updated 10:11 am EDT, Mon March 25, 2013
Apple refusing to refund £3,700 bill, paper
A UK policeman, Doug Crossnan, has reported his 13-year-old son Cameron for fraud after he spent £3,700 on in-game purchases on his iPad, the Daily Mail reports. Doug tells the paper that his son was unaware he was being charged for the purchases, but that Apple has so far refused to make a refund. The fraud charge, he explains, is now the only way to recoup the money, since he needs a crime reference number for any hope of a claim.
"In theory the local police station would contact me and ask for Cameron to come in to be interviewed," adds Mr. Crossnan. "I could make it difficult of course and refuse to bring him in and they would have to come and arrest him. Really I just want to embarrass Apple as much as possible. Morally, I just don't understand where Apple gets off charging for a child's game."
Cameron has had the iPad since December, when he and other students at his school received them as learning aids. Doug registered his credit card info with Apple when he bought an album on the device; this, though, appears to have opened the door to Cameron making over 300 purchases in games such as Plants vs. Zombies and N.O.V.A. 3. The games are all third-party titles hosted on Apple's App Store.
"None of us had any knowledge of what was happening as there was no indication in the game that he was being charged for any of the clicks made within it," says Doug. "He [Cameron] innocently thought that, because it was advertised as a free game, the clicks would not cost anything." Apple, though, has insisted that it was Doug's responsibility to watch over the iPad, and that the tablet has password locks to block unwanted purchases.
In the past few years a variety of parents have brought complaints against Apple over in-app purchases, including formal lawsuits. An increasing number of games have adopted a "freemium" model -- meaning that they're initially free, but that people must pay for some in-game items, expansions, and currency using real money. Some of the games don't make it clear that real money is involved, and Apple's own attempts to make in-app purchases quick and seamless have made it easy for children make downloads accidentally. The company recently added an "Offers In-App Purchases" warning to App Store pages, but only on the desktop version of the storefront.