In-app purchases in children’s games facing scrutiny by UK watchdog

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UK consumer watchdog the Office of Fair Trading is investigating in-app purchases in phone games aimed at children, reports the BBC.

The investigation was prompted by a 300% increase in complaints from consumers, and follows a high-profile UK case in which a police officer parent reported his own child for fraud after Apple refused to refund in-app purchases amounting to £3700 ($5680) … Read more

Police officer reports son for fraud after Apple refuse to refund £3,700 App Store spending spree

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A police officer in the U.K. named Doug Crossan reported his own 13-year-old son for fraud after Apple refused to refund £3,700 that the child ran up playing freemium App Store titles on his iPad. DailyMail has the story:

Cameron then racked up more than 300 purchases on games such as Plants vs Zombies, Hungry Shark, Gun Builder, Nova 3. Many of them are free to download but users can buy in-game extras – in one game Cameron had purchased a virtual chest of gold coins costing £77.98.

But the technology company has refused and his only way of recouping the money is to report the purchases as being fraudulent. So Mr Crossan, of Clevedon, North Somerset, has shopped Cameron to the Action Fraud helpline – meaning his son could face arrest and questioning by the his father’s colleagues. He said: ‘I am sure Cameron had no intention to do it, but I had to have a crime reference number if there was any chance of getting any credit card payments refunded.

We reported last week that Apple was adding a new “offers in-app purchases” warning in the App Store to better inform consumers downloading free apps that additional content will require a fee. The move followed a settling a class action lawsuit that alleged children were able to rack up thousands of dollars through the iOS freemium model, i.e. in-app purchases, with both parents and children under the impression that the games were free. Apple is refusing to refund Crossan, citing “parental responsibility and pointing out that iPads contain password locks to prevent accidental or unwanted purchases.”

Read more

Apple settles in-app purchasing class action, agrees to pay $5 iTunes credit or cash refund

Last time we checked in on the in-app purchase class-action lawsuit against Apple, courts refused Apple’s request to throw out the case brought on by parents arguing the iOS freemium model, i.e. in-app purchases, allowed children to easily rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars. Today, Law360 (via GigaOM) reported Apple has agreed to pay a settlement and will be contacting 23 million iTunes users that “made a Game Currency purchase in one or more Qualified Apps.”

According to the report, Apple will pay $5 in iTunes credit to those who claim in-app content was purchased by a minor without their permission. For purchases above $30, users will be able to request a full refund. However, credits will likely not get to users until early 2014 when the settlement meets regulatory approval: Read more