how Danny Kitchen was able to purchase in-app content if his father had only entered the account password to download an app, as Apple separated app and in-app purchases with iOS 4.3 two years ago. The Kitchen's password should have been required a second time before in-app purchase could be downloaded.

Apple also provides a variety of parental controls and restriction tools to help minimize the possibility of such issues, allowing parents to restrict what types of content may be used on the device, turn off app downloads or in-app purchases, and require the account password for every app or in-app transaction.

Top Rated Comments

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23 months ago
In-app purchases are the one single worst thing to happen to iOS. That's why we have those ****ing freemium games and apps. Jesus ...
Rating: 72 Votes
23 months ago
Something is wrong with society if a 5-year-old child is able to spend $2500 in a few minutes.
Rating: 40 Votes
23 months ago

Something is wrong with society if a 5-year-old child is able to spend $2500 in a few minutes.


I love these sorts of 'won't someone think of the children/western civilization is falling' comments.

They're always so well thought out.
Rating: 35 Votes
23 months ago
We need people to start owning up for their own mistakes. The password was put in by an adult, he's responsible for that purchase.
Rating: 32 Votes
23 months ago
This is not Apple's fault. Its a bit "cheeky" of the developer to put a £69.99 IAP in a Children's app but, ultimately, its the parents' fault. Parental Controls DO exist (and are not hard to find) and, technically, that app was aged 9 and upwards. So only the parents have themselves to blame.
Rating: 26 Votes
23 months ago
As stated, there's Parental Controls... that toggle is there for a reason, and I don't get why people don't enable it.
Rating: 19 Votes
23 months ago
Lots of Personal Responsibility Badasses in here. And here I thought I was one of them!

If you build a system where it's ridiculously easy to accidentally buy extremely expensive virtual goods, you should also have a reasonable system in place to allow people to reverse those mistakes.

It's not like the kid came home with a new car or a yacht. You can't commit yourself to purchasing something like that with an errant swipe of the finger.

Never before in human history have we had a situation where a person could say "Oops! I just spent $2,500 on accident, now we can't make the mortgage payment". Suddenly this possibility has been sprung upon us, blindsiding many, and the Macrumors zeitgeist is "Make the bastards pay!"
Rating: 18 Votes
23 months ago

This is not Apple's fault. Its a bit "cheeky" of the developer to put a £69.99 IAP in a Children's app but, ultimately, its the parents' fault. Parental Controls DO exist (and are not hard to find) and, technically, that app was aged 9 and upwards. So only the parents have themselves to blame.


Apple could perhaps help matters (and save any future bad publicity) by making In-App Purchases an opt-in rather than the current opt-out to restrict it.
Rating: 16 Votes
23 months ago

That refund should be accompanied by a rattan cane and instructions for its proper use on that kid.


That's actually a horrible thing to even joke about. And about a 5 year old. Distasteful.

It's so easy for so many people here to judge on parenting without considering for a second that this isn't even about parenting or at least very well might not be.

As I wrote earlier - most people here know the ins and outs of iOS and about parental controls. Not everyone explores all the settings and features on their phone/iPad. Should they - you can argue either way. But then you could also argue that things like this should default to OFF not ON - making the choice pro-active.
Rating: 15 Votes
23 months ago

It is not entirely clear how Danny Kitchen was able to purchase in-app content if his father had only entered the account password to download an app, as Apple separated app and in-app purchases with iOS 4.3 two years ago. The Kitchen's password should have been required a second time before in-app purchase could be downloaded.


I expect the game was already on the iPad at that point, downloaded any time before. The kid then goes up to his father, asking for the password saying it's a free download. But it was actually for these paid in-game credits.
Rating: 12 Votes

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