iOS in-app purchase (teaser)

I don’t have kids yet. But when I do, I’m going to make sure that I take all of the necessary steps to prevent them from making purchases in the App Store. There are various ways to do this, and for me it’s just common sense—I wouldn’t leave them with real money.

But apparently, it’s not such a cut-and-dry matter for some folks. Take this story by UK’s Mirror publication, which went viral this weekend, about an 8-year-old girl racking up a staggering $6000 App Store bill on her father’s iPad by making several in-app purchases…

The Mirror reports:

“An eight-year-old girl ran up a massive £4,000 bill by playing free games on her dad’s iPad. Lee Neale said he may have to sell his car and two motorbikes after daughter Lily blew a small fortune in Apple’s iTunes App Store. The youngster spent more than £2,000 in six days paying for in-game upgrades and bonus content through 74 transactions.

Horrified Lee found out when the bank froze his account and banned him from withdrawing cash. He said the schoolgirl was unaware she was being charged “real money”. Lee, 43, fumed: “Lily is only eight and hasn’t grasped the concept of money.”

Lee, an aerospace engineer from Somerset, U.K., says that his daughter had admitted that she had seen him enter his password into his iPad when downloading things from the App Store, and she used it to buy hundreds of IAPs from games like Campus Life and My Horse.

Apple, of course, sent Lee dozens of e-mail receipts confirming Lily’s purchases, but he admits he didn’t notice them until it was too late. He called Apple to try and get them to erase the charges, explaining that she was only 8-years-old, but they refused to refund his money.

But for reasons that are still unclear, the Cupertino company has since decided to reverse its course. “Apple called me to say they will be refunding the money I have lost,” he told the outlet, “and apologized for closing my case so early.” The change of heart isn’t surprising.

Apple has taken a lot of heat over the years for its ‘in-app purchasing’ mechanism. The company has not only had to refund a number parents for unauthorized purchases, but it’s also spent an estimated $100 million on a recent class-action lawsuit settlement over IAPs. Yikes.

  • Kevin Guzman

    Parents are dumb.

    • Jacob S

      Yeah, very true, and that’s why you born s*** head!

      • Kevin Guzman

        You sir, have offended me.

      • Jacob S

        Oh, I am sorry, but you offended the “parents” and I am a parent!

      • Kevin Guzman

        Good for you. Hopefully you’re smart enough to know how to turn off IAP and make sure you’re monitoring your child’s browsing history!

      • Jacob S

        Yes I am smart enough to prevent IAP, but that doesn’t mean that every one else is smart enough. So when you say “parents” are dumb in whole, that include yours! So, better pay some respect to your parents next time! Good luck.

      • Kevin Guzman

        Parents are still dumb.

      • Jacob S

        Yeah, so my statement about you is absolutely right!

      • Kevin Guzman

        It sure is!

    • yeah crazy kid and dumb father

      • Kevin Guzman

        I’m not saying the child is crazy for buying all those IAP, the child obviously didn’t know any better. I’m saying most parents don’t realize that something like an iPad should not be given to a child without supervising them. I actually bought an iPad Mini for my younger sister (8 years old) and I made sure to turn off IAP and deactivate Safari simply because I know kids eventually run into something they’re not suppose to look at or buy. She has her own Apple ID and I also made sure all the apps she downloads are age appropriate WITHOUT having to read this or any other article. Its just common sense.

    • Antzboogie

      Lol sometimes and why wouldn’t you buy your daughter her own iDevice your an aerospace engineer? Lol! and you have 2 motorcycles and a car?? Cant afford your daughter an iPad with her own account? Smh

      • Kevin Guzman

        I figured an aerospace engineer would have enough money in the bank to pay those IAP off. Good for him that Apple decided to reimburse him because it was actually his fault for not noticing the emails of the purchases.

  • chumawumba

    Solution: LocalIAPStore

    • Tahir Ahmetovic


      • hardlord999

        not a real solution dude!

      • Tahir Ahmetovic

        than what is it

    • disqus_rFl9dPBqOb

      or just plain old modding the file

    • I disagree. That’s stealing from the devs. It’s illegal and they need to make a living and feed themselves, don’t be a thief and steal iAP’s. 0.99-5.99 isn’t a lot to ask and if you don’t like that don’t buy the in app purchases. it’s my opinion.

      • Meatloaf

        Well this is jailbreak community. 🙁

      • Chris Wagers

        Jail breaking doesn’t mean pirating.

      • Meatloaf

        But jailbreaking made it possible to pirate apps.

      • Der Faust

        yes….but that doesn’t make it right….what should really happen is less of those stupid “free” games.

      • Guest

        Well, tell your greedy devs to stop making stupid in-app infected games. PS1 Games that are offered via PSN on the PSP are far more fun and interactive than any iOS game could dream of becoming, yet they never had this nonsense in-app infection and they cost only a flat $5.

        If the devs want to end piracy, they’ll have to end their greed.

      • Tae Lee

        Obviously PS1 and PSP games are better they’re supposed to be. Their both GAMING consoles and devices, that’s like comparing a adult to a toddler and saying the adult is stronger. But the iPhone on the other hand is a mobile device, the gaming apps are a bonus and the apps cost merely 7 to 1 dollars. Most of the paid apps do not require in-app purchases to enjoy but on the other hand free apps have in-app purchases because the devs need to make money since making games is what most of them do for a living.

      • Damian W

        have you seen in-app purchases in Real Racing 3 and some other games?? I guess not. They go up to as much as over 100 dollars for one thing – unlocking all content with plenty of “cash” or points.

        Some devs are just plain dumb. How can you make an in-app for 100 bucks. I might as well buy xbox 360 or ps3 with a bit of extra cash.

      • Guest

        Are you a developer? It doesn’t seem like it. You would know how it sucks.
        I have played RR3 and I have gotten far without iAP’s. If you don’t like RR3 just don’t get the game! You can live without that game, you don’t need to pirate stuff.
        And I agree it’s foolish to buy 100$ of in-app but the devs just offer it for the hardcore gamers. The devs have to make money you know.
        I agree it sucks to wait a long time before getting a car delivered but I didn’t crack in app purchases.
        Well that’s just my opinion I don’t want to start a comment war or something so yeah.

      • Falk M.

        A good dev knows how to make a great game without pissing off gamers and giving the gamers incentives to buy DLCs or IAPs that don’t merely “fix” the game.

        Also, RR3 is owned by EA now, no sympathies there, because they don’t do it for the poor devs or their poor studios. It’s just gotten a greedy conglomerate and I’m constantly scratching my head why EA is still allowed to buy that many studios anymore.
        RR2 was the best iOS racer and I’m not gonna touch RR3, that shit won’t come near my device in a lifetime.

      • Damian W

        the point is – 100 bucks for in-app purchase – is a joke. I don’t need to be a developer to realize this.

    • n0ahcruz3

      Hey!… Dont forget iap cracker. Lol

  • :D

    Smartphones. Stupidhumans.

    • hardlord999

      just wait until 2100
      the scientists will invent IHP (in human purchase)

      • iosPixel

        Haha “Testosterone Booster Pack – 20% Off this weekend!”

      • hardlord999

        YEAA you forget to download new content first!!!

  • notewar

    You can never really go far with $6000 in Clash of Clans

    • felixtaf

      Unless you know that you can get back your money from Apple…

  • David Gitman

    solution: disconnect your apple id before giving your iDevice to kids…
    or make a new one just for them

    • Arya Kalashi


    • Jack Wong

      Use gift card and remove the credit card, this is what I do since day1 of appstore.

      Just incase if I click the BUY too fast…

      • Jacob S

        That is practical! Good suggestion. 🙂

      • Check out FreeMyApps if you’re interested…

      • felixtaf

        FreeAppSlots too…

  • TinTonB

    I really don’t agree with this at all. The parents just don’t want to admit fault, it’s the same at schools now, the parent will blame the teacher even if child is a spoiled little brat with no intention of learning. It’s the new ‘blame culture’.

    – The parents on purchasing/downloading the app will have been shown that, and i quote, ‘Offers In-App Purchases’.

    – The child should not know their parents store passwords. [read on, i cover it]

    – The child should have respect and ASK out of courtesy about buying such things, regardless whether the child understands monetary value or not, and honestly at 8 years old they should understand at least the basic concept.

    – The parent during that time is fully responsible for the child’s actions, as they gave the conscious decision to hand over the device and therefore should accept and fault on their part. If not then they should do something about it, it’s their bloody off spring for crying out loud!

    – OK, it was over his shoulder. THAT still does not stop the fact that she knew exactly what it was and how to use that password, consciously deciding to use that to then get the things she wanted from the app. Obviously shows she has tried before and has needed the password.

    – There are measures in place in iOS to stop this kind of thing, admittedly iOS still desperately needs some sort of user login to easily switch between ‘locked down’ modes, as the restrictions toggles are really clunky in iOS 6 and it’s not a very easy system to setup and just leave with multiple people with different ‘priorities’ using the device; i.e. user; admin, etc…

    When I was younger, heck even when I purchased my first iPod [talking around 14-ish], I asked permission not only out of respect for my parents but as they were the card holder.

    TL:DR: The guy gave his iPad to his kid knowing that they were using an app with in app purchases, its labelled when he had download it. The kid knew exactly what she needed to find and also how to get it, showing a lack of respect to the farther. On his own head be it if he isn’t monitoring or teaching the kid respect for his things.

    This blame culture has to stop. It’s pathetic.

    • Guest

      LOL at all of that

      • TinTonB

        When you gotta’ rant, you gotta’ rant! 🙂

    • Dani Hayes

      Greedy developers have ruined apps and games with iap’s. Just do away with it once and for all. $99 for some stupid coins in a game is ridiculous.

      • Imahottguy

        So greedy! How dare they try to make money via a game that is (usually) distributed for free! Clearly every developer is independently wealthy and makes games for their own amusement. There are so many games out there, if it becomes clear that one cannot advance further in a certain game without paying, then play a different one!

      • Dani Hayes

        My word I just got served by the king of SarcastiLand. Please let me swear aligeance to thee??

      • brooks whiffen seale

        The main developers for freemium games are companies like, EA, gameloft, that GREEDILY make freemiums, not hard working developers.

      • TinTonB

        I agree. How they have done it baffles me. When the appstore first started £0.99 got you an entire app!

        Now, people spend hundreds of £££ on an app. Its bonkers!

  • iosPixel

    “Lee, an aerospace engineer”

    Come on dude it’s not rocket science!

  • abdullah575

    just stop iap Purchase from Settings!!

  • Apple should offer the option to disable this by default during first setup and stop wasting time with these nonsense excuses. Unfortunately, not enough lawsuits have come their way for them to consider such generous option; only a few have spoken out about the greedy tactic targeting senseless kids.

  • Clement Yeo

    i want my refund too~~ nahhh just saying

  • Joe Benning

    They only offered the refund after a class action lawsuit was filed. Stay classy Apple…

    • JRX1

      They shouldn’t have offered it at all. The guy and his kid STOLE $6000 worth of downloads, period. When I give my iPad to my child, I first log out of the app store and make sure she does not know the password. And how about all the emails the father was getting? Oh he didn’t notice them? WTF more can Apple do for him, should Tim Cook call him personally to tell him his daughter is downloading? These people are thieves, simple.

  • Tony Klapatch

    This happens ALL THE TIME. It’s why Apple created a restriction in Settings,General, Restrictions Just a simple switch and password can save you all the trouble… So sick of these, Apple shouldn’t refund there money at all.

  • Sam ©

    No sympathy for these cases there are many restriction/parental controls on iOS that this can only happen through the parents negligence