Boy racks up a £1,000 App Store bill via Simpsons game for iPad

“Theo Rowland-Fry, eight, spent almost £1,000 downloading extra software to help him play a Simpsons game on the Apple tablet,” The Belfast Telegraph reports. “His parents, Nick and Lisa, only discovered their son’s purchases when they noticed their bank balance was very low.”

“Mr Rowland-Fry, from Felton, near Bristol, said that he had been refunded the £980 but was concerned that it could happen to other people,” The Belfast Telegraph reports. “It comes just weeks after five-year-old Danny Kitchen, from Bristol, ran up a £1,700 bill playing the game Zombie on an iPad. His parents, Greg and Sharon, were also refunded.

The Belfast Telegraph reports, “An Apple spokesman did not wish to comment but referred to information available on the company’s website about parental controls.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s a parental fitness test.

48 Comments

      1. Wonder if it’s possible for a checkbox to be available at first Credit Card log in that asks: Activate automatic in App Purchases?

        If the parent’s check the box then it not only allows the purchase to occur, but confirms the parents KNEW this would happen and agreed to allow it—useful for evidence in future lawsuits.

      1. That is really a immature and blind and ignorant answer. I probably can not expect you to understand so I won’t explain. But if you are interested you have my opinion in a post below. However just think about the reputational damage to Apple. This is not good.

        1. Apple is NOT responsible for your kids, anyone looking for Apple to take over parenting their children are “really a immature and blind and ignorant”.

          ps Apple should have kept the money, as it is not their fault the parents didn’t use the Parental Controls.

        2. I’ll try to explain it this way.

          Alternate headline:
          “Parents to stupid to read the f*%$ing manual, lets child spend all their money.”

          The iPad is not a yoyo that you just buy and give to a child. Oh wait even a yoyo can strangle a toddler.

          How did parents of the 40s and 50s ever raise children? Common sense.

          1. It’s NOT good for Apple. I can see consumer protection laws coming about “luring” kids into the purchases, and though I agree parents should know better, governments moving in is not a good thing. If Apple handles this themselves it is better than attracting interference in my opinion.

  1. My 5 year old did the same thing, he bought in-app add-ons for Where’s My Water for $20. We put parental controls on all the devices that disabled in-app purchases and requires the App Store password immediately rather than once every 15 minutes.

  2. “Roland Fry, an 18 year old without permission took his dad’s Deere Riding Lawnmower for a joy ride and plowed into neighours yards, causing tens of thousands of property damage. Rolands father complained to Deere and Deere has paid all damages. “.

    (when will we see something like THAT?).

    (there are freaking parental controls on the pad dude. Go: Restrictions: Set in-App purchases to OFF. )

      1. “lawnmower is also marketed as a great toy for children.”

        “10 years from now”… it’s 10 years later and 18 year old, not a toy for children. He’s pointing out that some parents today take no responsibility and the parent and the kid would have learnt nothing as apple bailed them out and few companies like Deere will take the hit especially when safeguards are already provided (which the parent didn’t bother with).

        ( If the lawnmower WENT OUT OF CONTROL due to manufacturing issues then it would be different matter… )

        besides the app lock he mentioned, many responsible parents also don’t link a credit card to their account if they give it to a KID (unless they have already TRAINED that kid ) … like you know common sense?

    1. Don’t be a dick.
      We can not reasonably expect every one in the world, not least none techy parents, to know everything or know how to set up parental controls or even know that they are there. This is huge reputational damage to Apple because some devs are idiots.

      1. companies can’t protect everyone from being stupid and ignorant/

        apple has already set up parental controls

        ALSO THEY WERE THAT NON TECHY AND IGNORANT HOW DID THEY SET UP THEIR CREDIT CARD TO BUY STUFF?

      2. Take your own advise; don’t be a dick.
        It’s perfectly reasonable to expect parents to double-check controls when handing a device that is web-connected, and has their credit-card details on it. Your attitude is so very typical of the ‘absolve all personal responsibility, it’s someone else’s fault’ blame culture, that we in the UK have, sadly, inherited from the US.
        It’s no different to giving a child a credit/debit card with the PIN number and dropping them off at the mall while going to the game.
        But I don’t expect you to understand that…

        1. you are right

          I worked 12 years with Social Services:

          some parents call the POLICE when they can’t get their kid to go to bed.
          There are parents who have given up the 3 and 4 year olds to foster care because they claim ” the kids abuse me and kick me”. (this is true story. I’ve SETS of parents with this issue with small kids)

          Some parents today belive that “NO” said to a kid is ‘abuse’ and they have no clue how to parent but let them run around like crazed animals. Either that they are so wrapped up in their own lives that they don’t bother (like your ‘have no responsibility) and somebody “else” should deal with it.

          My wife has a masters degree in Education, she says teachers today spend 50% of their time trying to deal with kids self care (like brushing their teeth) , social issues etc which parents SHOULD have taken care off but don’t.

          1. “he says teachers today spend 50% of their time ”

            to be clear that’s 50% of of one to one student to teacher interaction time, does not include lectures etc. Instead of helping them with their maths etc teachers are dealing with personl issues that parents should have taught them.
            (no edit on MDN forums)

      3. Bullshit, Karl. You are responsible any time that you tie your credit card into a service. It may be true that these idiots will hurt Apple’s reputation, but that does not absolve them of the responsibility for policing their own children and their own finances.

      4. So should Apple sell everything with Parental Controls ON for idiots that are too lazy to read manuals? So the rest of us that DO can turn them off?

        Maybe a loud earsplitting horn should go off when an in-app purchase is about to be OK’d by anyone. Maybe then the parents who can’t be bothered will know their kid’s about to purchase something.

    1. That’s why the developers like the App Store. They would never get $1000 income stream from a boxed game for a computer. Ten dollars for a bag of jewels doesn’t seem like much, until you buy them twice a day, every day, for a month. Oops.

  3. I agree that it is ultimately the parents responsibility and Apple has provided tools to block these.

    However, in-app purchases and the whole freemium market it just a little sleezy. These companies know exactly what they are doing.

  4. What an idiot…
    But in all seriousness. Apple might want to do something abut these things since its really hurting reputation. In one way it is the parents fault for giving the boy access without understanding what they are doing. How ever, can it be expected that everyone does understand? In the end, this is hurting reputation. One can argue that it’s too easy to rack up huge bills. This would not be possible to do in a store for a kid. How ever, there was that kid that won a car in an auction online several year ago I remember, on a PC. But these events seems far too frequent on mobile devices. I think something has to be done. Apple as a company we love and trust should stand with the consumer. About a year ago a kid in my home country of Sweden racked up a bill if about 60000 SEK in a matter if minutes when he played a game on the parents iPad where you bought stuff. When they got the bill their worls were turned upside down. For a normal family 60000 SEK might be what they earn combined in two months or more. It was a huge story and Apple finally forgave the debt. So even if it ultimately is the parents fault for not understanding we can’t expect that every one does… Most people are just consumers if tech, not techies.

    1. After this the famybsaid they would remove all credit card info from iTunes and that ther would be no purchases again from the device. An overreaction perhaps but this is how “normal” people react. Myself is in the process of teaching my mom Internet banking. It’s hard for her to know how thigs work and remember. It’s all very abstract. We CAN NOT expect everyone to know everything. People must be protected. It’s not really Apple’s fault but they should take a responsibility if they are smart because they are getting the blame and bad reputation. It’s just how things work…

      1. So where do you draw the line between corporate protection and paternalism?

        On the other hand, another perspective of what you’re saying is that Apple should police the purchases of certain classes of individuals for certain classes of applications. That situation creates a lose-lose proposition for Apple who provides the mechanism, but not the software or the offer of goods. What would a reasonable rubric be?

      2. “People must be protected. It’s not really Apple’s fault but they should take a responsibility…”

        Wow, so Apple needs to be big brother?

        How about if they are not that smart, don’t hand them an iPad?

    2. KarlV,
      Apple already creates plenty safeguards against unauthorized use and purchases with their devices and iTunes. Parents need to be better stewards of their kids activities, not Apple.

    3. Exactly. Not Apple’s fault, but something they should address. They encourage and want people to link their iTunes accounts to credit cards.
      It’s not good for Apple to have parents associate iPad’s with their kids ringing up crazy Internet bills.

      1. they ALREADY have parental controls that restrict in app purchases.

        so what do you want them to do?
        BAN in app purchases? millions , nay tens of millions of gamers will complain not to mention developers.

        and if they BAN in app purchases , what if the Kid just misuses the card to buy not in app but just APPS? should apple Ban all iTunes credit card purchses? like you can only buy itunes stuff with CASH at the apple store. then if the Kid steals CASH from the parents wallets is Apple also responsible?

  5. How about something simple such as printed on the clear protection sheet. So when you first unpack the devices you see a warning label. Which would also be a disclaimer where people couldn’t say they didn’t know about it. It could be done in a classy Apple way.

    1. Except many times when you hear of this happening, it’s because the parents gave the kid their password. So requiring the password won’t help.

      It’s the parents to blame. If you give a kid a credit card, don’t be surprised if they use it!

Add Your Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.