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Apple Faces Class-Action Suit For In-App Purchases

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the deposit-three-slashbucks-to-continue-reading dept.

Iphone 283

suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: "Garen Meguerian and a team of lawyers are taking Apple to task for 'inducing' children to spend hundreds of dollars of their parents' money on in-app game purchases. Meguerian filed a class-action lawsuit this week in California, acknowledging that Apple has already addressed the problem, but saying that the company continues to unfairly profit from sales of virtual 'smurfberries' and 'fish bucks.' The issue at hand is related to games that rely on a 'freemium' business model, giving away the game for free on the App Store and relying on in-app purchases of virtual currency, extra levels, or other add-ons as a revenue stream."

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283 comments

Bad parenting (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833460)

So, neglectful parents are suing Apple because they can't be fucked with to watch what their children are doing?

How about this: don't give your kid the iTunes account password?

Re:Bad parenting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833790)

There are several much better reasons for class-action suits against Apple. Don't get me wrong: I'm a fan of the company. But their lock-down and lock-in tactics surrounding iOS are much more worthy of class action than this nonsense.

Re:Bad parenting (-1, Troll)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833994)

There are several much better reasons for class-action suits against Apple. Don't get me wrong: I'm a fan of the company. But their lock-down and lock-in tactics surrounding iOS are much more worthy of class action than this nonsense.

Really?

So, what you are saying is that the consumer should be excused from normal diligence before purchasing an iOS device?

I mean, anyone who doesn't know that iOS is a "closed" platform at this point only has themselves to blame.

Here's an idea: Try filing that lawsuit yourself and see how quickly the Judge laughs you out of court.

Re:Bad parenting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35834298)

Your username gives you away as the Apple astroturfer that you are. Geeks might understand the difference, but the average consumer doesn't understand how locked in they are until it is too late.

Re:Bad parenting (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834328)

How is that worthy of class action? It wasn't any sort of bait-and-switch, and isn't a secret. In fact, Apple highly touts this as a reason for people to choose iOS devices.

Re:Bad parenting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833826)

I was in an Apple Store where I saw a customer come in and corner one of the employees about purchases his kid had made on an in-app iPod touch. I can't remember all he was talking about but it was something like when his kid asked for an app, he'd log in and download it for him. I do remember the last thing he asked, "What am I supposed to do? Read about all these apps before I download them for my kid?" I tried not to laugh out loud as I walked away but I could have sworn the Apple guy looked like he was trying hard not to say "Well.... yes. Yes you should do that. You're an idiot."
Come on parents, iPods aren't babysitters. You need to pay attention to what your kids are doing.

Re:Bad parenting (3, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833914)

An obvious problem with all these "stupid parent posts" is that these kids in most jurisdictions can't enter contracts without the consent of their parents or guardians, so I'm curious as to why everyone is saying "stupid parent", when they should be saying "stupid Apple lawyers".

Re:Bad parenting (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834018)

According to GP, the *parent* was the one who did the downloading/install for his kid. Kinda implies that the parent agreed to the terms on the kid's behalf anyway.

My vote is for "stupid parent" - esp. with the comment about demanding that he not be arsed to "read all about these apps" first. :/

Re:Bad parenting (2, Informative)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834146)

An obvious problem with all these "stupid parent posts" is that these kids in most jurisdictions can't enter contracts without the consent of their parents or guardians, so I'm curious as to why everyone is saying "stupid parent", when they should be saying "stupid Apple lawyers".

Um, because parents, as ADULTS, are expected to have the requisite judgment to not simply allow unfettered access to their bank accounts by their children?

Apple promptly fixed this loophole when the "child abuse" (see what I did there?) was uncovered. It was one of those, in retrospect, "ease-of-use over security" decisions, and Apple, to their credit (no pun), promptly fixed their usability-hole problem, so the issue would be done and over with.

There was no willful and wanton attempt by Apple to defraud or fleece consumers. If anyone deserves your ire, it should ultimately be the greedy App developers, not one of whom, AFAIK, has refunded a single penny of those in-app purchases that THEY DID NOT PUT REASONABLE LIMITS ON THEMSELVES.

And yes, the parents share at least some of the blame, for using their iOS devices as nothing more than a glorified pacifier/electronic restraint (like "chemical restraint") system.

WORKAROUND AVAILABLE (2)

catmistake (814204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834030)

Apple has already released a workaround for this issue:

iOS Settings/Store/AppleID/Sign Out

Also, it appears NYC is also helping out with the issue. [apple.com]

Re:Bad parenting (4, Insightful)

joh (27088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834278)

So, neglectful parents are suing Apple because they can't be fucked with to watch what their children are doing?

How about this: don't give your kid the iTunes account password?

The point is THEY WEREN'T GIVING THEIR KIDS THE PASSWORD. They typed it in for them to "buy" a free app and then the kids bought things from within that app in the 15 minute window you can buy things without having to re-type the password.

I would VERY much prefer an option to disable that password caching altogether. When I buy something I want the device to require the password each and every time I spend money.

Re:Bad parenting (1, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834340)

So, neglectful parents are suing Apple because they can't be fucked with to watch what their children are doing?

No, conscientious parents are suing Apple for preying on children. And they found out about Apple preying on their children by watching what their children were doing.

Just a thought? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833470)

Um, better parenting?

Easy Way Out (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833476)

Garen Meguerian and a team of lawyers are taking Apple to task for 'inducing' children to spend hundreds of dollars of their parents' money on in-app game purchases.

I guess taking a multinational corp to court is easier than being a responsible parent these days.

Here's a hint: if they are too young and dumb^H^H^H^Hnaive to be trusted with a toy or device that lets them spend money, a parent who's worth a damn will wait until they're old enough to handle it before giving it to them. A parent who's worth a damn would blame themselves for not knowing what they were giving them too if that was the case.

No, nothing is ever your fault and it's always somebody else who causes every problem you have in life. Kids spent a ton of money using a device you gave them? Blame the company. Can't lose weight because you eat more calories than you burn? Sue McDonalds. War on personal responsibility.

Re:Easy Way Out (3, Informative)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833570)

OTOH I've had my kids' phones "virused" with pay-per-month crap... The invitation is sent as a text, and it's the typical "Hey check this out!" and all the kid has to do is reply. Bang! $10/month for ever for a monthly fortune. I don't know what stuff Apple was pulling, but certainly the texts my kids got were deceiving and not clear. And T-Mobile was complicit in allowing these operators to continue, no doubt getting a big slice of the action. I asked my daughter if she ever subscribed intentionally; she didn't even know she had subscribed. And T-Mobile admitted when I bitched about it that the come-on was often deceptive.

Re:Easy Way Out (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833686)

What if you blocked all incoming X except Whitelisted stuff? Only his 4 friends and say 5 companies can text him?

Re:Easy Way Out (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833764)

What legitimate reason would a company ever have to text children? And why would you allow more companies than friends?

Re:Easy Way Out (3, Interesting)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833792)

This is one of those issues of parenthood.... My daughter sends some 7K per month. Of those, 2 in the last year were bad (resulting in extra charges). That to me is responsible use. (And lest people start yelling at me about her 'excessive' use, we don't have cable TV, she's on the honor roll and carries an A to A+ average in school, blah, blah, blah. She's not a slacker.)

So imposing draconian limits on her use is not the answer. The fault lies with deceptive and fraudulent marketing tactics. teaching her to be more careful, yes. Punishing, no.

Re:Easy Way Out (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834222)

This is one of those issues of parenthood.... My daughter sends some 7K per month

I'm curious: Just HOW thick are the callouses on her thumbs?

Re:Easy Way Out (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834302)

She uses her fingernails, filed to sharp points.

Re:Easy Way Out (2, Informative)

Drakino (10965) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833806)

I don't know what stuff Apple was pulling

From Day 1, Apple has had parental controls that can disable the ability to make any App Store purchases on the device. And by default the phone would ask for the iTunes password whenever a new app was downloaded. The problem initially is that in app purchases didn't require a password every time. Apple has since corrected that.

Outside of that, Apple has done nothing. App developers are the ones putting in the in app purchases and promoting them in a way that children were getting to them. There may be some liability since Apple does have a curated app store, but it's going to be hard to prove intent that Apple was in any way doing this intentionally.

Re:Easy Way Out (3, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833880)

OK, that's different from the crap T-Mobile was pulling....

My kids' iPods are hooked to their debit (cash) cards. So if they spend money, it's their own - and limited by the amount of cash they have. They spend wisely. (Amazing how frugal kids get when they're spending their own money.)

Re:Easy Way Out (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834086)

Right, shouldn't all parents do this? It will just give errors "you're out of funds this month until you reload".

Re:Easy Way Out (0)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834204)

OTOH I've had my kids' phones "virused" with pay-per-month crap... The invitation is sent as a text, and it's the typical "Hey check this out!" and all the kid has to do is reply. Bang! $10/month for ever for a monthly fortune. I don't know what stuff Apple was pulling, but certainly the texts my kids got were deceiving and not clear. And T-Mobile was complicit in allowing these operators to continue, no doubt getting a big slice of the action. I asked my daughter if she ever subscribed intentionally; she didn't even know she had subscribed. And T-Mobile admitted when I bitched about it that the come-on was often deceptive.

These were in-App purchases. No "texts" were required; just a kind of "pop-up" IN THE GAME.

Apple wasn't "pulling" anything, dumbass. And PROMPTLY fixed the problem (which was a, in retrospect, stupid usability decision, related, IIRC, to the fact that the App Store remained "logged-in" during a "session", once someone had logged-in to make a purchase (like purchasing that new game to get your kid to STFU)).

Tip: You might want to do some actual research before posting the next time.

Re:Easy Way Out (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834266)

oohOohhh OOOOH! Well reasoned and said. I guess Apple doesn't vet and approve each and every item in the App store, and never ever pulls anything it considers offensive to its strict code....

Anyway, I was reacting to the quick draw "blame the parents" crap, not so much the Apple bashing.

Never mind that fact... (3, Insightful)

Endophage (1685212) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833494)

... that parents are buying their children (who clearly aren't yet older enough to understand financial responsibility) expensive pieces of technology so that they don't actually have to parent or spend time with their children. IMO it's becoming far to common place for parents to sit their children in front of a TV or video game so that they don't have to keep them occupied. Who told them parenting wasn't hard work?

I'm not saying Apple hasn't been somewhat irresponsible for making it so easy to run up bills but a class action lawsuit is a little extreme for something that the parents are equally, if not more responsible for.

Re:Never mind that fact... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833604)

Who told them parenting wasn't hard work?

The government.

Or, single mothers who want to show off their amazing independence^H selfishness by raising a bunch of bastard children with no father figure around even though it's well known that children who come from two-parent homes are much more likely to graduate from school, get decent jobs, stay out of jail, avoid becoming teen parents, etc. But those single mothers love their kids so much they think this doesn't apply to them. Course a lot of them are using WIC and other forms of leech^H band-aids for their poor decision-making^H vote-buying programs^H welfare so again government has some involvement.

Single mothers: the most selfish creatures on the planet but they will try to make you feel guilty for seeing the reality. They will say "but look how hard I have to work to make ends meet" ... well yeah, you're doing everything the hard way, of course that's ... hard. What matters is the disadvantage you're putting your kids at not the fact that this isn't convenient for you.

Women have about 14 different forms of non-surgical birth control available to them. Men have precisely one. Do the math. When you meet a man raised by a single mother you can always tell. They're either wusses or they're so insecure that they try to be macho thug gangstas to prove how not-wussie they are cuz they have something they feel a need to compensate for. Seriously, quit doing this shit. This country can't take too many more generations of bastard kids who don't respect anything because they couldn't find a reason to respect you.

Re:Never mind that fact... (1)

Endophage (1685212) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833738)

I really should have emphasized the sarcasm and personal frustration of "Who told them parenting wasn't hard work?" I agree with everything you've laid out. Too many people don't realize the work required to raise a child. I do infact love that there is a charity that will pay drug an alcohol abusers to be sterilized so that they can't have children. It may be controversial but at least somebody is being proactive about improving this messed up society.

Re:Never mind that fact... (2)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833888)

To get a driver's license you have to pass a written and driving test.

To get a concealed weapons permit you have to pass a written test and proficiency test.

In some cities to have a dog you need a license.

To spawn, all it takes is boredom and ignorance.

Re:Never mind that fact... (3, Interesting)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834120)

But if you want to raise a child and don't want to spawn, it takes $25k and two years and you better have no dings on your mental health record.

We have friends who always wanted to adopt, but they are in a different state working for a few years. There's no point in starting the process there, because when they move (and they'll plan to move), they lose all the money and all the progress and would have to start over.

So they just made their own baby. Of course they can take care of their own, but that means there's some un-adopted baby out there who just lost parents.

Re:Never mind that fact... (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834132)

To get a driver's license you have to pass a written and driving test.

To get a concealed weapons permit you have to pass a written test and proficiency test.

In some cities to have a dog you need a license.

To spawn, all it takes is boredom and ignorance.

I think there is actually a sort of logic to that.

If we as a civilization have become so decadent and degenerate that parents are no longer willing to do whatever is necessary to provide their children with a good, stable, loving home so that hopefully their children can have a better life than they did, then we are already so far gone that we have deeper problems than a licensing system is likely to solve.

That's without getting into issues like: has the government displayed such competence and excellence and wisdom in all the other things it tries to handle these days that you could make a compelling case for its worthiness of being entrusted with such an important decision as parenting?

Re:Never mind that fact... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834352)

This is just a natural progression of what we are doing.
When you take away real consequences for an action you get less responsible actions.
When you take care of someones kids not matter what you get alot more people having children they
can not or will not take care of.
If every time your kid drops their laptop you buy them another one within 24 hours. They are going to break a fuckload of laptops.
Rental cars are treated like shit.

These are all things that we know.
We know them right up till this knowledge prevents us from voting for some entitlement for ourselves or "For the Children".
Then we forget.

Re:Never mind that fact... (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834044)

I really should have emphasized the sarcasm and personal frustration of "Who told them parenting wasn't hard work?" I agree with everything you've laid out. Too many people don't realize the work required to raise a child. I do infact love that there is a charity that will pay drug an alcohol abusers to be sterilized so that they can't have children. It may be controversial but at least somebody is being proactive about improving this messed up society.

Yes, but truth hurts especially when it involves facts we'd rather not admit about things that tend to get idolized like motherhood. Done wisely there'd be no need to put it on a pedestal because it would stand on the merits of its own inherent virtues. Done poorly the damage it does to society is quite real simply because of the awesome responsibility it represents. Personally I am all for adults doing whatever they want to do, up until they allow their bad decision-making to affect others.

Far as the sterilization charity is concerned, it's on a voluntary basis. Someone in that category who does not wish to be sterilized can simply elect not to seek the aid of this particular charity. End of controversy. What is it about adults making decisions for their own lives that would ever be such a big deal?

The only thing surprising me is that the AC wasn't instantly modded "-1 Troll" but I am sure they're getting around to it. How dare someone state an unpleasant truth without first kissing ass, apologizing, begging the reader not to be offended, reassuring us of their benevolence, disclaiming claims that were never actually made to appease the knee-jerks, etc. Doesn't he know that we're living in an age where disagreement with someone makes them the devil and everything they say is automatically malicious?

Re:Never mind that fact... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833626)

You insufferable bastard. DO NOT BLAME PARENTS. Parents are not at fault. Especially do not discuss parenting in relation to the poor performance of their children at school. That is strictly a funding problem, you incredible fucking jerk.

Re:Never mind that fact... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833780)

lolumadbro?

Re:Never mind that fact... (1)

ganjadude (952775) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833978)

/s?

Re:Never mind that fact... (2)

superdude72 (322167) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833728)

I'm assuming the kids are playing the game on the parents' iphone. Nothing wrong with keeping the kids occupied on a long car trip. Would you rather they count out-of-state license plates or something equally mind-numbing?

Re:Never mind that fact... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35834148)

Some books, a walkman, and a pillow worked for me. Maybe bring a ball and hit a rest stop once in a while.

Kids nowadays...

Long car trip? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834198)

You could always do what my parents did when I was a kid.

Talk with them. Teach them things you think they should know. Discuss your family history. Bring some books along that they can read aloud and *discuss* with you. Ask them stuff. Sing songs - and make a few up while you're at it. Talk about what makes the weather they see outside, or teach them the different kinds of trees/cacti/mountains/etc they see passing by the window. If you have more than one kid, supply a couple of notebooks and pencils, and hold an impromptu art contest. Make up debates, and always take the other side, forcing them to use logic and reason (hell, *teach* them logic and reasoning while you're at it).

Even if the kid(s) are too young to be all that articulate - you can use the time to help them improve their vocabulary, pronunciation, and to teach them things - even if they're sitting in the back seat and you're up front.

Long story short, teach them to engage their minds and become creative, not just ignore them into becoming passive consumers of entertainment.

As a bonus, by doing this you help make your kid into someone that wants to talk to you first when it really matters later on.

Re:Long car trip? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35834294)

If the parent is the driver of the vehicle and single adult present, then this option is not really an option. A few senteces here or there can help break the trance of the drive. But trying to have any kind of sustained conversation can lead to accidents. It's just as bad as talking on the phone and driving.

Re:Never mind that fact... (1)

knarf (34928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834240)

Would you rather they count out-of-state license plates or something equally mind-numbing?

Yes, of course I would rather have my children come up with something to entertain themselves then to have them spoon-fed with commercial drivel. I remember these car trips from when I was younger. Every power line looked like a cable car or railway line, license plates were interesting as well - but this is Europe so they might be more varied than in the US - and the great blue (and all to often gray) yonder was (and is) full of surprises.

And another thing... assuming that there is more than one grown-up in the car, that person could maybe do something with the kids? Try it, it's fun!

No appletainment in this house, thank you...

Re:Never mind that fact... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833766)

Apple take a cut of all sales. All sales have to go through Apple. If you've seen the ipod/phone/pad games, you will know they're 99% kiddy shit, and Apple does not provide a password option to prevent purchases from the device. They want this to happen, despite people asking for password/pin protection. You can't even download "free" games without Apple having you complete credit card details. That's obvious a problem, and they want it precisely clock up sales like this.

The parents are buying a toy/gadget and letting the kids play with it. It should come with some form of authentication on as a default to prevent this situation. It doesn't and Apple won't listen to customer requests. Fuck them, I hope they are torn to bits with this class action. There'll be no money at the end of it, but the publicity is going to cost them a fortune in lost sales.

Re:Never mind that fact... (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834058)

Apple does not provide a password option to prevent purchases from the device.

Funny, there's a pretty simple way to prevent in-app purchases [cultofmac.com] built right in.

And if you think it's too hard to change a handful of parental control settings on your device, consider whether or not you'd allow a stranger to babysit your child without spending even a few moments getting to know them and finding out their name.

As if purchasing an expensive device to babysit your child wasn't bad enough, you want us to feel sympathy for parents who can't even spend a few moments disabling in-app purchases on that device? Tough shit.

Re:Never mind that fact... (2)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833932)

Parenting is hard work. And sometimes you have a choice between having a whiny and crabby kid or giving the kid something to entertain him or her for a few minutes. If you want to argue that whiny and crabby is better because it doesn't involve electronic diversion, be my guest, but you'll have to be pretty darn convincing before I'll buy it.

So, if I've got a young child, I might download an app to amuse the child for a few minutes. In doing so, I have to enter my password, and the phone is then authorized to buy stuff for something like fifteen minutes. A young child isn't going to understand money as anything other than bills and coins, and I sure don't know that this particular app is designed to suck money out of me if a child plays it.

Fundamentally, it's a trap, since the app relies on me not knowing enough about it to avoid it. It's a trojan - get the user to install this and profit. I'm willing to take my chances with my kid and the real world, but I can't monitor my kid at all times, and wouldn't if I could, and so I'm at a distinct disadvantage against people who deliberately try to entice my kid into things. I can always say no if it's something advertised, but if it's something the kid has control over without my knowledge there's really nothing I can do.

Re:Never mind that fact... (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834082)

Disable in-app purchases across the board. Then your kid will ask you if they can buy something, and you can evaluate each request on its merits.

Re:Never mind that fact... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833950)

... that parents are buying their children (who clearly aren't yet older enough to understand financial responsibility) expensive pieces of technology so that they don't actually have to parent or spend time with their children. IMO it's becoming far to common place for parents to sit their children in front of a TV or video game so that they don't have to keep them occupied. Who told them parenting wasn't hard work?

Problem is most parents don't have a PhD from Parenting University. Junior or little Miss popped out and Mum and Dad have been on a running treadmill ever since, with scarcely a moment to see into the Crystal Ball of the future, to see what mischief their progeny will be up to next. Parents can use a little help from companies. Particularly where there is a sort of precedent.

I'm not saying Apple hasn't been somewhat irresponsible for making it so easy to run up bills but a class action lawsuit is a little extreme for something that the parents are equally, if not more responsible for.

Roll this back about 10 years and it's kids texting an added $5,000 to their parents mobile phone.

Re:Never mind that fact... (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834280)

I'm not saying Apple hasn't been somewhat irresponsible for making it so easy to run up bills

I am.

Apple put a system-wide configuration option in iOS even BEFORE all this. It is up to the adult to use normal diligence when handing a device linked to their credit card info to their children and simply walking away.

I also believe that it is/was incumbent on the APP DEVELOPERS to limit the number of "smurfberries', or whatever, purchased during a particular time-period.

But, I guess everything is ultimately Apple's fault here in Slashdot-land.

Although I do find this business model stupid (5, Insightful)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833526)

I can't really say Apple is doing anything wrong here. They have not only the option to disable said purchases available, they also went the extra step of modifying their password handling. Seems just like another case of stupid parenting to me.

Re:Although I do find this business model stupid (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833674)

The business model is far from stupid. It is in fact brillant. It is the exact same model as Magic the Gathering used and many other games and products. It is in fact the old give away the razor and sell the blades model, or the cheap printer and expensive ink model. It makes lots of money and provides a reoccurring revenue stream. As business models go it is great and very successful.
As a consumer I have no interest in a video game where I winning will come down to how much I am willing to spend. But that is just me. I also didn't buy into the whole Magic the Gathering thing. Now buying expansions and extra levels isn't that bad of deal if you really enjoy the game.

Re:Although I do find this business model stupid (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833758)

I can't really say Apple is doing anything wrong here. They have not only the option to disable said purchases available, they also went the extra step of modifying their password handling. Seems just like another case of stupid parenting to me.

Yes... but have you ever had a child in a public school? A child who is failing? Who do you blame? Parents or school?

There is a logic here, but it escapes me.

Re:Although I do find this business model stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833822)

I can't really say Apple is doing anything wrong here. They have not only the option to disable said purchases available, they also went the extra step of modifying their password handling. Seems just like another case of stupid parenting to me.

Yes... but have you ever had a child in a public school? A child who is failing? Who do you blame? Parents or school?

There is a logic here, but it escapes me.

In the case of a child having difficulty in school, I blame the parents more than the school because I believe in personal responsibility. So--in the case of whether to blame Apple or parents, I think I will also blame parents. You were being facetious, right?

Re:Although I do find this business model stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833860)

It depends on the situation. Sometimes the child, sometimes the parent, and sometimes the school.

Re:Although I do find this business model stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35834264)

It depends on the situation.

It's a funding problem. It is always a lack of funding. How many times do the teachers unions and their senators have to tell you people?

Re:Although I do find this business model stupid (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833796)

Until the password handling changed it was a bit of an issue. Having a "live" password for 15 minutes was like holding a ticking grenade. i.e. once you'd entered your password to download the free game (fine) it was also valid for in app purchases until the cooldown wore off. That I think was the major source of this issue, as you've said, now fixed (I think?).

As a developer using in app purchases ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833956)

Although I do find this business model stupid ...

What is stupid about in app purchases? Admittedly I have a technical product rather than a game, Perpenso Calc [perpenso.com] , but if works along the freemium model. The free version offers scientific functionality including fractions, complex numbers and metric conversions however advanced features like RPN come in from in app purchases. Also this app is really five calculators in one. Rather than offer separate calculators for scientific, statistics, business, hex and bill tip I allow the latter four to be added via in app purchase. Another alternative would be putting all five calculators in one paid app at a high price point. Personally I prefer the in app purchase approach. It allows customers to customize the app and only pay for the functionality they actually want?

If you have an alternative to in app purchase I'd be happy to hear about it.

Its really is very bad (-1, Troll)

dotdotslashdotdot (2042436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833532)

One parent got 10,000$ bill [freeblogspot.org] for this. And before you cry "bad parenting", you can't disable that feature. You/your kid just installs some innocent and free game, and then when you are absent, he jacks up the phone bill. Yes, the phone bill, no CC needed.

Re:Its really is very bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833610)

And before you cry "bad parenting", you can't disable that feature. You/your kid just figures out you can slide to unlock your Android phone now, and then when you are absent, he jacks up the phone bill by calling China. Yes, the phone bill, no CC needed.

Bad parenting. You wouldn't let your kid drink Windex; why the fuck do you think you're not responsible for securing your phone? Because it's a phone? Come *on* - you *know* usage can cost ridiculous charges, even without the use of fancy-schmancy smartphones and apps!

Re:Its really is very bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833616)

You can't buy anything on an iphone without a CC

Re:Its really is very bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833618)

Ignore the goatse link in parent.

Re:Its really is very bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833636)

here is a thought, why the fuck is the kid granted untethered, un monitored internet access on a 600$ phone dipshit

hope the little fucker saw some snuff films on there as well, do us all a favor

Slimy (0)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833534)

Lets face it, this is a really slimy business model. For Apple to allow it is atrocious. There are much better alternatives, such as a short window to allow returns. I have kids with iOS devices, and thus hoping they win. Bad parenting? I don't have time to play every game to know its business model, but do try to stick to pay only games just to try my best to avoid them.

Re:Slimy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833732)

Bad parenting? I don't have time to play every game to know its business model...

Yup. How long does it take to play through a kids game once and figure out, "oh hey, they'll take my money if I do ". Further, I highly doubt you have 100 of these games to review.

Re:Slimy (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833852)

Lets face it, this is a really slimy business model. For Apple to allow it is atrocious. There are much better alternatives, such as a short window to allow returns. I have kids with iOS devices, and thus hoping they win. Bad parenting? I don't have time to play every game to know its business model, but do try to stick to pay only games just to try my best to avoid them.

I agree with you about the business model. That's why I don't buy iPhones. That's why I wouldn't buy them for anyone else, especially someone too young to be expected to understand financial responsibility. Problem solved. If Apple starts feeling lost sales they can do something about this -- they certainly have enough control over the platform and the App Store. If Apple doesn't care about that and feels satisfied with their sales figures, I can continue using and recommending something else.

One way or another I'm not going to end up in this position. If I somehow did anyway, I'd chalk it up to another lesson learned. It wouldn't occur to me to run to a lawyer hoping he could bail me out of it. I might do that if force or fraud was involved, but me making a bad decision when I should have informed myself does not constitute fraud on the part of the other party.

Re:Slimy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833890)

As long as you don't have time to teach your kids not to be strippers. Because the world needs more of them, thank you.

Re:Slimy (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834016)

Do your kids understand how long-distance works on your phone?

Re:Slimy (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834144)

Newsflash: if you give your kids the ability to spend your money, they will, generally speaking, spend it on "flashy things".

A simple answer to that is not to give them the ability to spend money. Last I checked, all purchases on iPhone require entering the Apple ID password. So you can create an account for them and tie the card to it so that you can buy apps for their phone, but you only need to not tell them the password.

Alternatively, open an account for them at the bank, and tie a debit card from that account to Apple ID. That way they can only spend as much as you deposit into their account. It's probably even better, because it teaches to manage money.

Paid apps also do in app purchase (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834268)

... try to stick to pay only games just to try my best to avoid them.

I have an app that is available in both paid and free versions, both offer in app purchases to expand functionality.

Lets face it, this is a really slimy business model ...

My app, Perpenso Calc [perpenso.com] is five calculators in one: scientific, statistics, business, hex and bill/tip. I could have one high priced paid app that offers all five calculators. Or I could have five separate low priced calculators. However I think the freemium model works well for my case. The scientific calculator is part of the free app but advanced features like RPN and the statistics, business, hex and bill/tip calculators are all available via in app purchase. In app purchase avoids paying for functionality you don't need in the single app scenario and it avoids paying for redundant functionality in the multiple apps scenario. If you have a better idea I'd love to hear it.

Admittedly my app is not a game but I don't see what is inherently slimy about making new levels and optional item available via in app purchase. It seems to be an improvement over the old model of having to have a free lite version for trial purposes and a paid version with a complete set of items and levels. In app purchase also handles the expansion pack issue.

Now I admit that Apple had a hole in their implementation of in app purchase in that the authorization for the purchase/download of the app itself would also authorize in app purchases for some relatively small number of minutes but they have fixed that. Plus in Apple's defense in app purchases could have been disabled on a particular device.

Deny them their goodies? OH NOOOO (0)

cry0g3n (732738) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833546)

the nanny statehood marches on...
of course parents CAN'T do that, they would be HARMING their poor precious bobbles by denying them their (CR)apple product that everyone must have..
to quote Homer, "Can't someone else do it?"
cryo

Clarify this for the non-iOS users... (1)

dingo_kinznerhook (1544443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833562)

So when you purchase something inside an iOS app, that app has the ability to use your current iTunes login to charge money to your iTunes account? Is this a permission that's specifically noted when you download an iOS app that has this ability or can all apps do this without notification? I get that kids would probably just click through any 'You are about to be charged" notices.

Re:Clarify this for the non-iOS users... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833680)

So when you purchase something inside an iOS app, that app has the ability to use your current iTunes login to charge money to your iTunes account?

As long as you are logged in, yes. Otherwise you have to enter your password. A login expires after ten, fifteen minutes.

Is this a permission that's specifically noted when you download an iOS app that has this ability or can all apps do this without notification?

You can't toggle it on an application basis but you can block in-app-purchases completely.

Re:Clarify this for the non-iOS users... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833714)

So when you purchase something inside an iOS app, that app has the ability to use your current iTunes login to charge money to your iTunes account?

No. You have to put in your password.

Its really is that bad (-1)

dotslashdotdotslash (2042458) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833614)

One parent got 10,000$ bill [freeblogspot.org] for this. And before you cry "bad parenting", you can't disable that feature. You/your kid just installs some innocent and free game, and then when you are absent, he jacks up the phone bill. Yes, the phone bill, no CC needed. You can disable app purchases, you can't for some stupid reason disable in-app purchases...

Re:Its really is that bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833690)

It can be enables/disabled easily:
Settings>General>Restrictions>In-App Purchases

Re:Its really is that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35834110)

Are you serious?

  "Lookie, you can stop your kids from doing stupid stuff, all you have to do is dig through four levels of menus, starting in the correct place. It can only take a little longer if you have no idea that the setting exists or is needed, or start looking in the wrong place. And you'll only have to do this anti-scumbag check for each and every little silly game your kids have access to!"

Yep, sounds exactly like that famous Apple "user-friendliness".

Re:Its really is that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833708)

Actually you can disable it. Set Settings->General->Restrictions->In-App Purchases to "Off".

Re:Its really is that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833762)

under settings/general/restrictions/allowed content. there is the option to turn on or off In-App purchases..so it can be disable, parents just need to look for it.

Re:Its really is that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833772)

I dont know what iDevice you have, or if you even own one, but if you go to general then restrictions there is a place to turn off in app purchase, please check in future before posting incorect statements.

Re:Its really is that bad (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833774)

And before you cry "bad parenting", you can't disable that feature.

The feature you disable is the "child has access to smartphone which is capable of making purchases" feature. You see, what you do is you walk over to the child, and you take the phone out of the child's hands...

Re:Its really is that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833878)

Wrong. iOS apps are tied to the iTunes account, not the carrier billing. Remember there are millions of iOS devices sold that are not iPhones -such as iPod touch & iPad.

Protect the Children! (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833622)

Lets toss money at this team of lawyers to save our children

Re:Protect the Children! (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833894)

Lets toss money at this team of lawyers to save our children

You mean, let's point this team of lawyers at Apple and see if they can draw money out of them and then possibly share the remaining 30% with us.

parents (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833668)

I don't normally say this, but one must really ask why the parents need to buy kids these things or why parents need to let kids buy things in games. If a parent is responsible enough to get the money to buy an iToy, then makes a decision to buy an iGame, then makes the decision to provide the kids to the credit cards to buy iJunk, Why is it Apple fault that the parents then get a huge iBill. You don't see McDonald's getting sued because parents take their kids to the store and buy them McPoison. The kids were induced by propaganda just like in the case of Apple.

It was like the uproar over Beavis and Butthead many years ago. Even though parents were evidently responsible enough to get a tv, pay the electricity and the cable bill, they were not deemed responsible enough to monitor what the kids watched. Therefor MTV got in trouble when Beavis and Butthead tortured animals of set them afire. Evidently the kids would do the same and it was TV, not the parents fault.

So yes children are impressionable. Parents have to set limits on what kids are and are not able to do. But when parent make an explicitly decision to allow kids access to something, either by driving them there, or ordering a product, or giving access to a credit card, or whatever, it is no longer the companies fault. We saw this when kids were racking up huge phone and texting bills. I don't know what the issue was. If the kid can't use the phone, they don't get one, or have a prepaid.

Re:parents (1)

mlingojones (919531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833816)

Actually, McDonalds *has* been sued because parents buy their kids McPoison. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2502431.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Thankfully, it ended up getting thrown out, but still...

Re:parents (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833864)

Perhaps is nothing more than whether a service should by default be enabled or not.

I'm a great one for a loud outburst of swearing every time I get a new computer with Microsoft Office on it, because I have to spend hours going through and turning off all the enabled by default options which I hate (and they are so clever at hiding the on/off buttons for.)

Where a purchasing ability is enabled by default, I can see that being a problem, particularly when they can't possibly be convincingly daft enough to believe kids won't have their hands on these devices and have access.

Apple is the responsible party (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833698)

From the complaint: "The sale of an App and/or Game Currency is a transaction between Apple and the consumer. There is no privity between the user and the developer of the App...."

They're so right. Remember how Apple won't approve apps which do transactions that don't go through Apple? This is where that bites Apple. Apple is the seller, and the developers are its suppliers. There's no contractual relationship between the consumer and the developer. ("Privity" refers to the legal concept that if A has a contract with B, and B has a contract with C, A does not have a contract with C.)

Yes there is (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833798)

There's no contractual relationship between the consumer and the developer.

Yes there is, because with an in-app purchase the consumer is saying they wish to give the app writer money in exchange for something.

What you are doing is like trying to sue the cash register maker because a kid bought something they shouldn't have.

Re:Yes there is (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834040)

Yes there is, because with an in-app purchase the consumer is saying they wish to give the app writer money in exchange for something.

But they're saying it to Apple. As the complaint points out, the app developer never sees the customer's payment data.

Now, if Apple's system let third parties collect payments directly, there would be a contractual relationship between the end user and the app developer. But Apple doesn't allow that. All the money passes through Apple's hands, and they take a cut. So they get hit with the liability if the transaction is illegal.

Apple Faces Class-Action Suit For In-App Purchases (3, Insightful)

infiniphonic (657188) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833722)

Do people really plug in their credit cards into iTunes and then let there kids just do what they want with a device that has access to that resource? There is no way i would even leave a credit card attached to that kind of account, let alone let a child have unrestricted access that device. I have two iPod touches that my kids play with. At this point they are too young to grasp the concepts of accounts or passwords, but that day is coming. I only do iTunes cards so that there is no way that any financial damage can go beyond the amount i have already pre-paid (usually in the $15 to $25 range). A little common sense goes a long way in this world, but i guess that's asking too much.

Press the Big Shiny Button for a Suprise! (5, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833724)

Would you like to buy a cookie for your pet?

o_o

It's a really good cookie!

O_o

With chocolate and stuff!

O_O

Your pet will wuv oo!

@_@

You bought a cookie!
It was nummy!
Your pet wuvs oo!
 
Buy another?

@_@

Yay! Your pet weally, weally wuvs oo!

[repeat n times]

Thanks for buying all the cookies for your very happy pet!
Charging $483.75 to account.

+_+

Re:Press the Big Shiny Button for a Suprise! (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834160)

Would you like to buy a new Macbook?

o_o

It's a really good Macbook!

O_o

With Thunderbolt and stuff!

O_O

Steve Jobs will wuv oo!

@_@

Better than Android (1)

yogidog98 (1800862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833740)

At least Apple allows you to set a password that has to be entered before any app store purchase. That's one of my biggest frustrations with my Android phone is that there's no way to set an market purchase password. My kids hit a couple of buttons in pop-up while playing angry birds, and whoop, I've just spent $10.

Re:Better than Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833842)

At least Apple allows you to set a password that has to be entered before any app store purchase. That's one of my biggest frustrations with my Android phone is that there's no way to set an market purchase password. My kids hit a couple of buttons in pop-up while playing angry birds, and whoop, I've just spent $10.

Blasphemy! This is Slashdot! Google good! Apple bad!

Re:Better than Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35834162)

I just got my wife an iphone and I was thinking the opposite. At least for free downloads. I'd just want it to let her download it unless it costs something, in which case we'd want to put a password in as a requirement. It seems like there should be a really easy middle ground here.

Questionable Business Practices (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833840)

I'm not sure that Apple should itself be held responsible for the slimy practices of third-party developers (except that they do review all apps and should therefore be aware of questionable business practices), but I still think what some of these developers are doing is pretty screwed up. Games specifically designed to get as much money from kids who don't know how much money they're spending are borderline unethical. Their practices are similar to those of companies that sell ringtones designed to appeal to children but which require an expensive monthly subscription fee that's disclosed only in the ad's fine print.

Borderline unethical? Its fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35833912)

there is nothing borderline about it, its fraud pure and simple

Re:Questionable Business Practices (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834112)

> I'm not sure that Apple should itself be held responsible for the slimy practices of third-party developers

They are a platform tyrant.

They have chosen to make themselves responsible.

Now that there are consequences, they should own up to them.

Now web games do the same sort of thing. Although it's more difficult to get carried away with it.

The iTunes approach to in-app purchases is kind of like a slot machine that takes credit cards.

I fail to see why Apple REQUIRES a CC (1)

spiffydudex (1458363) | more than 3 years ago | (#35833906)

This has perplexed me since I first bought an IPod 4th gen. Why on earth are you required to attach a credit card to an account? I fail to see the need for it. As far as kids racking up bills...That would immediately solve the problem. All the kids would have access to are the free apps. Heck, even something similar to the way Android handles app purchases.

I've owned an iPhone 3GS and now I am using a Samsung Captivate. Personally, I know iPhones are "Hip" but, if I were buying a phone for my kid I'd take the Android system. Simply because of the way Google handles app purchases and transactions.

Re:I fail to see why Apple REQUIRES a CC (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35834322)

It doesn't require a credit card. You can have an iTunes store account without a credit card and fund it entirely through purchased iTunes gift cards that you can buy with cash in a store.

Details on setting up are left as an exercise to the reader with access to google and about 15 seconds of spare time.

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