Kid racked up $300 bucks in 6 days on iPad app
November 1, 2017 11:15 AM   Subscribe

So, our kids have iPads. We have a house rule that they need to ask permission before buying anything. In fact, until recently they were UNABLE to make purchases without getting approval from one of us. Somehow was changed, and in the last week out daughter racked up $300 in charges on some stupid High School app.

What's the best way to get this resolved and our money back?
posted by leotrotsky to Technology (18 answers total)
 
You punish your daughter and make her pay for what she spent. It's not the app's fault that your daughter broke a house rule, one, and two, among my friends with app-using-age kids, I have never once heard of any of them getting reimbursed for in-app purchases on dumb 3rd party apps.

That said, you can always try sending copies of your email receipts to apple support, explaining that they were purchases made in error by a minor, and crossing your fingers.
posted by phunniemee at 11:22 AM on November 1, 2017 [22 favorites]


I don’t understand, did your daughter make the purchases or is there an error with your billing?
posted by pintapicasso at 11:25 AM on November 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


If you were sent purchase receipts by Apple, open the email and access your purchase history. If you don't have those, use the Report a Problem form. Tell them the purchases were unauthorized-child-related, and ask for a refund.
posted by halation at 11:27 AM on November 1, 2017 [8 favorites]


I think more details would help.

What is the name of the app? Are you saying that their iPads settings were set to disallow in-app purchase, something changed, and then your daughter unknowingly racked up charges?

What do the iPad settings look like now? What do your other kid's settings look like now?
posted by lalex at 11:27 AM on November 1, 2017


I don’t understand, did your daughter make the purchases or is there an error with your billing?

I don't know yet, kid still at school. Seems out of character for her, but it is on app she uses.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:28 AM on November 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


In the future, one way to prevent this is to get something like Bank of America's ShopSafe (I'm sure other credit cards have a similar thing). It's a temporary credit card number (associated with your existing account), that has limited lifetime and dollar limit.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:31 AM on November 1, 2017 [4 favorites]


Are you saying that their iPads settings were set to disallow in-app purchase, something changed, and then your daughter unknowingly racked up charges?

That's what seems to have happened. Apple said that she (daughter) shouldn't be able to disable on her end, and I know my wife didn't turn it off. We used to get confirmation texts on purchase requests. Maybe iOS 11 update changed a something? It's all very strange.

She (wife) turned parental approval for app purchases back on at her end, so that's fixed.

Apple Support said they'd refund all charges, so that's good, at least.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:32 AM on November 1, 2017 [47 favorites]


A couple of possibilities:
There is a thing where if you enter the password for the App Store, there's a short cool down period where you don't have to enter it again for subsequent purchases. Is it possible that a parent put the password in for a legit reason then your daughter used the iPad right afterwards?
Or: she knows your App Store password.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:33 AM on November 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


Just want to confirm that kids will accidentally -- and then, maybe on purpose -- bump into whatever dumb way a tablet can help them spend money. Despite our best efforts to lock it down, our son once managed to spend hundreds of dollars on Star Wars kindle comics ... in German, which he does not speak. Amazon graciously refunded the money when I explained that nobody spoke German at our house.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:51 AM on November 1, 2017 [5 favorites]


I have never once heard of any of them getting reimbursed for in-app purchases on dumb 3rd party apps.
Apple has changed their policies around this since the FTC took an interest a few years ago.
posted by soelo at 11:58 AM on November 1, 2017 [6 favorites]


There is no "cool down" period for your iCloud/iTunes password if you set "Settings > General > Restrictions > Password Settings" to "Always Require".

Then change your iTunes password.

You may also want to check how you have Family Sharing set up. Every single purchase should trigger a password request on your end, even "free" apps.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:09 PM on November 1, 2017 [6 favorites]


This happened to my brother. Can confirm that he got the $$ reimbursed, with a stern warning that this was a one time thing, and instructions on setting up parental controls
posted by Valancy Rachel at 12:14 PM on November 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


" I have never once heard of any of them getting reimbursed for in-app purchases on dumb 3rd party apps."

Every digital media store that I use now offers this option. If you click on "there was a problem with my transaction" it will give you options like "I clicked accidentally" "It didn't download properly" and "a minor purchased this without permission." They refund automatically, as long as you're not doing it weekly.

In general parents can ALWAYS void purchases or contracts entered into by their minor children without permission -- even in-person purchases with cash! -- unless it involves necessities like food and clothing. It is the retailer's responsibility to ensure the child has permission, not the parent's or the child's. That's the law. If a digital media retailer or a cell phone company or whomever tells you they can't refund you, you can totally take them to small claims court and get your money back that way. Digital media companies feeling they should be exempt from retail laws because they're techy and disruptive doesn't mean they actually are exempt.

Another route is to go to your credit card and report them as unauthorized charges -- even though it's your kid, it's still unauthorized unless you specifically authorized it. And then you're only responsible for $50. If the credit card company believes they were authorized, they're required to take you to court to prove it.

Finally, a lot of these apps engage in unconscionable or unfair trade practices -- again, prohibited by law, and with stricter regulations when aimed at minors. You can complain about this to the FTC, your state AG, or, again, file a lawsuit if you so desire.

Just because these are common practices does not mean they are legal, and parents should not roll over for tech companies' deliberate and illegal attempts to manipulate their children or entice their children into unauthorized purchases or contracts.

"It's not the app's fault that your daughter broke a house rule,"

It is absolutely the app's fault. What they did is illegal. You don't punish an innocent minor for being preyed upon by an adult criminal who is deliberately circumventing laws designed to protect minors from exactly this kind of predation.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:27 PM on November 1, 2017 [65 favorites]


Before you spend too much time on the technical route, you might want to make sure she didn't circumvent the parental protections when a parent was sleeping or in the bathroom. As a kid who was around for the beginning of home internet and parents who thought everything was always locked down and under their control...well, it's honestly really easy to get around parents when you're bored and want something.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 12:34 PM on November 1, 2017


Eyebrows,

Thanks for that. I know minors can't enter into contracts, but was concerned they'd inserted some kind of waiver into something my wife or I click-signed.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:37 PM on November 1, 2017


They may have, but that doesn't mean it's enforceable.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:35 PM on November 1, 2017 [4 favorites]


When this happened to us with one of our kids--who was young enough to not realize things were being charged, Apple reversed all but the initial purchase and told us not to let it happen again. Switching the setting so the password had to be entered every time solved it going forward.
posted by Orlop at 8:11 PM on November 1, 2017


> This happened to my brother. Can confirm that he got the $$ reimbursed, with a stern warning that this was a one time thing, and instructions on setting up parental controls

Can confirm the same. Kid spent £80 or something on films etc without really realising it or thinking it would be hidden. Kid got in trouble, I called Apple, they reimbursed as a gesture of goodwill, won't happen again, be more careful, etc.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 5:23 AM on November 2, 2017


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