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Apple Will Refund $32.5M To Settle In-App Purchase Complaints With FTC

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the kids-don't-care-how-much-it-costs dept.

Businesses 252

coondoggie writes "Apple today agreed to refund at least $32.5 million to iTunes customers in order to settle FTC complaints about charges incurred by children in kids' mobile apps without their parents' consent. 'As alleged in the Commission's complaint, Apple violated this basic principle by failing to inform parents that, by entering a password, they were permitting a charge for virtual goods or currency to be used by their child in playing a children's app and at the same time triggering a 15-minute window during which their child could make unlimited additional purchases without further parental action."

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They should require refund window (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45970281)

When I buy an app and discover it is a steaming turd, I should be able to click to remove it and get a refund within 15 minutes. That way the parent should see the charges and then reverse them easily. Granted if the parent is too stupid to check why they are getting 30 email alerts in a row after little johnny jumped on the ipad... That's their own fault.

Re:They should require refund window (3, Informative)

Altus (1034) | about a year ago | (#45970313)

Generally the receipts for these charges show up a day or 2 after the purchase. I assume apple is batching together the charges or something and processing them in bulk somehow. Or maybe it just takes 2 days for the email alert to go out? I don't know.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45970439)

Generally the receipts for these charges show up a day or 2 after the purchase. I assume apple is batching together the charges or something and processing them in bulk somehow. Or maybe it just takes 2 days for the email alert to go out? I don't know.

I know I can't figure out my AT&T bill, no matter how I try. I imagine Apple has imitated that art.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#45970601)

Well, there's also going into the App Store after your kid hands back the device and seeing if there are any new purchases - they show up pretty easily under "purchased". Not 100% certain about the in-app purchases, but since it does not require a credit card to get an AppStore account...

Meanwhile, if a parent is idiot enough to let their toddler play with a somewhat-fragile glass-faced $500+ electronic device? The parent(s) deserve the consequences, and should count themselves lucky that little Junior didn't slam it into the floor until the screen shattered.

Re:They should require refund window (2)

JabrTheHut (640719) | about a year ago | (#45970807)

Meanwhile, if a parent is idiot enough to let their toddler play with a somewhat-fragile glass-faced $500+ electronic device?

You mean like a TV? And - toddler? There's a stage or two between toddler and adult that you seem to be unaware of...

The parent(s) deserve the consequences, and should count themselves lucky that little Junior didn't slam it into the floor until the screen shattered.

She keeps slamming toys into the screen, but she's not strong enough to break it. Yet.

Re:They should require refund window (0)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#45970863)

Meanwhile, if a parent is idiot enough to let their toddler play with a somewhat-fragile glass-faced $500+ electronic device?

You mean like a TV? And - toddler? There's a stage or two between toddler and adult that you seem to be unaware of...

A TV is substantially larger, heavier, and sturdier than an iPad, let alone an iPhone/iPod Touch. Curiously enough, if we were just talking iPads, the television is often cheaper to replace.

Curiously enough, the nanosecond a kid tries to pick up the television, most parents are smart enough to put a stop to it.

She keeps slamming toys into the screen, but she's not strong enough to break it. Yet.

Time to step up and do that parenting thing, no?

Re:They should require refund window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970931)

A TV is substantially larger, heavier, and sturdier than an iPad,

Larger and heavier, yes. Sturdier, not by a long shot. An iPad is infinitely more sturdy than any TV I've ever seen.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#45970995)

You haven't seen the 80kg theft-deterant-device in my living room that doubles as a TV.

Got to love lead filled CRT's! Who's going to want to steal that?

Re:They should require refund window (0)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45971301)

Drop an iPad onto unpadded carpet from 1 meter high. Do the same with your TV. I've seen the first. No damage. I've seen the second. Some damage. The iPad is "sturdier" for most definitions of sturdy.

Re:They should require refund window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45971409)

You haven't seen the 80kg theft-deterant-device in my living room that doubles as a TV.

1) I'd bet heavily that even that is made out of plastic, which even if it's reasonably tough plastic is likely to be less sturdy than the metal iPad
2) I'd bet heavily that the screen is both larger than an iPad's and made of less tough glass (i.e. just glass, not gorilla glass).
3) I'd bet heavily (actually, I know, thanks to physics) that your TV will undergo more force when it decelerates in the same amount of time hitting the floor.

I find it odd that people equate weight with sturdiness, they're not the same.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45971273)

Meanwhile, if a parent is idiot enough to let their toddler play with a somewhat-fragile glass-faced $500+ electronic device? The parent(s) deserve the consequences, and should count themselves lucky that little Junior didn't slam it into the floor until the screen shattered.

My toddler takes better care of the iPad than the teen. And yes, we have all purchases turned off, to the maximum extent possible without losing functionality.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970971)

I wonder if there is an app to organize your app bills.

Re:They should require refund window (4, Insightful)

immaterial (1520413) | about a year ago | (#45970981)

I know I can't figure out my AT&T bill, no matter how I try. I imagine Apple has imitated that art.

It is truly complicated [twimg.com] .

Re:They should require refund window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45971061)

It boggles my mind that people actually spend money on those things.

Re:They should require refund window (4, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#45970441)

Apple batches the charges as it reduces processing fees for credit cards. If you buy 2 $0.99 apps, it costs them less to run it as one $1.98 charge with two items in the invoice than two separate charges.

Re: They should require refund window (1)

zerotorr (729953) | about a year ago | (#45970329)

Because everyone is required to have a constant, always on internet connection tethered to them every moment of their lives?

Re: They should require refund window (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45970639)

Because everyone is required to have a constant, always on internet connection tethered to them every moment of their lives?

Haven't met anyone under the age of 30 lately, have you?

Like in particular kids. If they can't, like, stay connected then they would simply die, like!

I'm sitting at an intersection watching high school kids go by and at least 60% of the girls have a phone in their hand, which they are looking at.

There's a skyrocketing market for behavior modification counselling if ever there was one.

so, you think Justin's egg throwing was merited and you had to share that with all your friends ... let's work on why that is so important to you ...

Re: They should require refund window (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#45971477)

I'm sitting at an intersection watching high school kids go by and at least 60% of the girls have a phone in their hand, which they are looking at.

Just be careful where you gather data there brother.

Because everyone is required to have a constant, always on internet connection tethered to them every moment of their lives?

There is a sacrifice in personality development, but there is truth in what you say.

Re: They should require refund window (1)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about a year ago | (#45971539)

Haven't met anyone under the age of 30 lately, have you?

Hmm, just guessing from your grasp of standard English, correct spelling and grammar, and your low UID that you perhaps came of age in the 60's...? If so, you know, glass houses. :-)

But don't mind me, I came of age in the worthless 70's.

Re:They should require refund window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970365)

I remember back when the Android Market refund window was 24 hours, not fifteen minutes. Good times, good times.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#45971023)

Does that count for in-app purchases too?

Re:They should require refund window (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#45970431)

...but that's the wrong "refund window." In order to get a refund from Apple, the parents should have a 15 minute window in which they have to claim it.

Really, specifically authorizing a purchase, and not monitoring what their kids are doing on an Internet connected device is just stupid. Stupidity should be painful.

Re: They should require refund window (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970531)

And companies should be allowed to take advantage of people, unless its you right?

Re: They should require refund window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970711)

I fail to see how apple was taking advantage of people, please elaborate...

Re: They should require refund window (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970829)

Aww cmon,
Apple has to specifically approve every App. A few moments playing with those apps would reveal some of the most devious price gouging tactics used, eg; what was it $25 USD for happy berries for smurfs? A game targeted specifically at children.
Then there was copious amounts of news coverage of these types of Apps - highlighting the dubiously targeted child purchases.
Are you really thinking that Apple didn't know of these purchases? And that their accountants didn't notice the percentages of each purchase they were accumulating? And that they weren't aware of such unethical immoral behaviour by app developers?

Re: They should require refund window (1)

dk20 (914954) | about a year ago | (#45971813)

1) allow you to create an account with out FORCING you to enter a valid Credit card.
I just created an ApplieID to update my mac. Guess what, it absolutely refused to allow me to move forward without a credit card number. Why? So i could download the free updates using the "app store"?
2) As others have stated stop calling them "magic berries" or such, its really money. You dont think this was intentional?
3) again as others have pointed out. Apple reviews and approves every app. How do you approve an app for that age ranage and allow "in app purchases"?

Re:They should require refund window (4, Insightful)

david_thornley (598059) | about a year ago | (#45970709)

When doing something that I knew would bore my young son, I'd often give him something to do. If I'd had an iPhone back then, I would have sometimes found a game I thought he'd like and hand it over. I wouldn't monitor him closely in those situations; if I were going to pay that much attention to him, I wouldn't need something to distract him.

Now, suppose I downloaded and paid for a game. Game purchase authorized. What Apple didn't in general tell people is that that authorization would last past the initial purpose, unless the user dug deep in Settings to turn that feature off. What the game app probably didn't say was that it had in-app purchases that would be tempting to young children. It would be really, really easy for a parent to think he or she was handing something safe to the child without realizing it. Note that, given situations that involve young children, spending five minutes to research something that appears safe isn't always going to happen.

Young children don't understand money. Enough adults have problems thinking of credit purchases as actually spending money on something. I distinctly remember not understanding money as anything except bills and coins.

I have absolutely no sympathy with people who write apps like this, that are designed to siphon money from busy parents who don't fully understand technicalities.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970865)

"spending five minutes to research something that appears safe isn't always going to happen"
Unless you're a company distributing that App that has to specifically, individually approve each app for distribution.

also some games have in game money (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#45970943)

also some games have in game money and other stuff that can mask the fact that it's costs real money.

also if you played older games some had unlimited funds / auto loans / I think they may of been a few with a not so hidden cheat to get more as well.

Re:also some games have in game money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45971121)

The In-App Purchase confirmation [macrumors.com] always tells you you're spending real money.

Re:also some games have in game money (3, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45971339)

Yes, and the kid that bought the in-app purchase without realizing it cost real money would do what? Hand the game back to daddy? Or click "yes" to any question asked to be able to play the game. I know my kids clicked yes on everything. The 7 year old just finally got to the point of understanding.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#45971047)

So, your reasoning is that since you're a poor parent and you don't take the time to understand the things you're giving to your kid to play with, Apple owes you money.

Re:They should require refund window (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45971349)

Giving the kid a ball and ignoring them is good parenting, but handing them an educational game on an iPad and ignoring them is horrible parenting? Apple owes you a clue.

Re:They should require refund window (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year ago | (#45971499)

Sorry, but you're missing the fact that if a heroic jerb creating (in China) corporation does anything that results in you losing money because of anything that involved any decision on your part, regardless of whether you did it knowing that you'd lose money, or whether the corporation even used trickery or in some other way took advantage of the fact no reasonable person would think they'd lose money, then ITS YOUR FAULT AND YOUR DUMM HUH HUH.

*sigh* I don't understand the mentality either. Who the hell wants to spend their entire lives having a lawyer and army of technical experts look over every decision they make, just in case there's some hidden feature in there that's likely to screw you over.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#45971689)

No. Playing ball with your kid is good parenting. Giving your kid a toy so they don't bother you isn't.

And, somehow, I don't think all this "in-game purchase" stuff is about educational applications, except as defined by rationalizing pseudo-parents.

Re:They should require refund window (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45971831)

You are obviously not a parent. There's never a situation where the "best" response is to passify your child so you can deal with something else? Never? It may not be "good parenting" in your book, but it's at least sometimes necessary.

And, somehow, I don't think all this "in-game purchase" stuff is about educational applications, except as defined by rationalizing pseudo-parents.

If your comments don't stand up to the best case and worst case scenarios, then your argument fails.

Re:They should require refund window (2)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#45971693)

There is an option to disable in-app purchases, and is disabled both in my ipad and my iphone as protection from my kid, from myself and from potentially malicious apps.

15 minute authorization window closed long ago ... (4, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#45971815)

Game purchase authorized. What Apple didn't in general tell people is that that authorization would last past the initial purpose, unless the user dug deep in Settings to turn that feature off.

I believe this was fixed long ago in an iOS update. The app authorization no longer works for in-app authorization. Once in the app a second authorization is always needed for an in-app purchase. This second authorization for the in-app purchase does seem to create a window of approval for subsequent in-app purchases, however the original app purchase no longer creates such a window. In any case the parent is aware that the app has in-app purchases.

Re:They should require refund window (2)

farble1670 (803356) | about a year ago | (#45971171)

the parents should have a 15 minute window in which they have to claim it

that's almost pointless as it requires you to figure out what has happened within 15 minutes of the action.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#45970491)

Can you even refund in-app purchases? Say you pay to get the last item and finish the game, or get ahead of other players, or level up your character or whatever. Can that be reversed somehow?

Re:They should require refund window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970909)

Yes, you can get refunds on in-app purchases, the same way you get refunds on any other purchase. Five seconds of googling would have answered that for you.

Re:They should require refund window (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about a year ago | (#45971187)

apple gives you a refund, but you keep the in app purchase.

Re:They should require refund window (2)

Swampash (1131503) | about a year ago | (#45970667)

When I buy an app and discover it is a steaming turd, I should be able to click to remove it and get a refund within 15 minutes.

You can - I've done it more than once with apps that turned out to be, as you put it, steaming turds.

This case however is about IN-APP purchases. E.g. playing a shitty freemium game like Plants vs Zombies 2 and unlocking new plants by clicking the "buy this plant" button, which costs real-world money.

Re:They should require refund window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970753)

E.g. playing a shitty freemium game like Plants vs Zombies 2 [...]

Wow. Sounds like SOMEONE'S still bitter.

Just point on the doll where you were hurt by the new business model that came about because we were gleefully mocking and abusing the outdated business model and telling companies to develop that new business model if they didn't like it.

Re:They should require refund window (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#45970731)

When I buy an app and discover it is a steaming turd, I should be able to click to remove it and get a refund within 15 minutes. That way the parent should see the charges and then reverse them easily. Granted if the parent is too stupid to check why they are getting 30 email alerts in a row after little johnny jumped on the ipad... That's their own fault.

In general, you can. You have to contact Apple Support for it, though, but you can get refunded on app purchases.

Heck, in Taiwan, the law requires app stores have a 7 day return window. Apple obeys by it, Google does not. In fact, Google at one point removed the ability to buy apps if you're from Taiwan. Instead, they lobbied the government to give them an exception to the 7 day rule. (It was granted).

Re:They should require refund window (1)

gerardrj (207690) | about a year ago | (#45970929)

The settlement is regarding in-app purchases, not App purchases.

Here's why there's not automatic 15 minute window to get refunds for those: Apple has not way of knowing if you USED the in-app purchase or not.

Why's it matter? You're playing a game and need Sword of Wonderment +5 to kill Malchan. You can in-app purchase it for $1.29 or go spend an hour earning it in a quest. You're lazy so you buy the Sword of Wonderment +5, kill Malchan and then claim a refund for the $1.29 you spent on the Sword of Wonderment +5.
Substitute bags of coins, bigger engine, red sneakers or any other item in any other game that does this sort of thing.

In that environment, what is the incentive for developers to continue to offer free or low-cost games?

Re:They should require refund window (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#45970969)

You mean the email alerts they read on the their iPad that the child is currently playing the game on?

Re:They should require refund window (2)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about a year ago | (#45970983)

I bought an app the other day that didn't work. I went to my apple account, clicked the "Report a problem with this purchase button" under recent purchases, explained the problem, and was issued a refund the same day.

I don't know if they'd do the same thing if you just said "hey this game sucks can I return it" but then how many stores will let you return video games after they've been opened?

Re:They should require refund window (2)

farble1670 (803356) | about a year ago | (#45971129)

Granted if the parent is too stupid to check why they are getting 30 email alerts in a row after little johnny jumped on the ipad... That's their own fault.

yeah, because we are all sitting around watching our inbox constantly.

I'll believe it when I see it (5, Interesting)

vinn01 (178295) | about a year ago | (#45970615)

Apple was pure evil about this. I got my kid an iPod touch a few years ago. I set him up with his own AppleID, and loaded his iTunes account with a generous iTunes gift card. I told him that there were lots of free apps and he should save his money by playing the free apps.

A couple months later he complained that he could not download any more free apps. I checked his account and he had spent his entire iTunes gift card. You need money in your iTunes account to download a free app. He got very upset and pleaded with me that he had only downloaded free app and he had not gone crazy downloading high priced junk.

I was able to generate a detailed listing of his iTunes purchases. All the gift card money has been spent on in-game purchases. He had no idea that he was purchasing anything. He showed me. The game would ask if the player wanted something (more time, more bullets, more lives, etc.) and ask for the AppleID password. It was entirely unclear that he was spending real money. No sales receipt was ever generated. I complained to Apple and was told that they don't control in-game purchases and that since we didn't buy anything from "Apple", they could not refund anything. I'm sure that didn't stop Apple from collecting fees on the in-game app purchases.

Will my son get his gift card money back? I doubt it.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (4, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#45970653)

You need money in your iTunes account to download a free app.

1) They changed this behavior at least since 2010 - you don't even need a card (of any type) to open an account nowadays.
2) App Store and iTunes are two different entities.
3) If the kid is younger than 13 or so, why the hell did you not control the password?
4) FYI: kids at that age lie. A lot.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (2)

gerardrj (207690) | about a year ago | (#45970939)

Minor correction:
You do need a payment method to open the iTunes Store account. After 24 hours you may remove the payment method from the account, but the CC is a form of identity and age verification in the process.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (3, Informative)

immaterial (1520413) | about a year ago | (#45971357)

False [apple.com] .

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#45971399)

Minor correction:
You do need a payment method to open the iTunes Store account. After 24 hours you may remove the payment method from the account, but the CC is a form of identity and age verification in the process.

This makes no sense... you can open an account using a gift card -- which says absolutely nothing about identity or age verification.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (3, Informative)

Mr.123 (661787) | about a year ago | (#45971431)

I've opened a lot of accounts in the last 3 years with nothing attached to them for older people. It can absolutely be done.

Apple is not your child's parent (1, Insightful)

jmcbain (1233044) | about a year ago | (#45970661)

Perhaps you should have applied better parental supervision and not just check up on him after "a couple months later." Apple is not in the business of being your child's parent.

Re:Apple is not your child's parent (1)

vinn01 (178295) | about a year ago | (#45971003)

Perhaps you should apply better English supervision if you think that a "free app" should cost money to download - or money to play. I'm on firm ground on thinking that "free" means not just free to download, but free to play.

Do I really need to sit and watch him play "Plants and Zombies?". Is there too much sex or violence? It's normally not conceivable that him playing that game would be costing me money.

Re:Apple is not your child's parent (1)

theArtificial (613980) | about a year ago | (#45971867)

Perhaps you should apply better English supervision if you think that a "free app" should cost money to download - or money to play. I'm on firm ground on thinking that "free" means not just free to download, but free to play.

It is free to play. Another title like this, which is entirely free to play and also offers in app purchases is Candy Crush. I've sunk many hours into this title over the last year. You pay to speed things up, and bonuses. Not all games are like this, and it isn't a requirement to play. Keep an eye out for the "Offers In-App Purchases" which appears below the app title in the store. Your argument is strikingly similar to those who misunderstand what free software is in the OSS sense.

Do I really need to sit and watch him play "Plants and Zombies?". Is there too much sex or violence? It's normally not conceivable that him playing that game would be costing me money.

No, you don't need to sit and watch him play, but if you did this whole situation would've been avoided. I'd use this as a teachable moment for both of you. I think a far more interesting topic to investigate would be how did this business model come about?

Isn't it outrageous that people want to make money, especially in an ecosystem that has annual costs for a developer to participate in? Do you see the humor in someone plunking down money for an Apple device and complaining about costs? It's pretty rich! ;)

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970787)

You need money in your iTunes account to download a free app.

Bullshit. You do not need any money (CC#, gift card, or otherwise) attached to your Apple ID to download free apps.

He got very upset and pleaded with me that he had only downloaded free app and he had not gone crazy downloading high priced junk.

I was able to generate a detailed listing of his iTunes purchases. All the gift card money has been spent on in-game purchases. He had no idea that he was purchasing anything. He showed me. The game would ask if the player wanted something (more time, more bullets, more lives, etc.) and ask for the AppleID password. It was entirely unclear that he was spending real money.

Bullshit. From the start, in-app purchases popped up a notification confirming the purchase, with the dollar amount right there in the confirmation [macrumors.com] .

No sales receipt was ever generated.

Bullshit. Apple sends purchase receipts (for apps, in-app purchases, everything) to the primary email address you registered with the Apple ID.

This here is a perfect example of how stupid and inattentive a parent had to be to allow a kid to rack up crazy charges. You put money on your kids account, and gave him full access to spend it all - and, despite notifications that he was spending actual money (which he and, apparently, YOU both clicked through without even reading), he went ahead and spent it all. And now you're whining about it.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about a year ago | (#45970917)

Exactly. It's the exact same as if you give your kid a $20 and he goes to the arcade. There's no "free" games and it's highly likely that he'll want more money. That's not really evil on Apple's part.

The prevalence of in app purchases is disappointing though. I'd prefer to pay a couple bucks for an app and have it work all the time (without any "energy" issues). But because some users have more money that good sense, the business model of give the app away for free charge a shit ton is for some strange reason prevalent.

you can win free games on pinball not so much (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#45970997)

you can win free games on pinball not so much on there games there.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#45970991)

that screen shot should have USD or other in front of the price.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45971167)

IT HAS A DOLLAR SIGN you blind idiot. This is why we have ten fluorescent warning stickers affixed to everything we buy nowadays - people are grossly incompetent and are happy to sue over it.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

vinn01 (178295) | about a year ago | (#45971281)

Before you call "Bullshit", maybe you should consider the possibility that Apple has changed it's back-end processing since "a few years ago".

When I said "You need money in your iTunes account to download a free app.", I was not saying that the Apple system currently works this way. But it did work that way "a few years ago".

Do you really think that the Apple system works identically today as it did "a few years ago?"

/ get off my lawn.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#45971919)

Do you really think that the Apple system works identically today as it did "a few years ago?"

The requirement for a CC or money in the account may very well have changed. However in-app purchases have ALWAYS been performed by Apple's App Store app and have ALWAYS included a confirmation that showed the item and its price. The game may offer an in-app but it can't perform the purchase, only the Apple App Store app can do that.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45971365)

Bullshit. You do not need any money (CC#, gift card, or otherwise) attached to your Apple ID to download free apps.

Having had an iTunes account (Apple ID) fail to download free games after a CC expiration date passed until I followed the instructions to update the payment method, I think you are wrong. Perhaps there is a way to make it work, but not easily, and certainly not in the Apple-no-hassle way Apple users come to expect.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Roogna (9643) | about a year ago | (#45970869)

See, and I handled this problem by using MY AppleID, turning off the App Store, In-App Purchases, and setting the password timeout to immediately and turning on parental controls. Then, if my 6 year old daughter wants something she has to *gasp* ask her parent, just like I had to when I was a kid. Which means that I can then look at it and make an informed decision about that purchase. Yes it means I have to turn back on some things, type in my password, and turn them back off, but it also means I get to monitor what she's buying and discuss the purchases with her. Like... a parent.

Or do you also just hand your obviously young kid gift cards and drop them off at the mall?

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

vinn01 (178295) | about a year ago | (#45971083)

Yes, I have been known to give my kid a Target gift card and drop him off at Target.

And I review his purchases - like a parent. I call it "trust, but verify". Unlike Apple, Target provides a sales receipt. Also unlike Apple, Target puts a price tag on things. They don't call anything "free", when it's not.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45971219)

Apple provides a sales receipt to the email address you set the account up with. If you're too fucking stupid to check your email (or stupid enough to use a throwaway email account for something involving monetary purchases) you deserve what you get. On top of that, you can check the account's purchase history online or on the device.

The in-app purchase dialog explicitly tells you what things will cost before you buy them. Nobody is lying to you about anything.

You have no excuse, you incompetent boob.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45971407)

When you walk out of the Target, you get the receipt. With Apple, you get the receipt days later, after they batch your purchases together. That's close enough to lying. Why not give an immediate email confirmation? Oh, then people might notice and cancel the purchase.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#45971593)

Apple doesn't provide a receipt? Funny... I've always got a (delayed) email receipt that aggregates the month's purchases, and have been able to review purchases in iTunes. ...

However, I just double checked, and iTunes appears to be the ONLY!?!?! way to review purchases -- if you use your device OTA and make purchases OTA, the only way you can review purchases is when Apple emails the transaction receipt -- there appears to be no other means of getting at your purchase info other than via iTunes.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about a year ago | (#45970885)

I call BS.

In app purchases clearly say that they cost something. $0.99 for more energy or whatever you're buying.

The problem is that giving a kid an iphone with an apple account is like giving them a credit card. And, given the self control of most children, even if you think yours is different, it's a very dumb idea to give them a credit card.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

vinn01 (178295) | about a year ago | (#45971165)

The BS is Apple calling it a free app.

When you're playing a game, the concept of money is game money. A lot of games let you earn and spend money. Why would anyone playing a game, and presented with a choice like "do you want more energy for $0.99?", think that they are spending real USD money? Especially in a "free app".

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about a year ago | (#45971359)

Why would anyone playing a game, and presented with a choice like "do you want more energy for $0.99?", think that they are spending real USD money?

Because they have a clue.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#45971601)

The BS is Apple calling it a free app.

When you're playing a game, the concept of money is game money. A lot of games let you earn and spend money. Why would anyone playing a game, and presented with a choice like "do you want more energy for $0.99?", think that they are spending real USD money? Especially in a "free app".

Well, the prompt that you're about to spend real money and do you want to authorize this, followed by a prompt for your account ID and password should be a clue. The prompt is very obviously not a game prompt.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45971691)

"In app purchases clearly say that they cost something. $0.99 for more energy or whatever you're buying."
false... unless Apple has made some changes.
There where a lot of games geared towards young children that had in app purchase that just look liked you were playing.
The were in indistinguishable as spending money to any young person. Like a game where you op[en chests, but every once in a while one of the chest would cost money and the user would get a message like 'The will cost 399 star points, do you want it?" Bang, yo are dinged for 3.99 in an email 2 days later.
But wait, there is more!
While play, there would be several off them, and in the game you could also get something called Strr Points' which were different then the star point that cost money.

I know, becasue I got an email 2 days later saying that has spent over 500 dollars. I looked at the game, and you need some life skills toy even consider what they where doing was actually charging money.
I called Apple, they started to bulk and I said 'My child is under 13' at which point the immediately refunded me.

It wasn't star points, but it's been a few years and all I remember is the word 'money' or anything like it appeared.
My child was 7 and knew enough that if the work money had appeared, or it looked like a purchase, she would have asked.

There are a lot of sleazy developers out there creating apps that look fine for kids, but after a while of playing they try to trick people into doing something that costs money.

Game can not hide actual purchase price ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#45972019)

Like a game where you op[en chests, but every once in a while one of the chest would cost money and the user would get a message like 'The will cost 399 star points, do you want it?" Bang, yo are dinged for 3.99 in an email 2 days later.

No, the game can only offer you the purchase. For the actual sale to take place the game has to create a purchase request and turn this request over to the built-in Apple App Store app. The Apple App Store app will then independently confirm the purchase showing you the item and the price in your local currency. Only the Apple App Store app can make a purchase. The game can not hide the fact that an actual purchase is going to take place.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970949)

1) Pretty sure you don't need money or a credit card attached to your iTunes account to download a free app.

2) In-game purchases are, and have almost always been sneaky. I used to work at a gaming company. We do this shit because it's easy and everyone demands freemium games these days. So it's not exactly Apple's fault there. You should blame the gaming companies. Or, you know, blaming yourself for not educating your son about those slimy bastards we are. And spending time with him and watching him play games and stop him before he makes purchases.

Or, spend the money you spent on the gift card and buy him a real nanny or babysitter.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

knarf (34928) | about a year ago | (#45971001)

And this, dear reader, is why you don't give iDevices to children. If you insist on giving them a touch-screen thing, get something running Android, don't activate a Google account on it - or even better install an alternative Android distribution and keep the thing Google-free - and side-load a few free games which you downloaded on another device through the Play store. Android runs fine without Google, you do not need anything else than the device and some software to run on it. No credit card. No 'iTunes gift card' equivalent. No Google account. Just hardware and the software you want to run on it.

Any computing device which comes with a mandatory credit account is off-limits in my opinion. It is the equivalent of a slot machine or a pay-to-play arcade game, not a personal computing device.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#45971051)

i have 2 iphones and 2 ipads which my kids also use
the oldest one knows not to do any in app purchasing and there it asks for a password every time you buy something. not only that you have to tap the area that says spend this much for so much coins or new level or whatever. apple makes sure the devs are clear. and there is always an email about something being purchased

do some parenting next time

this is like a kids in the 80's ordering porn and other pay per view and telling their parents that they had no idea they did it

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45971739)

Fuck you.

The email comes days later, and for a long time some games gave no indication you were spending money becasue the devs could call it what ever they wanted.

It's not about parenting, its about some apps worked hard to disguise the fact the user were spending money.

"this is like a kids in the 80's ordering porn and other pay per view and telling their parents that they had no idea they did it"
No, it's nothing like that.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#45971991)

don't give your kids the password and approve every purchase

every single app page lists the top IAP for that app and every app i've seen it clearly says how much it costs to buy in game money, gems or whatever. and then it asks for your itunes password to approve it.

kids will lie. my 6 year old is learning how to lie to get his way

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45971065)

You need money in your iTunes account to download a free app.

This part, thankfully, is no longer true. I set up my dad with an iPad for his birthday last March, and he steadfastly refused to add his credit card. He can still download and play all the free cribbage apps he wants.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45971221)

Apple was right. Stop being an asshole and be a parent.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about a year ago | (#45971223)

No sales receipt was ever generated. I complained to Apple and was told that they don't control in-game purchases and that since we didn't buy anything from "Apple", they could not refund anything

i had a similar situation, where my son spent $100+ of real money on in-app purchases. i emailed apple and they refunded it, with a stern warning that this would be the last time i'd get a refund ... which seemed completely fair.

Apple App Store app does ALL in-app purchases ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#45971883)

He had no idea that he was purchasing anything. He showed me. The game would ask if the player wanted something (more time, more bullets, more lives, etc.) and ask for the AppleID password. It was entirely unclear that he was spending real money. No sales receipt was ever generated.

The game NEVER asks for the Apple ID or password(*). The purchase confirmation is ALWAYS done by the built-in Apple App Store app.

Apps display an offer but they have to turn over the purchase to the Apple App Store app once the user indicates that they want to buy. Then the App Store app independently asks for confirmation and shows the item being purchased and its price.

(*) Well unless its malware that got past Apple's review process. In-app purchases are submitted and reviews just like app.

why need an password for free apps? needs more (4, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#45970641)

why need an password for free apps? needs more control like say no password for free / updates and or an pin / password for buying stuff.

I think cable vod systems now have the free stuff not need to use the same buy screen with a price of 0 that PPV VOD gets.

 

Re:why need an password for free apps? needs more (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970693)

Because virus apps are all free. You require a password to request a higher level of thought processing before installing that virus.

Re:why need an password for free apps? needs more (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year ago | (#45970889)

why need an password for free apps? needs more control like say no password for free / updates and or an pin / password for buying stuff.

If you didn't need a password for free apps, then anybody with access to the device could download any malicious app as long as it is free.

Re:why need an password for free apps? needs more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45971049)

However, one could have a device password which was purely local --- not authenticated with Apple, and not used to initiate any commercial transactions. Making the sign-on to install free apps identical with the sign-on to authorize purchases (then encouraging/requiring use of this everywhere, so you're constantly at risk of unwanted transactions) is a slimeball move (i.e. business as usual for corporate capitalism).

Re: why need an password for free apps? needs more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45971231)

How would said malicious app penetrate the walled garden Apple has established so helpfully "to protect us" ?

Re:why need an password for free apps? needs more (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#45971073)

its like OS X
you need a password to install anything as a form of security

UAC in Windows is annoying but the same thing is OS X is beyond awesome and cool

In Capitalist Amerika... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970655)

Does the government get the refund for things your kids charged to their phone and not the parents.

Yeesh.

dic$k (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45970695)

steadily fucking Users. S0rprise

Lets make a list! (1)

zacherynuk (2782105) | about a year ago | (#45970799)

Give me examples of good in app purchases!
I'll start with:
Maps for air, sea and land navigation

Re:Lets make a list! (1)

microcars (708223) | about a year ago | (#45971007)

extra lives for Candy Crush
chocolate balls for Candy Crush
Coconut things for Candy Crush
anything and everything else for Candy Crush

/ as long as someone else is paying for them, all these are good in app purchases!

Apple CEO Tim Cook quoted as asking: (1)

Sir Realist (1391555) | about a year ago | (#45970913)

"Have you got change for $100 mil? I don't really carry small change."

Response to all the complaining parents (1)

jddeluxe (965655) | about a year ago | (#45971435)

No one above specifically mentions the actual age of the child, but instead of handing them a mobile device to play Plants vs. Zombies on, hand them (as age appropriate):

- Legos
- A book
- A musical instrument
- A "300 in 1" electronics set
- Whatever the latest cool educational toy is
- Better yet, send them out to the backyard to play so their BMI doesn't doom them before they're teenagers.


This would not be an issue if your idea of "parenting" was to hand your child a device to use in an unsupervised state. That makes a good marketing opportunity which usually gets exploited...

Re:Response to all the complaining parents (2)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45971809)

- Legos
it's Lego, not Legos. My kids have thousands, and they know the plural form of Lego is Lego.
-A Book
Yes, they read it on an iPad, or kindle. And they have read hundreds of books.
- A musical instrument
It's hard to make someone practice in any way that won't make them hate it later. However; music instrament are available in my house hold. AS an example to them, I am learning how to play Bass. I use the iPad for sheet music, tabs, and recording.

- A "300 in 1" electronics set
well, we have Arduino's, and basic electronic is mandatory learning in my house. Just enough top see if they are intersted. Build something simple, soldier a little, and know the Basics of Ohm's law. They also use in iPad to get info and learn electronics.

"- Whatever the latest cool educational toy is"
that would be the iPad.

"- Better yet, send them out to the backyard to play so their BMI doesn't doom them before they're teenagers."
Going outside doesn't changes weather or not the kid will have high BMI. Their eating habits do. A child the plays simply eats more.

Also, they play game on the iPad.

The issue here is you. You seem oblivious that for a while there where a loit of apps that disguised in game purchase. I understand Apple may have recently made changes to stop that.

Apple claims to vet all apps, so when an app geared toward 7 year olds is on their store, and that app disguises in app purchase, I ave a hrd time blaming the parents.

I hate to post 84th. (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#45971607)

My unlucky number.

I remember switching cellphone carriers multiple times after this or that premium service was exploited by one of the kids' failure to understand the minutes limit, the texting limit, or the data limit. At the time, I remember thinking I would keep looking until I found an honest cell carrier.

Poor Diogenes.

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