Dad sells family car to pay for kid’s $1,800 in-app spending spree

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iPhone in-app purchases
iPhone in-app purchases can make this a very expensive dragon.
Screenshot: Ludia

A Welsh doctor let his 7-year-old play a game on his iPhone for an hour and ended up with a whopping $1,800 bill for in-app purchases.

Apple refunded the man $290, but he had to sell his Toyota to cover the rest of the bill.

iPhone in-app purchases can really rack up

Dr. Muhammad Mutaza allowed his son Ashaz to play Dragons: Rise of Berk believing it would be safe because the game is free. But the boy made nearly 30 in-app purchases of up to £99.99 ($137).

Apple sent Mutaza notifications about each purchase, but his account uses an email address he rarely checks. And the child knew his dad’s account password.

Mutaza’s first thought was that he’d been scammed, but he discovered the purchases had been made by Ashaz.

He is furious. “I’ve been an Apple customer since 2005, I just said to the customer services man on the phone ‘Well done, you’ve ripped me off, congratulations you have succeeded in ripping my child off. You’ve tricked him,’” the doctor told The Daily Mail. “‘But I’m not going to be spending another penny on you ever again.’”

Be sure Ask to Buy is activated

When asked for comment by The Daily Mail, Apple pointed out that an iPhone used by anyone under 13 should have Ask to Buy turned on by default. This feature lets children browse apps, but every time they try to purchase or download something, an alert pops up on their parents’ iPhone (or iPad), asking for permission.

The difficulty in this situation was that Ashaz wasn’t using his own device. He was using his father’s. So it didn’t have Ask to Buy turned on automatically. This is one of the reasons Apple gets so many requests to add multiple user accounts to iOS. If Ashaz had a separate account on his father’s iPhone, he could have been blocked from making in-app purchases.