5-Year-Old Boy Spends $2,550 On In-App Purchases In Just Ten Minutes

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Kids love the iPad; download a few children’s games and it’ll keep them entertained for hours. But don’t leave them unsupervised too long, because it could cost you. Sharon and Greg Kitchen from Bristol, England, found that out the hard way when their five-year-old son Danny spent $2,550 on in-app purchases in just 10 minutes.

Danny asked his father Greg to enter the password for his iTunes account so that he could download a free game from the App Store. Mr Kitchen reluctantly agreed, thinking the download would cost him nothing — but Danny “accidentally” bought a stack of in-app purchases priced at £69.99 ($105) each to help him progress in the game.

The following day, Mr Kitchen received an iTunes invoice for £1,700 ($2,550).

Danny “was very upset when he realized what he had done,” Mr Kitchen told BBC News. “His brothers and sisters were telling him off, but of course he didn’t know what he did – he’s only five.”

Mr and Mrs Kitchen aren’t the first parents to receive an unexpected iTunes bill after handing their iOS device to a child. But it could well be the biggest bill that’s been racked up accidentally. Fortunately for the Kitchens, Apple has agreed to refund the full £1,700, but other parents might not be so lucky.

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  • joewaylo

    The kid’s lucky. I’d have nuked the iPad and bought him a regular gameboy after learning my lesson there.

  • lwdesign1

    I think this is the basis behind Apple’s initial reluctance and ban on having in-app purchases in the first place, specifically because of this problem. It’s especially egregious to have in-app purchases available in kids games, for the simple reason that kids CAN do this kind of thing without realizing the consequences. I’d bet that Apple revises its policies on in-app game purchases after this.

  • allanreyesphoto

    Another reason why I jailbreak my iDevices. To prevent my little ones from accessing stuff that they’re not suppose to. Folders are locked and they can only access their apps. Connecting to app store and making in-app purchases are a no-go for them too. When they are using their apps, they can’t even go back to the home screen. They are stuck using that app until they get sick of it and ask me to change it.

  • RadTech5000

    Just goes to show how Awesome Apple is and how more parents need to show better common sense in the future.

  • nmz502

    Another reason why I jailbreak my iDevices. To prevent my little ones from accessing stuff that they’re not suppose to. Folders are locked and they can only access their apps. Connecting to app store and making in-app purchases are a no-go for them too. When they are using their apps, they can’t even go back to the home screen. They are stuck using that app until they get sick of it and ask me to change it.

    Or you could go to settings and turn on parental controls :P.

  • selltheworld

    Another reason why I jailbreak my iDevices. To prevent my little ones from accessing stuff that they’re not suppose to. Folders are locked and they can only access their apps. Connecting to app store and making in-app purchases are a no-go for them too. When they are using their apps, they can’t even go back to the home screen. They are stuck using that app until they get sick of it and ask me to change it.

    Wow, you must be one scared man.

  • hanhothi

    At £69.99 for EACH download, how many people would actually CHOOSE such an in-app purchase? These are marketing ploys that some developers are using for a brief period before dropping the price back to something like £6.99 or even £0.69. Apple should ban this practice.

  • bondr006

    My son is 10 now and has been playing on an iPad since he was 7, and I’ve never had this problem. I think the parents should have been held responsible. Now that Apple has refunded them, how many people will try to take advantage of it? As long as Apple provides a means to turn off IAP’s, no one has an excuse. Just like if you are breaking a traffic law ignorantly, that doesn’t protect you from being held responsible for it.

  • Vicente

    What about limiting your iTunes purchases to only balance in the account, with no ability to pull from credit card? Isn’t that possible ?

  • icedming87

    My favorite practice is, you buy the kid the app and the app has an external link to a paid application that opens within seconds. Is this practice illegal, no. Neither is the practice of saying that siri is in beta and does absolutely nothing useful(She’s an overpriced toy). To me most developers nowadays put more effort into the advertising and in app purchases than the actual game. I vowed that after I bought Tiger Woods 2012 for the ps3 and I could not complete the whole game that I paid $60 for unless I bout 6 other courses that were priced at $5 a piece that all my devices would be jailbroken from then on. More people use ******** Hack to gip in-app purchases on the playstation network just as much as people use I*********** to get free in app purchases. This site posted an article yesterday on how streaming services has cut down a fair amount of music thievery, apple, google, and amazon should learn from this one thing. Disallow in-app purchases, make app developers put a reasonable price on the game/app that can be demoed for a day or two. And get rid of all advertising within apps, disallow it. They don’t work. Its become quite clear that the ipad especially has become a giant toy or as Conan O’Brien puts it a porn machine. It is slowly losing pace in making its way into the office and business world due to the lack of apps worth a damn that don’t have extra cost within them. Why would you by him a gameboy when you could put it on an ipod touch and download all of the roms for it?

  • technochick

    My son is 10 now and has been playing on an iPad since he was 7, and I’ve never had this problem. I think the parents should have been held responsible.

    Given that they don’t seem to have had IAPs restricted or to have investigated the game which was rated 9+ and had IAps clearly shows there are IAPs.

    Plus apparently no one was paying attention to what he was doing.

    Yeah, I think they shouldn’t have gotten a refund.

    Another reason why I jailbreak my iDevices. To prevent my little ones from accessing stuff that they’re not suppose to. Folders are locked and they can only access their apps. Connecting to app store and making in-app purchases are a no-go for them too. When they are using their apps, they can’t even go back to the home screen. They are stuck using that app until they get sick of it and ask me to change it.

    It’s called Restrictions and Guided Access. Former has been in there since at least 4.3 and the later 6.0. No jailbreak needed

  • scatteredthings

    You have added nothing to the BBC’s story, Killian. Which app? Which company? What does the company say.. Will Apple remove the app? Try some ‘journalism’, you might like it.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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