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.