Apple sued by parents over in-app charges

Apple sued by parents over in-app charges
Apple is being sued by parents of young Apple iPhone users who claim that the tech titan is unfairly profiting from in-app charges. While many apps are free, of course, some in-app purchases can cost hundreds of dollars. A recent study showed that the average U.S.developer is making $63,885.34 in revenue thanks to in-app purchases from Apple iPhone users, just in the first month of being listed in the App Store. The plaintiffs complain that the system makes it too easy for kids to run up huge bills without getting approval from their parents. Apple has asked for the court to throw out the case, saying that in-app purchasing can now be disabled. Judge US District Judge Edward Davila ruled that a hearing can now move forward.

Apple's app-purchasing process allows users to enter a credit card number once, and allow future purchases to be automatically authorized. A recent update to iOS added a second layer of password protection and the ability to make an in-app purchase can be shut down entirely. Still, attorney Garen Meguerian said that the addictive nature of some games could lead children to purchase in-app upgrades without parents realizing that they are on the hook for the payments. Many "freemium" apps are free for a small taste of a game and offer paid upgrades to more competitive levels of game play. Some upgrades offer special powers or tools that players need in order to win a game. The FTC has warned developers that they must do more to warn parents.

In a court filing from 2011, Mr Meguerian listed some games which he felt were designed to "induce purchases of game currency," such as Capcom's Smurf's Village. While the game is free, in-app purchases range from about $5 to $110.  A warning message says that the game "charges real money for additional in-app content," and while the game can be played without upgrading, the progress is much slower. One review of the game noted that, "You really wont get anywhere with just the free stuff." The warning also mentions that in-app purchasing can be disabled.

In the UK, the 10 year old daughter of Niamh Bolton  ran up a bill of £1,500 ($2385.60 USD) playing Tap Pet Hotel. This is part of a wider Tap series of games which was mentioned in Mr. Meguerian's court filing. Mrs. Bolton said that her daughter ran up the charge in less than 2 hours and was done prior to Apple adding the in-app disabling option. "It was more than our monthly mortgage repayment," she told the BBC.

"We didn't have that sort of spare cash in the bank account." Apple refunded the money.


source: BBCNews

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81 Comments

1. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

In app purchases are bad on Google Play. If you purchase something in app and your game messes up, you have to repurchase the in app content. I prefer everything to but purchased separately on the market so you have a option to redownload the content you paid for.

7. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

In app purchases are lost on Facebook and iOS, if the app messes up - they are a waste of money, as at some point, you grow bored of the game, and realize you spent 100.00 on in app purchases that are useless....It has nothing to do with G.P.

25. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Contact the developer when that happens. They can credit the account

36. anywherehome

Posts: 971; Member since: Dec 13, 2011

Android has possibility to enter a pin when you want to buy something.....so Android again wins....as usual :)

40. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

not in in-app purchasing.

60. anywherehome

Posts: 971; Member since: Dec 13, 2011

aha, ok

61. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Ok, I have PIN enabled for all purchases. Granted, I havent tried in app purchases, but ur saying that if im playing...say... burger time.. and i want to buy something in game.. it has the ability to over ride my mandatory PIN code? That I have not seen. Can anyone validate that in app purchases over ride PIN code restrictions? As far as I have seen PIN code is the ultimate over ride on Android devices.

64. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

remember they only very recently added pin codes to Market Purchases. when you do an in-app purchase all it does is show you a pop-up asking you which credit card you want to use and to verify the purchase.

2. plgladio

Posts: 314; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

Haha OS should come with child protection lock...

26. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Then none of their customers could use thr device...

3. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

this seems kind of ridiculous… i mean apple puts disabling passwords and complete locks… if they want to give their kids the password and not chose to lock it then thats their issue… its already enough of a pain to input the password every time.. i am not sure what more they would want.. do they want apple to just scrap a feature cause they cant control their children?

9. cepcamba

Posts: 717; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

Agree. AND how come the kid knows the credit card number? Parents should be responsible enough to keep that from kids.

19. jsjakesaid

Posts: 12; Member since: Apr 04, 2012

The credit car no. is already pre entered when you set up your account on apple account

20. jsjakesaid

Posts: 12; Member since: Apr 04, 2012

and in app purchases require no passwords etc -.-. why must people comment if they don;t know what they are talking about

21. cepcamba

Posts: 717; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

@jsjakesaid Geez. Ok, I kind of said it wrongly. I was under the assumption that the kid registered it. That's why I said the parents should be responsible to keep it from their kids. Now, let's say the account was registered by the parents, it is still their responsibility to monitor the activities of their child. That's why a kid needs a guardian. Kids can't decide properly at their young age. As long as a kid is a kid it is the responsibility of the parents to look after them, not Apple, or the Gov't. Not intending to be in argument with you jsjakesaid but I just hate it when I see parents blaming others for the misfits of their child.

30. stealthd unregistered

iOS DOES require a password for in app purchases, some people should follow their own advice...

74. Virile

Posts: 38; Member since: Mar 01, 2012

You sir are retarded, in-game ap purchases do require a password to be entered. So like you said why must people comment if they don't know what they are talking about.

4. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

While it's always hilarious to see Apple in trouble for something, this is ludicrous. These parents need to pay more attention to what their kids are doing.

16. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Exactly, I hate apple, but the parents are idiots for not monitoring what their kids do. Not to mention that the parents should have never given these kids their card to make purchases to begin with. Apple shouldn't be help responsible for their customers stupidity.

27. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Kids shouldn't be using multi-hundred-dollar electronics anyway. There are sufficient cheaper options for less with restrictions for kids built in

28. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

like getting the same things on Amazon for a penny... xD

5. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

those poor moms are going to be eaten alive. this is the fault of bad parenting not in-app purchasing. remember parents, giving your children smartphones is a privilege, not a right. responsibility is a part of the deal.

57. cepcamba

Posts: 717; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

You sound mature for a 19 year old :p

58. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

i'm pretty mature i think, not that i don't have fun trolling or anything but sometimes it does feel like the roles are reversed in my family sometimes. xD

71. TROLL

Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

True ur smart for ur age..... Me was thinking u are in ur 30s

78. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

wai danku! :3

81. cepcamba

Posts: 717; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

@TROLL Yeah, before I thought this guy was in his 30s too until I read in one of his previous posts that he was 19 haha. @KingKurogiii Reversal of family roles, haha, I like that one :p Some people really grow old backwards.

6. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

ok, I call this B.S. In my family we have an ipod touch, iphone 3GS (no sim), iphone 4S (VZW) and a wi-fi only ipad I - yeah, I know....lol, sorry....anyways, when my kids want something they have to enter a code and hand the device to me. I never had a problem with the kids running up the bill, because I control it.

18. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

That's because you're a responsible parent. These parents just want something for free, just like most of society nowadays.

11. codymws

Posts: 237; Member since: Jun 17, 2010

I actually hope they win, and Apple puts password protection on in-app purchases. I gave my younger sister my old iPod Touch with my account still on it. I always had her come to me when she wanted new games or apps, but I didn't realize that she didn't need approval to buy in-app purchases. I got charged $10 for in-app purchases on some dress up game. After noticing the charges, I had her show me what she was doing, and I wouldn't have even known that it'd have charged me if I was playing. Anyways, I think Apple needs to put password protection on in-app purchases, or at least give the user the option.

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