Father, son don’t understand how the App Store works

purchasesThe Daily Mail has a story about UK policeman who is charing his teenage son with fraud over the £3,700 bill the kid ran up on his iPad via in-app purchases, in an attempt to avoid the bill. The boy, 13, states that he was “unaware he was being charged for in-game purchases” and believes Apple should pay as a result.

The boy’s father, Doug, said:

“There was no indication in the game that he was being charged for any of the clicks made within it. He innocently thought that, because it was advertised as a free game, the clicks would not cost anything.”

Buuuuuuuulllll shhhhiiiiiiiiit.

  1. The pair list Plants vs. Zombies, Hungry Shark, Gun Builder and N.O.V.A. 3 as “free” games that gave no indication that in-app purchases were available for an additional fee. Yet, the description for each reads, “Offers In-App Purchases.”
  2. Plants Vs. Zombies and N.O.V.A. 3 aren’t free to begin with.
  3. The App Store lists the most popular in-app purchases as well as the cost of each.
  4. If you attempt to make an in-app purchase, you must click through a dialog box that lists the price and asks you to confirm your decision by tapping through. You must then enter your Apple ID password.
  5. Apple emails a receipt to the account holder for each purchase. I can’t imagine Officer Doug missed £3,700 worth of receipt emails.

A few things.

Plants vs. Zombies was free for a week, so I’ll give him that, as I don’t know when he purchased it. Also, the list of popular in-app purchases is easy to overlook. However, item number four — the dialog box that lists the price, requires confirmation and must have a password is the BS detector here. There’s now way Jr. “didn’t know.”

Apple doesn’t owe this pair a single ha’penny. They’re either profoundly ignorant or blatantly lying. Why Doug’s son, a minor, has access to his Apple ID password and credit card is a mystery. It’s not Apple’s job to parent your kids, especially when disabling in-app purchases is so incredibly easy.