back to article Dad sues Apple for pushing cash-draining 'free' games at kids

An iPhone-owner whose daughter downloaded $200 (£125) worth of "Zombie Toxin" and "Gems" through in-app purchases on his iPhone has been allowed to pursue a class action suit against Apple for compensation of up to $5m (£3.1m). Garen Meguerian of Pennsylvania launched the class-action case against Apple in October 2011 after …


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  1. JakeyC

    When will parents learn

    When will parents learn to take responsibilty for educating themselves and subsequently, their offspring?

    This guy clearly had no interest in what his daughter was doing and no knowledge of whether she could make purchases on the device he let her use unsupervised.

    I'm no Apple fan but I think letting him claim up to $5 million "damages" is unfair on Apple!

    He's now had to pay the in-app "idiot tax" and got a bonus parenting wake-up call - call it quits.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When will parents learn

      When will parents learn to take responsibilty for educating themselves and subsequently, their offspring?...

      Do you have children? Have you tried to 'educate' a child and tell them not to press this button or that switch? No? Didn't think so.... now get off your bleeding high horse and stop pretending you are Mr Perfect parent.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When will parents learn

        Stupid comment. Actually it is quote easy to educate children by taking an interest, sitting down with them and above all taking parental responsibility.

        And of course password protecting your account.

        If you don't more fool you.

      2. Aaron Em

        A swat on the ass usually did the job for me

        ...oh wait, I forgot, that's child abuse now, as no doubt also is suggesting that anyone undertake such a criminal act.

        Mine's the one with the Broad Arrow.

      3. Jean-Luc
        Thumb Down

        >Do you have children?

        Doh. I do, and I do know better than to entrust them with my credit card info.

        Which is ultimately what you are doing when you give iTunes password. If you don't give it to them, problem solved. Rocket science?

        I don't disagree that the freemium aspect is a scam of sorts and maybe Apple should ban those apps.

        But ultimately you have to enter a password every time you make a purchase.

        What do you propose the vendor do? Have you enter a password and... then what exactly? Just because he can't deal with his kids doesn't mean I want to be penalized with additional crap myself.

        One thing they could do would be to NOT require the password on free apps/free addons. That way there would be no reason to give your kid any iTunes credentials whatsoever.

        Anyways, I suspect Amazon one-click ebook purchases have the same risk as well. Worse, really, because my browser logs me in directly and there is no confirmation. Then again, I don't let my kids browse on my login.

        1. A.P.Richelieu

          Re: >Do you have children?

          Interesting, Was discussing this very issue with a woman I know today.

          She was really pissed off by Apple, not allowing to give her a way

          to let her children download free apps without risking her money.

          Allowing children to download free apps with in-app purchases is evil.

          Apple makes a lot of money so punitive damages should be awarded

          accordingly. $5M is not high enough to really hurt them.

          I think that it would be good, if Apple was to pay back every cent they made

          on in-app purchases and then punitive damages on top of that.

          Punitive damages should be awarded to some fund for the benefit of children.

          1. Solar

            Re: >Do you have children?

            I think damages to the amount of all in-app purchase turnover is going too far. There are many people who are happy to pay for software and know what they're doing. Apple are, of course, entitled to conduct business as they see fit.

            However, I think it is unacceptable that Apple tolerates third parties from scamming their customers. The whole point of the 'walled garden' app store is to protect the users.

            There is absolutely nothing defensible in taking a 30% kickback from $59 of Smerfberries. If they can argue how this is good value for money, and what the total cost to play the game should be relative to the market / quality of the game, then sure, I'll by a bucket of berries and choke myself to death on them.

            1. fajensen

              Re: >Do you have children?

              """The whole point of the 'walled garden' app store is to protect the users."""

              Such Innocence. The point of the 'walled garden' is to create a monopoly and which ensures that Apple always gets a cut from the loot whenever a scam goes down. It is a virtual country with taxes and laws, ruled by King Apple.

              Besides, The point of the iPhone is to create a conduit between the consumers bank account and Apple - and to collect as much private information on the user as is technically possible, this can then also be sold in "the markit" - to the DHS, some rip-off scam mortgage vultures, Columbian death squads, who gives a toss - corporations can do anything as long as Uncle Sam gets his cut.

              As long as the iPhone is shiny, new, people will want one regardless of the side effects. The crowd even like it when someone slips and falls into a trap that they managed to avoid, gives them that nice 20'something do-gooder smugness, it does.

          2. mafoo

            Re:Re: >Do you have children? @ A.P.Richelieu

            Its pretty easy to make an iTunes account without any payment info attached to it, and that will let you download as many free apps as you want.

            Simply google "iTunes account without credit card" and there are a bazillion articles on it, top of the list apple's own on how to do it:

            And if for some reason you have given your child your iTunes account then you can go to parental restrictions and disable in app purchases. You have been able to for years.

            I personally hate IAP, so i have even disabled them via that method on my own iOS devices. No paranoia that I'm gona get shafted.

            So maybe you should do some research before you get yourself into a pious rage.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: >Do you have children?

            "She was really pissed off by Apple, not allowing to give her a way -to let her children download free apps without risking her money." - Don't associate any credit / debit / payment info with your iTunes account

            "Allowing children to download free apps with in-app purchases is evil." Sorry, not even remotley evil. Neglecting your child to such an extent that you consier giving them full unfettered access to a MARKETPLACE with YOUR credit card is more evil IMHO!

            Parents should do just that, parent. I don't have any credit card info associated with my apple account, it makes spur of the moment pourchases a little more akward (but it gives me pause for thought, do I really want this app?)

          4. FIA Silver badge

            Re: >Do you have children?

            She was really pissed off by Apple, not allowing to give her a way

            to let her children download free apps without risking her money.

            Give the child their own iTunes account and don't assign a credit card to it.

            Or don't assign a credit card to your iTunes account, just add it when you make a purchase and remove it afterwards.

            Granted there should be a way of specifying a card isn't to be stored and used for a single transaction only; however it is possible to remove it afterwards.

            another alternative would be to give the child an iTunes gift card, say once a month with their pocket money on it. They can spend it on what they choose until it runs out.

            Or a prepaid debit card such as this:



            (Don't have kids, but don't have a credit card assigned to my iTunes account either. Yes it's a faf, yes it's inconvenient, but it's not impossible.)

          5. jonathanb Silver badge

            Re: >Do you have children?

            There is a way. Give them an iTunes account linked to a gift card rather than a credit card, then the financial risk is limited to the amount of credit left on the account. I do that, and there are no children with access to my fruity devices.

        2. Richard 118

          Re: >Do you have children?

          Any also enable iPhone parental controls to block in app purchase, without a seperate pin code AS WELL as your iTunes password.

          Ignorance is supposed to be no defence in law

        3. big_D Silver badge

          Re: >Do you have children?

          Whilst I generally agree, the big problem, when it first appeared, was that there was a 15 minute window between entering your password, before the system locked again and subsequent purchases required a password.

          The thieving gits with in-app purchases made use of this window by trying to get people (kids) to click on in-app purchases before the lock was in.

          Apple listened to complaints and changed it, so that in-app purchases now also require the password.

          But what is telling is their attitude to the class action lawsuit - they said that, because they had addressed the problem, they shouldn't be held accountable for the damage it cause. :-S

          That said, I do think it is the parents responsibility to educate their children and to a certain extent supervise them.

          It certainly worked for us.

      4. zen1

        Re: When will parents learn

        I can understand both arguments, but it all boils down to this, in my opinion:

        1) The guy is an idiot for not supervising such a young child, when using ANY internet accessible device.

        2) Apple are taking advantage of the legal sysem by, on one hand, encouraging developers to write such software, but on the other say it's not our problem.

        Personally I don't either party has clean hands in this and both should be smacked upside the head with a 2x4

      5. Anonymous Coward
        IT Angle

        Re: Do you have children?

        > Do you have children? Have you tried to 'educate' a child and tell them not to press this button or that switch? No? Didn't think so.... now get off your bleeding high horse and stop pretending you are Mr Perfect parent.

        Just who in their right mind lets a nine-year-old unsupervised on the Internet. The same kind of people who gives them a mobile phone to `keep an eye on them'?. It isn't Apples responsibility to keep your kids safe on the Internet.

        1. bob 46

          Re: Do you have children?

          How is allowing a child to play a game on your iPad the same as letting them on the internet unsupervised?

      6. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Re: When will parents learn

        Kids make mistakes, so it's pretty foolish to link your credit card to their iTunes account. Just like you probably wouldn't give your child a mobile phone on a contract.

        Anyone responsible would use iTunes vouchers. They would get through it so fast that alarm bells would ring.

      7. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: When will parents learn

        The key thing is that it's irresponsible for a parent to give their children a password that allows them to spend real money with just a click. Would you give your 10-year old child your credit card AND tell them the pin? Of course you wouldn't.

        On the other hand it seems like Apple only had the 'password required every time' control in place recently, and before that some purchases could be made without password, in which case I would say that Apple IS liable for some damages (though$5m is ridiculous, I would say that a refund of double the $$ spent without parental consent is around fair, would amount to a few hundred $ per person)

        I find the most worrying aspect to be the whole "free games that require real cash to play them properly and specifically targeted at kids" thing. It's certainly borderline unethical although not illegal, a bit like McDonald's Happy Meals*. I'd prefer to spend 20-30 quid on a real game that does not require top-ups than a game that requires real cash to buy virtual goodies.

        *Not facing this problem yet, but if a kid asked me for a Happy Meal I'd prefer to buy them a decent meal + a kinder egg

      8. Atonnis

        Re: Do you have children?

        I don't have children, but even I know that I wouldn't give my (or anyone else's) 9 year old child the password to any of my stuff - especially passwords that have access to charge my debit/credit cards.

        Christ, I wouldn't give my fiance my password, let alone a child. He got exactly what he asked for by doing a stupid thing.

        I do agree that the 'apps' (brr, hate that term) do peddle silly virtual shit for real money and people are dumb enough to fall for it, but I have little sympathy for a dumbass who gives out access to his finances to a child...or anyone for that matter.

        So get off your own high horse. Dumbass.

      9. sabba

        Re: When will parents learn

        I'm guessing you are one of those parents with feral children of their own!! "Not my fault governor. You can't expect me to control my own kids. It's just not fair!!"

      10. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When will parents learn

        Ahh the old Jeremy Kyle Defence "YEH DONT HAVE KIDS DO YAH" Didn't take long for that to pop up.

      11. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When will parents learn

        Yes I do, and there's no way they get my iTunes password. I suppose you give them your cash card and PIN and shoot them out the door or something.

        The guy's a f***wit, simple.

      12. Doug Glass

        Re: When will parents learn

        Yes I do. Yes i did. Yes it worked and now my daughter runs an 18 location sleep lab facility and my son is a helicopter pilot. Maybe you just need a little instruction in parental responsibilities and parenting in general.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When will parents learn

      True, I see these games all the time but do I download them? No,

      and why is that

      Simple, it's all about being responsible.

      I don't think this will go very far.

      1. Doug Glass

        "I don't think this will go very far"

        The freaks at said the same thing.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When will parents learn

      When will children start acting like adults?

    4. Bjorg

      Re: When will parents learn

      In this comment thread, I see one person that actually has a child, and four that don't (and it would seem haven't ever met or been a child). I notice the same thing among my friends. It's the ones without kids that don't understand why you can't keep an eye on *everything* each of your three kids is doing at all times, in addition to perfectly pre-screening (i.e. play the game yourself for several hours) everything your kids are about to do.

      The four of you that have no idea what you're talking about - when you start having kids - I want you to think back to these comments when they do something stupid, and you're not there to stop it, and remember it's entirely your fault.

      And don't think back to when you were a kid and did stupid things and it wasn't your parents fault, because that's WRONG.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: When will parents learn

        "In this comment thread, I see one person that actually has a child, and four that don't (and it would seem haven't ever met or been a child)."

        You do? I see very few clues on that subject. Perhaps you'd care to guess whether I have kids. Just to help you along, I feel oddly perturbed by a feeling of sympathy for Apple.

        1. Fibbles

          Re: When will parents learn

          There's some very bizarre logic being used here. I feel sympathy for parents, we all know that realistically you can't be vigilant 24/7 and that kids will do silly things. That said, if you turn your back for 5 minutes and little johnny does do something silly it's still your responsibility. Not because the rest of us expect you to have super-human parenting abilities but because they're your kids.

          I still think in app purchases in games aimed at young children should be banned though. There's no need to make parents' lives more difficult than they already are.

        2. Bjorg

          @Ken Hagan

          Okay, I'll bite. If I had to guess, I'd say you're not a parent, based on the fact that you don't see the obvious clues.

          One guy said he was a parent, and I believe him :).

          The others simply whined that the parent in the article should have been more responsible, which I *only* hear from 20-something non-parents that think they know everything until they have a kid and realize how incredibly difficult it is to keep tabs on them all the time. It's also incredibly difficult to sit your 9-year-old daughter down and tell her "Sorry, but I haven't had the opportunity to review every inch of this game that was billed as free by Apple - a large tech company that I trust with my financial details - and make sure there's no way you could purchase anything" when she's chomping at the bit to play it. You may not believe it when you see it on TV, but it does hurt when your daughter yells "You never let me have any fun, I hate you daddy!" and runs to her room.

          But now I have two new figures: based on my up/down votes, I'd day 10 people that read my comment are parents, and 12 aren't. My reasoning is that I don't know a single parent that would disagree with me and I don't know a single 20-something non-parent know-it-all that would agree.

          1. PaulW

            Kids own iPad

            I know I am in the minority here - but my 9yo daughter has her own iPad linked to my iTunes account. She knows to ask to download an app - even the already purchased ones - and double checks to purchase in-app credits. She is very good on this.

            **However** I know she is in the minority.

            That said though - on the iPad and other iDevices, there is a parental control setting to disable in-app purchases. Settings -> Restrictions -> In-App purchases. Its pass coded. Why wasnt that enabled?

            Makes me think there should be a test to have a smart device of any sort (including TVs where you can now rent movies too). If you have a device with a supported restriction - for crying out loud learn to use the restrictions!

            1. Andrew Moore

              Re: Kids own iPad

              Same as my 10 year old. Everytime she wants to add a new app to her iPod, she has to ask me to type in my iTunes password. This also allows me to see if the app is suitable for her age, and in one case stopped her from getting scammed on an in-app purchase.

          2. big_D Silver badge

            Re: @Ken Hagan

            "The others simply whined that the parent in the article should have been more responsible, which I *only* hear from 20-something non-parents"

            You are also hearing it from a 40-something parent!

            "but it does hurt when your daughter yells "You never let me have any fun, I hate you daddy!" and runs to her room."

            True, but on the other hand, they also learn responsibility for their actions, if you talk to them properly.

            I was babysitting for a friend and she sent her son to his room, just before she left. She just shouted at him and dragged him to his room and told him to stay there. Shortly after she left, he was still crying and shouting. I left the girls on the sofa and went up to him.

            I sat with him and asked him why he was crying. He was bored and wanted to play with his sisters. I then aked him, if he knew why he was in his room. He said no.

            I explained that it was because he had done something wrong (and I explained what he had done wrong). He said again, that it was boring. I said that was part of the punishment, that his grandparents had done the same to his mother, when she was his age, and that he would do the same to his children.

            He finally understood what was going on and accepted his punishment. He was quiet and as good as gold for the rest of the night.

            Parenting isn't about being the favourite all the time and it isn't about screaming at them, when they do something wrong. Sometimes you have to be hard on them; sometimes you have to trust them; but you always have to talk to them as equals and explain to them why you are doing something, even if it means they don't get what they want straight away!

            Good parenting isn't blaming other people for your failings as a parent or looking for scapegoats. Like everything else in life, good parenting relies on you taking responsibility for your actions and actually raising your children!

          3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: @Ken Hagan

            If you give in to your child every time she yells "You never let me have any fun, I hate you daddy!" then it is entirely your fault when the child grows up to be a hideously unpleasant adult with unrealistic expectations of entitlement. Just because it is harder to introduce boundaries to your child than not, does not mean that you shouldn't do it.

            You also fail quite hard for telling us that you trust Apple with your financial details.

            FWIW, I'm a thirty-something non-parent. Being part of that demographic obviously invalidates my viewpoint in your eyes, despite your somewhat biased argument that parents you know agree with you and are therefore right and people who aren't parents that you don't know disagree with you and are therefore wrong.

            To add another datapoint to that sample of yours, my parents are parents, and didn't shy away from telling me that I couldn't have everything I wanted. I grew up realising you have to work for things if you want them and didn't fail to reach adulthood.

          4. Anonymous Coward


            "You may not believe it when you see it on TV, but it does hurt when your daughter yells "You never let me have any fun, I hate you daddy!" and runs to her room."

            So what? You're her parent, not her friend. Being a parent means doing whats in their best interests even if their 9 year old brain can't yet understand why and doesn't like it. Also part of growing up is being told you can't do stuff and not liking it.

            And yes, I do have a kid.

          5. P. Lee

            Re: @Ken Hagan

            Gone are the days when the internet is just on the main computer. Every phone in the house has it.

            It gets worse. The rule is, "no electronic screens for the kids without my direct supervision." Then the teacher goes and tells the kids to do a project and get scour the internet for pictures and information for a project on cockatoos. What could possibly go wrong with that?

            I love my kids and take a keen interest in their schoolwork. However, I do not want to have to try to manage every click of the mouse and I don't want to monitor them full time in case they switch from typing text into a poster to using the progressive search in google.

            I tried f2p games on the PC. Horrid things. I'd rather pay a monthly sub. I was forever wondering if the game was trying to push me to buy things instead of being framed for my fun, which took the fun from it anyway.

            So now, I just say no. Its too hard to manage. No ipod, no tablet, no Mathletics, no computer, no games consoles, no tv which can tune into broadcast signals, no dvds which haven't been vetted, no dvds at unauthorised times (i.e. Sunday evening), even CDs (mostly gifts) have a habit of disappearing to the great storage cupboard in the sky if they aren't up to snuff.

            It turns out that you can live without all that stuff after all.

          6. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Ken Hagan

            I'm a parent, and I not only disagree with you, I think you're a BS artist who doesn't either have children or if they do, has no understanding of them.

            Children need limits on behaviour, and it's up to you as the parent to supply and enforce reasonable limits. If you can't explain why buying expensive virtual goods in a game is not allowed, perhaps you should consider adopting out for the childs sake.

            This is simple. First you can disable purchases in IOS as noted above; second don't give out your password, control their access (you give them free access to everything on the internet right ?), and third, have reasonable rules and enforce them.

        3. sisk

          Re: When will parents learn

          "You do? I see very few clues on that subject."

          Clue number one: these people think it's possible to know what children are doing every second of the day. Most people consider me a very aware parent, but my kids (1.5 and 4 years old) still occasionally manage to run off with my tablet (which they have to climb to get to) to watch Netflix when they've been told that they've watched enough TV for a while. Usually this happens while my wife and I are busy with such trivial matters as cooking, cleaning, and paying bills. Fortunately the debit card tied to my device never has any money on it unless I put it there specifically to buy something, so I haven't had the problem of them buying stuff. Not for lack of them trying, mind you.


          But hey, you're all right. We should just forget about everything else so that we can keep an eye of our kids every second of the day.


      2. JEDIDIAH

        Re: When will parents learn

        Consider this a fundemental design problem with iTunes. You're forced to provide payment information even if you have no intention of buying anything. Free content is muddled with adware and these micropayments. Any system where such micropayments can't be disabled across the board is just asking for this kind of trouble.

        It doesn't even have to be "misbehaving children". I personally don't want to end up "buying" something I didn't intend.

        You force people to be "in for a penny, if in for a pound" and you will create this kind of problem.

        It's entirely unnecessary.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When will parents learn

          > Any system where such micropayments can't be disabled across the board is just asking for this kind of trouble.

          What, you mean like the global "Settings | General | Restrictions | In-App Purchases" option which is protected by pincode and available on any device running iOS? /facepalm

          RTFM ...

          1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

            Re: When will parents learn

            The REAL problem is not that in-app purchases are enabled, but that they are enabled by default. You should not have to disable in-app[1] purchases to prevent them happening, you should have to enable them.

            SwineAir and the other low cost airlines got slapped down by the aviation regulators for switching on all the extras (insurance, priority boarding etc.) by default, this case is no different, it’s little more than a bait and switch scam.

            If crApple were truly concerned about the quality of their product then in-app(ropriate) purchases would be switched off by default. Does anybody know if crApple also skims 30% off the top for in-app(ropriate) purchases?

            Good luck to Garen Meguerian, I really hope he wins his case

            [1] short for inappropriate????????????

            Icon: Danger - pickpocket at work

        2. Nym O'Nonymous

          Re: When will parents learn

          >>You're forced to provide payment information even

          >>if you have no intention of buying anything.


          My children have iTunes accounts without any payment cards associated with them. They can download as many freemium apps as they like (and they do), but they can't spend a cent. If I'm feeling generous and they've been particularly efficient at sweeping chimneys or begging at traffic lights, I'll gift them £10 onto their accounts which they've quickly learnt that they can either pee away on in-game purchases or they can conserve and buy paid-for apps that are higher quality.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          not correct

          You are not forced to give Apple payment details for iTunes (admittedly they hide this fact well). I have never, and will never give them my payment details - as such I am happy to give my daughter the itunes password, knowing that she can download free pass only - and cannot make in-app purchases.

          I do believe that these apps are deliberately targetted to get kids to spend money though - which should be banned. It's like having adverts for a premium rate phone number/sms text during a (free to air) tv programme aimed at 9 year olds.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When will parents learn

          You DO NOT have to provide Payment information, I don't have any payemnt information associated with my apple account

        5. You have not yet created a handle

          Re: When will parents learn

          Not true.. My children each have their own iTunes account which I deposit £5 a month to automatically via the allowance option that iTunes provides.

          To set up the account initially you just need an iTunes card - NO CREDIT CARD NEEDED. when the money has run out they have to wait until the following month before they buy anything further - a great way for them to learn to manage money at the same time.

        6. shirokuma

          Re: When will parents learn

          You haven't created an Apple ID recently, have you? There is absolutely no need to provide credit card information or any other payment information to sign up for iTunes.

      3. Naughtyhorse

        Re: When will parents learn

        Maybe we understand the problems with dealing with children. hence dont have them. we are not that stupid

        you on the other hand seem to be 3 times as stupid as each of us. :-)

        Oh and btw when your kids grow up to be assholes with no boundaries. that will be your fault

        1. Neil Greatorex

          Re: When will parents learn

          "Arseholes with no boundaries"*

          Why did that make me suddenly think of goatse <shudder>

          *Note correct spelling.

        2. phear46

          Re: When will parents learn

          NH, as much as I agree with what you just said.. I'm gonna have to downvote you I think, you just can't say shit like that.... Well, like that...

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: When will parents learn


            i think i just did :-)

            then again i was incredibly badly parented, by the kind of eejits who thought my upbringing was everyone elses responsibility.

            hmmm, maybe that's where I'm coming from. stranger thing happen at sea.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Can you have...

          ...a hole with no boundaries? Wouldn't that just be 'space'?

      4. Franklin

        Re: When will parents learn

        "In this comment thread, I see one person that actually has a child, and four that don't (and it would seem haven't ever met or been a child). I notice the same thing among my friends. It's the ones without kids that don't understand why you can't keep an eye on *everything* each of your three kids is doing at all times, in addition to perfectly pre-screening (i.e. play the game yourself for several hours) everything your kids are about to do."

        Whether or not people have children is a distraction. It's a red herring argument, as though only folks who've had children can be excused for not taking common-sense measures to prevent this sort of thing. (Full disclosure: I do not have biological children myself. My girlfriend has an 11-year-old girl.)

        1. You can not watch what your kids do 24.7, that is true. You CAN, however, keep your app store password private. That gives you two advantages: it prevents your darling from draining your wallet, AND it lets you know what games and apps your kid is playing with, because you have to authorize purchases.

        Several folks have commented that free apps should be downloadable without a password. That's a terrible idea, because it removes one of the parents' tools for monitoring what apps their children are using. The fact that you need to use a password to download any app, even a free one, is a GOOD thing. If you actually take an interest in what apps your kid is downloading, that's a feature, not a bug.

        2. You can turn off in-app purchases. If this guy is so upset about in-app purchases, for fsck's sake, why didn't he just turn them off?

      5. fishman

        Re: When will parents learn

        To Bjorg:

        So, you assume that those that agree with you have kids, and those that don't agree, don't have kids - none of the posts above yours stated that they didn't have kids.

        I have two kids, and I've kept an eye on what they do - it's not that hard. And you don't have to pre-screen everything they do - it's easy to find reviews.

        BTW, I upvoted those you disagreed with, and downvoted the one you agreed with - before I saw your post.

      6. Aldous

        Re: When will parents learn

        or is it that people have made the choice not to have children because they want to spend their time doing something other then raising children? if your doing it right its a full time job in itself , sure you can't watch them 24 hours a day but here is the thing don't bitch when your caught out.

        we all got up to mischief as kids and either were corrected or not by parents/guardians in different ways. whats being said is if you are not prepared to do the pre-screening then don't let them use it. simple eh? just like why tv has a 9pm watershed if you let little billy stay up past 9 with a tv in his room then don't bitch when he watches "naked nuns shoot things and swear". don't campeign to ban violent video games (which have age certificates) because little billy took a bat to the grandma after playing GTA which the parents bought him "cos all the other kid have it and he whined until we did"

        need i go on? oh and sure i will look back on this when i have kids actually wait. i don't feel the need to spawn and so will be spending my free time doing whatever the hell i want without having to worry if little suzie is racking up a credit card bill

      7. shirokuma

        Re: When will parents learn

        I do have children and I let them use my iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. However, I have taken the time to educate all 3 of my children ages 7 to 16 about in-app purchases. Furthermore, I configured all of my devices to block in-app purchases. Additionally, I have created iTunes accounts for my children that is NOT associated with a credit card. Anyone can do this. It is not rocket science. Mac user can install the Apple Configurator and Mac and Windows users can both use the iPhone Configuration Utility, a free download from Apple to configure many different security settings on all iOS devices. There is no excuse for not protecting your children, your devices and yourself. Shame of that father for not learning more about the technology he puts into the hands of his child.

    5. Roadkill

      $5 million "damages" is unfair on Apple?

      Perhaps so, but you forget this is a class action lawsuit. That means that approximately $4,990,000 of the $5 million will go to the law firm representing the plaintiffs and each member of the class will receive a $0.49 iTunes Store credit.

      Furthermore, Apple may *actually wish* to settle, because a lawsuit that is granted class action status seriously abridges the rights of the class (ie. one must opt *out* instead of opting in). Therefore, if Apple settles this class action it should prevent any other suits like this from being raised in the US.

      "Oh, you're upset about in app billing too? Didn't you get your 49 cents that we deposited in your iTunes account that buys our way out of any future lawsuits about this unless you went through the onerous process to opt out of the class years ago? Great, all settled then! Have a nice day!"

    6. Vostor

      Re: When will parents learn

      but there is a valid point children dont always understand the value of money and apple know this..

      and there free apps used to piss me off when you say free it should be free.. thats the meaning of free! hell someone drops you a free bag of nuts you dont expect to pay for the bag or the service right you expect the "bag of nuts" to be free??

      anyways a bit of apple bashing makes a good cider where i come from so maybe this will help apple more than anything if not

      1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Re: When will parents learn

        It may be a valid point, but as a parent, surely you *should* be teaching your children the value of money? Otherwise you are leaving them open to all sorts of problems, and not just with Apple.

        On to the main subect.

        iOS already includes protection to stop unauthorised in app purchasing. First, it has the Apple ID and password. Second, you can set up a PIN on the device, then, using this PIN, you can restrict various things (including in app purchases). As such, had he bothered to do a little research (even a google search), he could have set his phone up so that even if he had given his daughter his Apple password, she could install whatever game she wanted and still been unable to make in-app purchases.

        But that would have involved taking responsibility for his daughter, and would have less potential profit for him.

    7. JBFromOZ

      Re: When will parents learn

      so it cost $200 to have the iOS device babysit his child, how long was the child babysat for, and what would the going rates for a babysitter be for the same period of time. I'm guessing he didn't find out til his next billing cycle, maybe a week or a month after allowing his child access to his credit card, but let's say 10 days, $20 a day seems pretty cheap for babysitting...

    8. David Cantrell

      Re: When will parents learn

      A better question is "when will parents *re*learn" that their childrens' little misdemeanours are their responsibility.

      It's true that parents can't stop their kids from doing any stupid things, but what's different now from when I were a lad is that back then my parents took responsibility. They didn't look for third parties to blame. They could have smothered me in supervision and not let me out to play (and steal, and vandalise) on my own to prevent me from doing many of the stupid things I did, but they decided it was better to allow me some freedoms - and to punish me when I screwed up.

      Well, this geezer seems to think (and he may be right) that his kids are better off if allowed a little bit of freedom to play without him looking over their shoulders all the time. He has to accept the risks that come with granting that freedom to people who are fundamentally irresponsible.

      1. thejulianevans

        Re: When will parents learn

        It seems to me that this argument has relatively little to do with irresponsibility, either on the children's part or he parents'. The way these offers are framed by iTunes and Apple is merely a new version of the tried and tested gambit of selling drugs to schoolchildren. It's that easy, and that reprehensible.

  2. CrimsonAvenger

    Nope, no sympathy. Just like these idiots who go abroad and then moan about big data bills. If it's her phone, more fool you, she's bloody nine. If it's yours, why are you letting her use it? Why does she have the password?

    An iPod touch would be much better if she absolutely had to have something. But giving a nine year old any type of phone is ridiculous.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My 10 year old has had a phone for a couple of years now

      He has a hand me down N95 - _NO_ _GAMES_ _WHATSOF***EVER_ since he was 9. It is a phone he can use in an emergency and we can use to get to him. He also knows how to use google maps, navigation and how to get to a specific point if he has to.

      As a result I could let him and his 3 year old sister roam free on a holiday last week around the whole square mile or so of the holiday complex, chase peacocks, cats and other wildlife and play free. I could get to him at any time and he could get to us at any time. He also got at least some sense of how the world looked like before cretinous nanny state imbeciles from the "grow children in a glasshouse" societies made it a crime to give a 10 year old any responsibility.

      It has been extremely handy when traveling too. It takes less than 3 seconds in downtown Paris or Prague for 10 people to get inbetween you and the kid and you cannot really put a 10 year old on a leash (or in my opinion you should not). And so on.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: My 10 year old has had a phone for a couple of years now

        Oh how the mighty have fallen. Once upon a time an N95 was a pricey piece of premium kit.

        It's interesting how expectations have changed - kids used to roam free like that long before mobile phones.

        One thing I do know is that most parents hate retailers using their kids as a marketing lever. Parents have a hard enough time as it is without additional nagging from offspring. McDonalds got so good at it they're not allowed to advertise to children anymore in the UK. Freemiumware is a whole lot worse.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My 10 year old has had a phone for a couple of years now

          Quote: Oh how the mighty have fallen. Once upon a time an N95 was a pricey piece of premium kit.


          Most families have a few of these "once was pricey piece of premium kit" and handing them down to junior is one of the best uses for them (after a thorough factory level wipe).

          1. bazza Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: My 10 year old has had a phone for a couple of years now

            "Most families have a few of these "once was pricey piece of premium kit" and handing them down to junior is one of the best uses for them (after a thorough factory level wipe)."

            Completely agree with that :) In my case I just hope that I'd have learnt enough about the mobile so as to be able to fend off the barrage of technical questions that would no doubt flood my way. Not so difficult with a 6310i, a touch harder with the N95...

            1. Danny 14

              Re: My 10 year old has had a phone for a couple of years now

              Very similar. My daughter (11) has an LG GW620 on prepay. She gets a voucher per month. I remember cycling from wigan to manchester (some parts along the east lancs road too!) when I was 11 - obviously my parents had no idea I was ranging this far - but I had no issues. I knew the value of money from my paper round.

              I do let my daughter have freedome to some extent (probably not the same as I had growing up) so children can be trusted *if* that trust is built up slowly. This lawsuit is foolish, the chap didnt have to give his daughter his password. She should have had their own itunes account. That is where it gets interesting as you need a fair amount of nonce to have functioning devices with multiple itunes accounts syncing the "family" music to various devices.

              1. Aqua Marina

                @Danny 14

                Ditto. I'm 38 now, but at 10 I was catching the 35 Express bus from Leigh to Manchester for the princely sum of 10p, (or a point off my "Clippercard") to go spend my pocket money in the (old version) Arndale. I had no problems, my parents had no problems. 28 years later and the state the worlds in now, there's no way I'd let my 10 year old take a bus, well pretty much anywhere on his own. Sad state of affairs really!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had similar experience...

    Bought a fun game for my son so he could play on my phone - he knows not to go to the market place and buy stuff himself. However, within the game I didn't realise you could level up quicker buy purchasing credits using real money on daddy's credit card!! He obviously had no comprehension of this and happily bought stuff.. fortunately not much.

    My fault for not 'vetting' the app properly but as it's aimed at kids I assumed it would be ok... Lesson learn't. Also, good trick is to disable the wifi and put it in aeroplane mode, just in case.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Had similar experience...

      My fault for not 'vetting' the app properly but as it's aimed at kids I assumed it would be ok...

      Maybe once upon a time, a long time ago, but these days it seems that when a smartphone game is advertised as "aimed at children", that means it's a warning label.

    2. Lost in Cyberspace

      Re: Had similar experience...

      Same here. I remember when in app purchases first became available - I didn't know about them at the time. Downloaded a free app for my daughter to play on her iPod and within 15 minutes she had used £17 credit and run up a debt of £43 on her iTunes account - yes a debt.

      I figured that her account was just prepay and didn't think for one moment that Apple/Clicknbuy would try to take money from an expired credit card I used several years earlier to verify the iTunes account.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Had similar experience...

      "My fault for not 'vetting' the app properly but as it's aimed at kids I assumed it would be ok... "

      You don't have to say that it's your fault. Remember that these companies are out to screw as much money as possible from your credit card by any means possible. Currently it is legal for them to exploit the natural tendencies of your children, so they naturally have gone for that technique in a very big and profitable way. They're not the first industry sector to do that, and they won't be the last either.

      Saying that it's your fault is absurd brand loyalty. Where is their loyalty to you, hmm? If they too really had your best interests at heart why don't they implement a scheme along the following lines?

      Suppose freemium applications like this came with a partner app that a parent could have on their own phone. Every time little Johnny hits the buy button on his phone the app on the parent's phone would go beep and ask the parent it that would be OK. Simple to do and gives the parent complete control, every family member is (mostly) happy.

      So why have the phone and app companies not done that? Surely they're imaginative people who've already thought along these lines and could see a way of implementing it for very little effort? Surely the technology to do this is a trivial matter in these days of instant data comms anywhere in the world?

      Could it be because they know that it would result in less income for them? They would naturally be reluctant to even suggest that such an idea might be possible for fear that parents might start demanding it. Hell, maybe even the slow moving ass that is the law could get changed so as to require it. Disaster!

      Brand loyalty, huh. Sell shiny, get whole bank accounts in return. It's a lot more rewarding than the accompanying fawning of bedazzled customers. They must be sniggering behind their backs all the way to other people's banks.

      BTW I've no kids, so not a problem for me. I've written this for free out of the kindness of my own heart.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Had similar experience...

        Sorry, but he is right, it is his fault, for not checking.

        He isn't the only one at fault and the real culprits should be strung up by their short and curlies, but it was his phone and his child, so he should have checked first.

        That said, it was bad of Apple to let a pre-pay account go overdrawn!

        Regardless of who is at fault, law makers, Apple, app developers, the parent and owner of the phone also have to take some responsibility.

  4. NightFox

    Much as I hate these 'Bait' apps, this is another depressing instance of adults abdicating their parental responsibilities to Apple (or whoever).

    At least this could never happen in a British court:

    Prosecution: "...huge bucketfuls of Smurfberries"

    Justice Frottingham-Smythe: "???"

  5. Pen-y-gors

    No sympathy for either side.

    Apple should have their arse nailed to the wall: the game is for a child. Children cannot have a credit card. Therefore the game has no justification for 'in-game' purchasing of any sort, even if Mummy or Daddy are daft enough to let Junior know the password.

    But also parents are pillocks for not keeping a closer eye on things.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: No sympathy for either side.

      Oh look, 2 seconds in a search engine brings up these results. Short answer: RTFM. The facility to disable in-app payments (among many other things) is already built right into iOS.

      1. iOS devices are single-user devices. That's how they're designed. If you give a device with YOUR details on it, the onus is on YOU to secure it and prevent unauthorised interactions.

      2. It's piss-easy to set up restrictions on ANY iOS device, as the link above proves.

      Ergo, any parent not using such restrictions when giving their child access to an expensive, multi-hundred-dollar piece of consumer electronics with built-in internet access and credit card details linked to it, is, quite simply, an ignorant imbecile and fully deserves everything they get.

      Apple have no valid reason to unilaterally ban in-app payments in kids' software: some kids have very wealthy parents and I'm sure you don't mind if Apple relieve said parents of some of their disposable income. Why should their precious little saint of a daughter, Quentina, not be allowed to play her game of MoneyTreeVille on her shiny new iPad?

    2. SleepyJohn

      Little sympathy for either side, but least for Apple.

      Inclined to agree up to a point. It is very easy to criticise parents in a situation like this, but if Apple is deliberately using children in order to make money out of the imperfection of their parents then yes, they should 'have their arse nailed to the wall'.

      I wish I were a perfect parent. My daughter knows my PIN number because she stands next to me in the shop. She knows my credit card number because she has eyes. And I want her to face decisions and learn to make them rather than have reality locked away. And I do not want her feeling I don't trust her.

      So, personally, I hope Apple gets nailed over this, as I have no truck with any organisation that cynically preys on the weakness of others, especially children. This is quite clearly not a straightforward case of "Dad, can I buy this game for ten pounds?".

  6. Wyrdness

    In-app purchases can be disabled by going Settings->General->Restrictions and setting In-App purchases to Off.

    A lot of kids apps do seem to have in-app purchases, so I've disabled them to stop my 3 year old from buying anything by mistake.

    1. phear46

      I got half way down the comments before reading this, all the people on here claiming that people should look after their kids better should have posted what this guy did, instead of being a c*nt. Also, I don't have kids.

      Wyrndness, you seem to be the smartest commentard around. Congratulations.... I think!

      1. leexgx

        what should happen is You Should Not need your Debit or credit card to make an account on the Ipad/iphone, why do they require your details if your only going to be using free apps from the start(Android can do it I Hope Windows Phone Market is like Android Market way)

        Free Apps should not require your Password to install

        1. Allan George Dyer

          Trading Standards?

          Ieexgx, you make me think Apple should be in breach of trading descriptions laws by calling it a smartphone... it should be described as "a device for debiting money from your credit card, that also can make phonecalls"

        2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

          You don't need a credit or debit card to make an account..

          You haven't for several years. My sister inherited my iPhone a couple of years back, and she doesn't have any credit or debit cards.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "In-app purchases can be disabled by going Settings->General->Restrictions and setting In-App purchases to Off."

      And is there anything other than ignorance stopping offspring going Settings->General->Restrictions and setting In-App purchases to On?

      I genuinely don't know, I don't have an iPhone.

      1. LoopyChew

        Yes--when you enable restrictions, you need to set a four-digit passcode to be used when you make changes later.

        The other thing that should be done, I believe, is to never give a credit card number to any services which provide their own "wallet." Purchasing gift cards and redeem codes means a much more limited amount of cash that can be spent. Someone cracked my account last year but only spent the $20 I had in it on random in-game currencies instead of however much they could have milked from my credit card; the same thing can be done for kids by giving them one gift card (with maybe $10) and creating an iTunes account with that.

        This also has the added bonus of teaching kids the (very) basic concepts of financial responsibility by limiting their purchase choices. To be sure, it's not budget balancing, but at least they'll get the idea that sometimes you have to evaluate what you want more because you can't have it all, even if the money doesn't exist in "real life."

  7. JimmyPage Silver badge

    *Slight* sympathy ....

    apps are getting more and more crafty at teasing credit card details out of people ... usually under the guise of "age verification".

  8. Jonathan Bliss

    It would be good if it made developers behave better

    I'm tired of buying bait apps that are not obviously such. If it is free fine but I have a couple where I have paid for the app and it turns out not really to be playable without purchases. You have to check on the reviews and top in app purchases to get an idea.

    While I'm not entirely happy that a parent can delegate their responsibility to Apple I do hope something makes them label the apps properly.

    e.g. Labels are

    No in app purchases available.

    In app purchases enhance app experience but usable without.

    Unplayable without in app purchases.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop with the "try parenting" comments

    Nowhere is anyone saying that these kids have their own iPhone but many kids borrow their parents iPhone/pod/pad in order to play games. They are a good way to distract a child for a couple of hours. These games are a menace, but there is the ability to turn off in-app purchases (now? not sure if has been there long). Another alternative is buy the kid their own ipod/pad and tie to an AppleID that doesn't have a CC.

    Those people who will then jump in with "blah you should engage with your child" or "you should always watch what your child is doing" need to fuck off. Or have children. Or borrow some. Sometimes parents have other things to do and actually can't spare the time.

    What Apple really needs to do however is to make the iOS a multi-user OS. That way you wouldn't need one device per person, you just switch profiles.



    1. Charles 9

      Re: Stop with the "try parenting" comments

      There's also the possibility of the kid being precocious and capable of figuring out Daddy's password and certain other details by discretely looking over his shoulder or whatever. In this fast-paced society, there are times when the kids can outsmart the parents because they know more about the tech in the devices. I know when I was 10 I had a better handle on how to program a VCR, and that was just for starters.

      1. Hayden Clark Silver badge

        Re: Stop with the "try parenting" comments

        And indeed - it is entirely possible that parents just don't know how to use all of the features of these devices. Remember - it's an iPhone, it "just works". Most ordinary folks just read enough of the manual to get going, then just actually use the devices.

        All this "follow the maze of twisty menus, all alike" stuff is just TL;DR to most people.

        So, I'm with the parent - shiny-shiny free app that looks like it is suitable for a kid (and 30 seconds over-the-shoulder doesn't reveal anything that a parent normally looks for - unmoderated chat, sweary stuff, unsuitable images, etc) you let them enjoy. The in-app purchase stuff is quite clearly a booby-trap.

  10. LinkOfHyrule

    I wouldn't be surprised if in ten years time here in the UK, the government or maybe the EU decides to deregulate paid-for the in game item market. Forget paying 4.99 for 50 Smurf berries, you can now buy 75 Tesco own brand Smurf berries for only 2.99!

    Wouldn't surprise me at all if that sort of crazy crap happened as these in game purchases will probably be considered actual tangible "things" by then if they are not already.

    We live in crazy times! I'm going to set myself up as a Smurf berry trader in the City. Mines the blue one with the red hat.

    1. LinkOfHyrule

      Not deregulate duh.... open it up to competition, whatever, I don't know, I post on the Register comments section for crying out loud I cant be expected to know what I'm actually talking about!

    2. Fibbles

      Your post brought a smile to my face until my thoughts meandered off and I wondered how long it'd be before some sort of virtual object tax was applied to in app purchases. I imagine it to be conjured up by some MP with no clue about technology and therefore the amount of tax applied is based on the perceived weight of the virtual object in the virtual world. Oh, and if it's coated in virtual chocolate it becomes a 'cyber-luxury' and will cost you extra.

      1. LinkOfHyrule

        You've got a great point! Pixel-pasty-gate they will call it! The Prime minister will make a fool of himself when he's caught out claiming to have brought a virtual pasty in Second Life only to be told that "game" dosnt exist any more having been acquired by FaceYahoogleMicroSonyAppleCorp and closed down to make way for more Smurf berry servers!

  11. Dinky Carter


    This style of purchase inducement in kids' apps provides a dangerously easy route for children to quite unwittingly cause their parents, and therefore maybe themselves, considerable distress. Even a nine year old will feel bad about having drained a parent's credit card inadvertently. And if that parent is an idiot, perhaps some admonishment might follow. It's as if Apple cared more about cash than the well-being of the children who use their devices to play kids' games.

    >Much as I hate these 'Bait' apps, this is another depressing instance of adults abdicating their parental responsibilities to Apple (or whoever).<

    Total bollocks.

    1. Tilting_at_windmills

      Re: Dangerous

      Never store your CC on the phone - always buy the Itunes cards for online redemption.

      Call me paranoid - but it preserves my particular brand of sanity.

      1. leexgx

        Re: Dangerous

        i thought it not let you us the app store unless you have an Card linked to the account?

      2. Charles 9

        Re: Dangerous

        Most places I know won't let you use a card to buy a card (the technique is used for money laundering), and if the card is pure credit rather than a debit card, taking out a cash advance to buy the card results in the inflated interest rate.

    2. Neil Greatorex

      Re: Dangerous

      "It's as if Apple cared more about cash"

      No shit Sherlock, they've never cared about anything else, ever.

      1. Dinky Carter

        Re: Dangerous

        >no shit

        I was being rhetorical / ironic, Sherlock.

  12. mark 63 Silver badge

    is it still a game if you pay for more ammo?

    I think video games started going downhill when "insert 10p to continue" arrived in the arcades!

    After that home video games arrived and its taken from then till now for them to start draining cash on a per game basis, or a during-game basis

    'cept for these newfangled online dungeons and dragons malarky of course

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This isn't a parenting issue

    Ugh, this isn't a case of parental negligence, which irritates me as much as anyone - this is about apps that are clearly masquerading as games for children but with mechanics more akin to scratchcards or fruit machines. Their sole purpose is to pry as much cash from the user as possible while providing the minimum entertainment necessary to keep them interested. When looked at in the context of how we moderate other forms of children's entertainment, these should really be regulated or age restricted, with penalties for marketing that appeals to children.

    Yes, if parents had been more vigilant they could have prevented their kids running up exorbitant bills, but on the other hand the games are misleading by design (advertised as "free" when they clearly aren't). Really, this is like letting your kids watch CBeebies then discovering they've been running a premium phone service akin to Babestation between cartoons.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two observations.

    These applications are created this way by design, the developers (and Apple) want you to pay them over and over again and don't care that they are targeted at children that cannot enter in to a contact to purchase in app or out of app.

    To those saying parents should work out whether the app is going to request in app purchases, the shite is aimed at kids, do you really want to wade through the childish shite to find out if you're going to be ripped off in each and every app downloaded? If it's aimed at kids it shouldn't need them to make purchases they are not legally entitled to do.

    Have do done yet.... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... have you done yet... OK son I think it's OK to play it.

    1. Franklin
      Thumb Down

      "To those saying parents should work out whether the app is going to request in app purchases, the shite is aimed at kids, do you really want to wade through the childish shite to find out if you're going to be ripped off in each and every app downloaded?"


      Nor is it necessary. You simply switch off in-app purchases and the problem is solved.

      1. leexgx

        but the kid will just turn it back on if they know the password

        1. Franklin

          "but the kid will just turn it back on if they know the password"

          The iTunes password and the password to change in-app purchases (and other system settings) are two separate things. Frankly, I don't think it's a terribly bright idea to give either one of them to one's darling child.

          1. Danny 14

            and if your autistic kid is happy to sit brute forcing the 4 digit code then simply unlink your CC

  15. Bunglebear
    Thumb Down


    While I sympathise with Apple slightly in that a credit card enabled phone given to a 9 year old is asking for trouble (would you give your kid your wallet and pin numbers? No, neither would I) Apple do operate a walled garden, and as such have some measure of resposibility for what goes on within that garden.

  16. Elmer Phud


    Bloody hell I'm feeling old so soon.

    It doesn't seem that long ago when this was all about Facebook or similar.

    The credit card companies (or someone) need to release an app where you can prevent this from happening - it shouldn't be too hard.

  17. Armando 123

    I sympathize, but ...

    ... because our credit cards are at risk, and other parental type reasons, we set our kids' iphones and ipods to require a password that WE have for ANY purchase. We also told them about in-app purchases: if they accidentally do make a purchase to come to us. If they hide it, they're in trouble. If they didn't realize it, we invoke the "if you can't handle it you can't have it" Clause of the Geneva Parenting Convention of 1973. (Works a treat with things like knives, axes, and my tools that do not get put back in the toolbox.)

    Personal responsibility: it's not the government's job. In fact, they really hate it.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No kid of mine would ever have a device with itunes on it. Much less a device with iTunes that had credit card access.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bill you and Melinda really are mean to your kids with your anti-Apple stance and you are giving all your ill-gotten gains away leaving none for them.

      Won't someone please think of their children!

      - Monkey Boy

  19. Fred 4

    I dont see anyone mentionng

    that Apple did not design the game. Some 3rd party iOS developer designed the game, built the game, setup the in app purchase process etc etc etc.

    All Apple - probably - did was make sure that the application did NOT do things like get out of its sandbox, collect/send personal data where it shouldn't, and of course make sure that Apple got it's piece of any in game sales.

    Nowhere in the article or in these comments do I see anyone pointing at the developer and saying - shame on you - here is *your* class action suit. In the comments there are some vague references to the developer but not specifically, just generically.

    Par-runt is just trying to get $ for free (aka lottery winnings)

    Flames because Im sure I get a few....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I dont see anyone mentionng

      Lets remember a few things here:

      1) Apple took on the responsibility of vetting apps. Since they are making a profit off of both having the app, and its purchases, they have a responsibility to protect their customers.

      2) I'm give the benefit of the doubt that most of regs commentator's are techies, geeks, or some various combination of the two. You average apple customer is no long the hipster color crayon market. My 80 year grandma has an iPhone.

      I think the suit is stupid or at least the asking price is overblown then I remember this is Apple we are talking about they don't mind being in the middle of stupid suits. I am rooting for the guy more for the idea that some concept of regulation will be imposed on preditory habbits like this.

      1. Neil Greatorex

        Re: I dont see anyone mentionng

        "off of"

        Stop it right now.

        1. TheRealRoland

          Re: I dont see anyone mentionng

          Well, being an ESL speaker, always interested in this:


          It fell off of the lorry

          It fell off the lorry

          could be used to explain where the stolen goods came from.

          The second could however be interpreted as a part of the lorry fell off, where the first is more correct if it is something the lorry was carrying.


          But, also this:

          Search for 'off of'.

          Anyways, on-topic: App settings post rules them all. Problem solved. Nothing to see. Walk along now.

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: I dont see anyone mentionng

            I don't mind "out of", or possibly "off from", but I'd rather you didn't say "off of". But maybe that's just me being a native speaker. I've heard linguists say that ESL has a distinct grammar, even to the extent that native speakers find themselves at a disadvantage in a largely ESL group.

            And anyhoo, like most English speakers, I've no objection to people who speak English as a second language making what *I* regard as grammatical errors, coz frankly their "bad" English is a whole lot easier for me to understand than their own language.

  20. bitten

    falling apple

    If I remember right (summer 2010) on an ipad you need the same password to update an app and to download a free app as to use or abuse your credit card. Was there not an os with the same mindset, where you need to be administrator to make an application run?

  21. DrXym

    Sue Google too

    These "free" games are a bane on the service. Not only are they not free but they're filled by idiot commenters boosting the game with 5 star ratings to boost their affiliate codes.

    Any game with in-game content should instantly attract a 12-rating and anything with affiliate codes should permit ratings but disable comments.

  22. Right In The Balls

    Another Loser Dad

    A loser dad with loser kids.

    There's a sucker born every minute and he and his kids are both suckers and losers. Crawl back under the rock you crawled out from.

  23. Mike 16

    Is it still a game...


    That would be about 1978, IIRC, with "Atari Football". First game I ever saw with "pay to continue" as opposed to "pay for another game". Worked a treat, as the player currently losing would often pay up in the hopes of reversing the situation. But if the world has been going downhill since then, why aren't at bottom yet?

    I blame the Lydians. No money -> nobody stealing your money. And it's darn hard to pass a sheep over an SSL connection.

  24. jubtastic1

    No sympathy

    I've got four kids, they don't get the password for the credit card, just recently one of them wanted to download Temple Run, which is free, she argued, she begged, she pleaded, she tantrumed, she had to wait until she brought the phone home so I could add the game. This is for the very simple reason that it would be ridiculously irresponsible of me, on a number of levels, to give a child free reign on a credit card.

    Remember when your phone asked if you wanted it to remember your purchase password for you?

    That was a test, if you answered in the affirmative you failed, do try and learn from it because fools and their money testing is ongoing.

    1. Benjamin 4

      Re: No sympathy

      I agree. If it's that important then some banks allow children as young as 11 to have debit cards. Set one up, pay their pocket money into the bank and then it's their own money they're wasting. After a couple of months of quickly running out of money and being broke for the rest of the month they'll quickly change their ways.

  25. Mike Flugennock

    Yeah, maybe this guy shouldn't have given his kid the password...

    ...but that doesn't let game makers -- or Apple -- off the hook for exploiting children with "free" games. Just because the guy made a mistake doesn't mean it's OK for smartphone game hucksters to fleece him. I hope he kicks Apple's ass until it bleeds.

    1. Franklin

      Re: Yeah, maybe this guy shouldn't have given his kid the password...

      "Exploiting children"? Did you seriously just make a "somebody think of the chiiiiildren" argument?

  26. John A Blackley

    I'm with Apple on this one

    If you don't want your kids spending your cash, don't give them your iTunes password.

    Or, if you're that stupid, don't have kids.

    1. DrXym

      Re: I'm with Apple on this one

      The flip side is that Apple is deceptively marketing apps aimed at kids for "free" when in fact they are deliberately designed to incentivize kids to make real world purchases. Given that Apple has such tight control of how apps are approved and presented they really cannot pretend that there is nothing they could do to warn parents or protect kids from excessive spending.

      1. GotThumbs

        Re: I'm with Apple on this one

        "deceptively marketing apps towards children" ????

        Try actively. Refer to Iphone/Sprint advert..."who would want to limit the Iphone"

      2. John A Blackley

        Re: I'm with Apple on this one

        Paedophiles also deliberately target kids.

        So if a parent lets their child 'go for a walk' with a paedo, it's only the paedo to blame, right?

    2. GotThumbs

      Re: I'm with Apple on this one

      Apple and AT&T specifically push the use of the iphone by your children. Just refer to the "who wants to limit the Iphone" advertisement. That specifically shows a small child quietly playing on and Iphone while the parent works in the background on 'something more important than their child'. This ad subliminally communicates to any parent...give your iphone to your child...and you'll have a few minutes of peace and quiet.

      Apple is feeding this kind of use...yet claims ignorance when called out on it. Yes, I think this lawsuit is a bit much, but I think APPLE HAS IT COMING. They are the biggest abuser of lawsuits currently, so Karma Baby.


      1. GotThumbs

        Re: I'm with Apple on this one

        Sorry. It's Sprint that has the child.


      Re: I'm with Apple on this one

      "Or, if you're that stupid, don't have kids."

      Unfortunately, stupidity and likelihood of having children are directly proportional.

    4. Stuart Gepp
      Paris Hilton

      Re: I'm with Apple on this one

      Unfortunately, <insert deity of your choice> is also in on the act.

      There's this thing you can do with another player which seems like an awful lot of fun and you feel compelled to do it. However, 9 months later the bill arrives and by then its too late.

      If you find it hard not to hand out access to your credit card, you have almost no hope of resisting this urge.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Experience is the best teacher

    It's simply careless to hand over adult responsibilities to children, at least before they fully understand the consequences of their choices. Children are obviously immature, and need to be guided to a clearer understanding of themselves and the wider world. Sometimes the best way to teach is to hand over limited responsibility to allow actions and consequences to be tested. We gave our children limited amounts of money on their devices to spend in any way they liked. If they quickly blew it all on poor selections (and then had nothing to spend for some time) they quickly learned to think far harder the next time they received another allowance.

    The beauty of this process is that we help them to become responsible for their own decisions without passing judgements or being harsh. All it took was limited first-hand experience of the way the world works. But simply hand over unlimited financial resources and then blaming someone else for the ensuing disaster sends all the wrong messages.

  28. Keep Refrigerated


    Is this not akin to taking your child to the supermarket, telling them they can go and pick one toy; but because you can't be bothered to go to the toy department with them (and don't know how much the toys are worth) you hand over your wallet and send them off whilst you do the shopping?

    Then when you find little Johnny/Janice has spent $500 on toys, you sue the supermarket.

    Here's a parenting tip, try spending some time with your child at play, supervise their use of the phone/tablet. If you don't have time and need to leave them alone then give them some paper and crayons, a lego project, or some physical game or activity to do - until you do have the time - to play together on the shiny.

    Guess what, children have great imagination! They'll make a spaceship or a robot out of a cardboard box (my nephew's latest creation). It could be argued that babysitting them with an iPhone causes them to lose that imagination, instead training them to be nothing more than good little wallets.

    For all those infuriated iParents commenting on this thread, I have no idea how you were raised but I was raised in a time when mobile phones were only a sparkle in Martin Cooper's eye. I survived on my imagination and so will your little fart.

    But what do I know, I don't have kids so I don't have the parenting certificate that pops out with the placenta.


      Re: iBabysitter

      > Is this not akin to taking your child to the supermarket.

      No. It's akin to given them a Nintendo DS.

      If it is any more dangerous than that then perhaps the "curator" isn't doing their job properly.

      Apple has displaced Microsoft as innovator of harmless things being made dangerous in new and interesting ways.

      1. Tieger

        Re: iBabysitter

        >> Is this not akin to taking your child to the supermarket.

        >No. It's akin to given them a Nintendo DS.

        no it isnt.

        if you choose to give your kids your credit card details (or the password to an account that has them saved) then you deserve all you get.

        will he be launching a class action law suit against amazon because his kid can log into it and order lots of shit to be delivered because he left auto-login turned on?

        if parents cba looking after their kids then a) dont have them. or b) accept that there will be other costs involved instead of the time-cost.

        i appreciate that people dont like freemium stuff*, and enjoy their apple-bashing, but come on - at least try and find legitimate things to whine about...

        * that said, theres a lot of good 'freemium' stuff out there too, i wouldnt want to get rid of it as a concept just because some people are silly enough to hand account details to a kid who doesnt understand what they're doing.

    2. SleepyJohn

      Re: iBabysitter

      NO. This is more akin to them picking a toy out of a box marked FREE TOYS FOR CHILDREN then you discover when your wife gets home that she was charged a tenner at the checkout for enabling the toy to be used. Would you berate her for being an awful parent, because this was explained somewhere upside down at the back of the shop in 1point white cursive script on pale yellow, and accept that the shop behaved perfectly responsibly? Or would you demand a full refund and apology or you will never shop there again? With copies to local papers and your solicitor.

      PS: If your children are to live in the 21st Century and not the 19th then I think playing with a smartphone is likely to be more use to them than playing with a cornflake packet.

  29. Mectron

    how do you think

    Apple makes its billions? yup with scam ware aimed at kid. it is child abuse PERIOD. anything other then a fews billions in fines

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Re: how do you think

      Man the kids in the playground must have teased you something rotten.

      What with you having an ass for a hat and all

      and such a big hat too.


  30. Old Handle


    For anybody who's got one of these iGadgets, how obvious is it when you're about to make an in app purchase? Asking for the password is good, but to a less experienced user (e.g. a child) that alone doesn't make it obvious.

    1. Euchrid

      Re: Question

      It's very clear that you're buying something. There are three basic steps:

      1) Select the in-app purchase. From every option for this I've seen (whether the app is free or not), the purchase is very clearly labelled as a purchase and how much it costs - and I'm sure this is mandatory.

      2) Once selected, there's a pop-up message saying what the item is, that it costs money and what the price is and asked you to confirm that you want to buy. In order to proceed, you have to click 'yes'

      3) Enter the password.

      As an aside, there's a Jaws game and you get acquire 'free coins' through a variety of ways, including some like getting an Experian credit report or free Vistaprint business, were the developer is getting a referral fee and I've found that more objectionable than the in-app purchases.

      1. Old Handle

        Re: Question

        I see. That's the real crux of it IMHO. It sounds like Apple has done all that can reasonably be required of them. There are still some things that would make it better for parents, like an option to add separate password just for payments, so they can they can easily permit kids to everything but that. But I don't see any negligence on their part.

        Yes the whole thing is slimy, but not I think in any way illegal. Concerned parents could likely better spend their time publicly shaming Apple about this, in the hopes of getting those apps taken out of the market instead of trying to sue.

  31. GotThumbs

    Suck it Apple

    Do I think this is a frivolous law suit? Yes, I do.

    An IPhone, or any other smart phone is NOT supposed to be a toy. But Apple and AT&T push that it their ads. For example, the advert showing an innocent/quite child, playing on an IPhone, while the parent sits in the background...working on whatever....and the words 'why would you want to limit the iPhone'.

    Apple LOVES it when this kind of purchasing practice occurs, because they are getting money from every direction. Don't be so naive.

    Since Apple has adopted the position of suing over every little thing....Karma BABY!


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Suck it Apple

      Apple has no advert like that. Here's the iPhone ads:

      Maybe you've confused the Samsung ad with Apple's? It's OK if you got confused, Samsung copied the same style and even hired the same girl.

  32. Adrian Barnett
    Thumb Down

    If only IOS had parental controls to prevent this sort of thing from happening. Oh wait, it does.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: parental controls

      Actually, I think this is a red herring. If the parent doesn't know about the parental controls but does know that they've given their CC details to the device, the parent should not give the device to a child without constant supervision.

      It's like your wallet, except that it doesn't run out so quickly. Why in the name of fsck would you give such a thing to a child and then look the other way? I just don't understand.

      Oh, and in case anyone is curious, it turns out I do have children and about ten minutes ago I just explained to my 11-year-old why I won't sign him up for websites whose T&Cs require you to be over 12. This task really isn't as difficult as some of the child-free population seem to think. It results in about two minutes of disappointment, after which time the attention span runs out and he finds himself wasting his life away in some other non-improving fashion. I think that's what being 11 is for.

  33. Gannon (J.) Dick


    The games are obviously targeted at adults with the mental capacity of a 9 year old, and fortunately are heirs to large fortunes so that their guardians say "Oh, why not ?"

    Can Apple produce this person ? Why not ?

    Hamelin doesn't need a Pied Piper if it has no rats ...

  34. Mark 108


    The moron should be prevented from breeding further in the interest of society.

  35. Adam Foxton

    Rather than free

    couldn't he just sue for actual damages (they'll be neatly logged in his iTunes account, I imagine) and have Apple enforce a new naming convention? Call them Freemium. Jobs himself said that changing App names wasn't difficult, so how hard can it be?!

    Free should be free, or at worst ad-supported.

    Also, any game that can't be completed (at least the 'main quest' with the more complex games) without payment should NOT be described as free. Because it isn't. It's free-to-a-point.

    And after that, anyone who doesn't disable the micro-payments (previous poster gave instructions) should be more or less responsible for their own losses.

  36. StampedChipmunk
    Thumb Up

    Pay-to-Play is nothing new, it's now just less obvious

    Games have been used as a tool to get money out of your wallet for years - Pinball with the 'buy in' option, Arcade games with the '1 more life for 1 credit' option and the well-known mechanics of fruit machines and quiz machines. Ultimately all of these things are there to get a much money out of you for the entertainment of playing them.

    Sames true with these bait apps, but it's much sneakier as the purchase is effectively invisible. Instead of your wallet rapidly becoming empty of coins, in-game purchases are just a button click and *ping* extra smurfberries are credited. Some games have in-game monetary systems that are false - think of it like playing poker with matchsticks as counters. Other games have monetary systems that are real money. How can you tell which is which? A nine year old will have a hell of a time differentiating between the two, so I can't really blame her.

    Can't blame the parent that much either. The same confusion/ignorance mentioned above applies plus the obvious fact that they didn't know about the setting to turn off in app purchases (I didn't - is there such a thing for Android?).

    Can't blame Apple too much as well, I mean they have provided a way to disable this kind of thing, even if it isn't well known. And if people want to play micropayment games, why not let them - especially if you can claim 30% or each transaction... That's capitalism, after all.

    I do think that Apple/Google need to be clearer about what these apps demand at the app store level. The information for most apps is the bare minimum, so I think they should have an agreed upon system of icons/warnings to explain that this Pony game will demand micropayments, or that purchase of Smurfberries is required to play.

    That's what I'd expect to see at the resolution of this case, I doubt any damages will be paid, but a code of conduct may be enforced...

    1. stanimir

      Re: Pay-to-Play is nothing new, it's now just less obvious

      Apple should be responsible. Any application has age restriction and allowing kids (effectively) to purchase is definitely a big no. They've created the rules and operate the garden, and the rules are just benefiting them.

      1. Oninoshiko

        Re: Pay-to-Play is nothing new, it's now just less obvious

        You'd think that requiring a credit card would be enforceing an age restriction. If they are giving them to nine year olds now, Visa needs to be the one sued.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree with the father in the article. It's like my lawsuit against Mr Colt and Mr Browning. It's too much to expect me to remember to put the safety on when I let my 10 year old play with my gun.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    While I sympathise with teh guy, apple did nothing wrong except not demanding passwords for each purchase from the start, and making people aware of the need for restrictions.

    The thing is, the iPad is a kids toy really, my 2 & 4 year olds share my iPad.. I can't remember the last time I used it for me, maybe a year ago?

    But the first thing I did was put all restrictions on for payment, and there is no way they have the ability to install apps on their own, I sit with my eldest while we look for new free games (I'll only buy him educational games after trying the demos)

    Really though I am expecting by the time my son is 9 he will have a phone and laptop/netbook/tablet (covering bases for 5 years time), its just the way of things...

    If apple care about kids, the need to get a better youtube app, one that can have restrictions set within it!

  39. Raphael

    Speaking as someone with kids.

    I do let my kids play games on my phone and my tablet (both Android), but I put them into flight mode first.

    And certain games that do pop-up "buy this" every 5 seconds get uninstalled fast (and I play all the games I let them play first so that I know what they are playing and what prompts and offers there may be)

  40. stanimir


    If a game offers ANY (whatsoever) in-app purchase it must be 18+ (or whatever age for itunes is). In that aspect I root for the guy.

    Exploiting kid is easy, it is effing easy.

  41. showady


    Well my 2 yr old son managed to buy £100 worth of MS points on the Xbox whilst I was in the kitchen. To be fair he didnt know what he was doing, he was just playing around with the controller. Needles to say I have removed my card details from the Xbox and my phone. Learnt the hard way lol

    1. Powelly
      Thumb Up

      Re: XBLA

      "Well my 2 yr old son managed to buy £100 worth of MS points on the Xbox whilst I was in the kitchen. "

      Think yourself lucky - I work with a guy whose two year old son bought him a £4000 shed from Ebay in much the same way. Fortunately the seller was sympathetic.

  42. TheWeddingPhotographer

    Do we "need" this crap

    Does a kid need a smart phone?

    Does a kid need I-tunes?

    Does a kid need a MP3 player?

    Does a kid need a laptop?

    Does a kid need the latest trainers?

    Does a kid need a TV as a babysitter?

    Unfortunatally as a society and as parents, we confuse what we actually need, with what marketing tells us we need

    I survive quite well, and so have many generations before me without Mp3 players, smartphones, the latest trainers, a TV spewing crap at me, I-tunes etc.

    We have literally spawned "the consumer generation" where desire and need are totally blurred

    We need to grow a backbone, and learn to say no

  43. ukgnome

    Wise up parents - you suckers

    Why not invest some time in learning how your phone (droid or fruit) connects and does payments and stuff. Never link your actualy credit card to your tunes/play account. I use a mixture of payment methods (smugness decends) and they are all on PAYG credit cards.

    Also pay attention to what your kiddies do, if you let them loose on your laptop I am sure you would hover over them making sure they didn't click those tasty looking banner ads.

    I learnt the hard way about linking actual accounts to things when my 4yo son bought a full size drum kit from eBay. The seller saw the funny side and refunded, but that was dealing with a fleshling and not a fruity robot!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Card Details

    I chose that option as well

  45. Mr. Nobby


    As much as I love to bash Apple they can't really be blamed here.

    What kind of idiot parent buys a ~£500 phone for a child and then links it to their bank account...

    1. pditty

      Re: Moron...

      I sold a top of the range 700 pound one to a parent because her 11 year old daughter demanded it.

      I gave the mother ample chances to back out, and asked her if she was sure she wanted a child carrying something like that to school etc.

      She is a bad parent, and she is going to reap what she has sewn.

      1. Z80

        Re: Moron...


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 320kg?

        What is 320kg?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Give your children a splashplastic or other prepaid credit card and their own iTunes account. That way if they want to pay for app or "gems" then thwey have to use their own money to top it up before they can spend. Problem solved.

  47. pditty

    If it wasn't think girl buying in app purchases, she'd be buying $5,000 worth of songs on iTunes ala Lisa Simpson.

    Parents, have you ever thought about sitting down with your children, and hitting them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Think girl?

      What are you talking about, man?

  48. Jonjonz

    Please Nail the Gambling Aspect Too

    The worst aspect of these freemium games is the blatant gambling. Many offer "surprise packs" that might contain something valuable in game, but 99% of the time just contain crap. Looks like a game of chance to me, if it looks like a duck. I am surprised the gambling industry is not on top of this like a ten ton hammer.

  49. Adam T

    Seperate download ID from purchase ID

    Seperate passwords for downloading the games, and making purchases.

    That's all it needs.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your smartphone IS your credit card.

    Treat it the same way. That particularly includes not giving it to kids - or in fact ANYONE - to play with.

  51. Toothpick


    Seems to me that this is yet another example of "I'm not responsible - it's someone else's fault". We have imported this attitude now into the UK - just look at the ambulance chasing lawer ads.

    I think the whole issue and ethics of in-app purchasing (especially) for a kids game is a totally separate debate. This guy is a chancer. His lawers are chancers.

  52. Seb123

    I don't understand how this can happen or how parents can allow this to happen. Every time that you try to do a purchase, it asks for the iTunes password. So the parent must have handed out the iTunes password to the kids and linked his credit card in. Not very smart. Especially when you could either:

    A. Not give them your password and enter it for them whenever necessary - it's hardly that much effort

    B. Created an iTunes account without a credit card and then occasionally buy them vouchers or make them do chores for them.

    Come on people, this isn't rocket science. To sue Apple and show your failure as not just an adult, but also a human being, is just farcical.

  53. beyond all knowledge

    or any purchase

    Well, he's complaining about in-app purchases. The child can still download original content as well. As an example, how about 50,000 songs.

  54. thejulianevans

    Two sorts of people

    The only two-sorts-of-people-in-the-world classification I've ever found convincing is: those people who have children and those who don't.

    Criticism of parents is all very well but wait till you've been stung in domestically pressured circumstances - doting hard-pressed mum and careful but temporarily absent dad.

    I am currently trying to recover from Apple £140 worth of unintentional purchases from iTunes by my 7-yr-old daughter. It simply isn't my daughter's fault that she pressed a button saying "Get free treats", but she has had nightmares and is now off school as a result of worrying about doing something wrong.

    Anyone else who'd care to own up so that we can see how we might provide support in the UK for the plaintiff's case when it comes to trial?

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