This 5-Year-Old Kid Just Spent Over $2,500 In 5-Minute iPad App Buying Spree

Wherein tiny digits cost a U.K. family big, big bucks.

A 5-year-old child in the U.K. astonished and dismayed his parents after running up a bill of £1,710.43 (more than $2,500) in just five minutes by making a sequence of expensive in-app purchases in an otherwise free iPad game. He was playing Zombie versus Ninja, with permission, and the Telegraph reports he quickly bought multiple add-ons like "333 keys" for £70 ($105) a pop. The family only found out about it the next day when iTunes receipts were emailed and the credit card company rang to ask about the transactions.

Apple has agreed to refund the family for the mistake, but notes that in this situation the spending spree was triggered by the family itself: They voluntarily entered the passcode that's designed to stop this sort of spending the moment before they handed the iPad to their son. Apple recently settled a lawsuit in the U.S. that suggested the company should prevent such kid-related spending sprees. Apple has already released upgraded software for iPads and iPhones with parental passcode locks and has a separate software suite that can manage and lock down iDevices entirely.

Do you sympathize with this family...or do you think they should've been more in control? Has your child cost you money accidentally on an iDevice or an Android one?

[Image: Flickr user cristiano_betta]

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  • I think Apple has a problem here.

    Apple does not hand out iCloud accounts to people under 18. So what parents actualy should do is stop buying iPads for their kids. And then we will see Apple reacting to that.

    For now parents handout their personal accounts to their kids. Apple does NOT support family accounts, resulting in every member of the family buying their own copy of everything. And with "handy" single-click buying also their credit card.

    What parents can do is remove their creditcard information from their iTunes accounts and mail Apple that they will reconsider once Apple takes families more serious. I'm pretty sure that is 30% of the clients of Apple will remove creditcard information away from Apple that they will respond.

    For now they will tell the incidental protesters to shut-up. And blaim their parenthood for the misleading in Apples iTunes/iPad sales strategy.

  • blaster151

    My 6-year-old daughter just spent $100 in my Facebook game that I left open - but Facebook fortunately gave me a one-time refund!

  • Danadu1230

    My Kindle Fire has a passcode to log on, and then a different passcode to make purchases. I have the password set, even though I don't have kids, because I don't want to accidentally click and purchase something.

    I feel like companies have done enough to help combat accidental spending, but I also think that in extreme cases, they need to reimburse parents in situations just like this. Honestly, with a credit card, it can be your own carelessness that gets it lost or stolen, but if you contact the bank, they will work with you to refund the money that someone else spent. I feel that this should be the same sort of case.

  • boomkap

    Every in app purchase should require some sort of captcha or pass code to prevent kids from doing this. In addition there should be a daily limit set by the app store towards any sort of purchase. Once that is triggered, the account holder needs to log in to increase the limit or verify the purchase. 
    I am not surprised this happened to this family. Most kids are on an iPad these days - learning, interacting or playing games. This is just the reality of the generation the kinds are growing up in. 

  • What do you mean by 'need'? Does the 5 year old know the difference between in-game credits and real-life credit?

    Does an (i)Device need to make it easy to swap these two valuta-s?