Apple refuses to refund mother whose six-year-old boy spent $16,000 on Sonic Forces

Apple should be embarrassed but the parent who ignored all security, alerts, warnings and basic logic shouldn't be punished?
To be fair I imagine this whole situation has been extremely stressful, so that enough should be a good wake up call to lock things down with kids. I don't think it is fair she should have to pay 16k. She lodged a fraud claim almost ASAP but the company Chase stuffed her around for like 3 months then finally just told her "ahhhh contact apple". Then Apple being the American Corporate scumbags they are "Gone past 60 days so our money now muhahaha".
 
So many failures here:
1. Mother failed to lock down ipad and supervise kid
2. Credit card company did not think more than 160 transactions was suss
3. Chase for taking more than 3 months to simply tell her to contact apple after she lodged a fraud claim
4. Apple for being scumbag Apple. I was thinking of buying a new ipad but I really do not want to give those aholes my money if they treat their loyal customers like that.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,141   +2,124
To be fair I imagine this whole situation has been extremely stressful, so that enough should be a good wake up call to lock things down with kids. I don't think it is fair she should have to pay 16k. She lodged a fraud claim almost ASAP but the company Chase stuffed her around for like 3 months then finally just told her "ahhhh contact apple". Then Apple being the American Corporate scumbags they are "Gone past 60 days so our money now muhahaha".
That's madness in and of itself though, if 16k went missing from my account, I would not stop hounding my bank, the companies that took my money, I'd be shouting from the roof tops. I wouldn't be able to just leave it alone for 3 months hoping my bank might get back to me.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,100   +3,262
That's madness in and of itself though, if 16k went missing from my account, I would not stop hounding my bank, the companies that took my money, I'd be shouting from the roof tops. I wouldn't be able to just leave it alone for 3 months hoping my bank might get back to me.
Agreed - there's something fishy about this entire story in fact... Mom ignoring emails from Apple that must have been showing up every day or 2... mom blithely letting $16,000 in charges sit around.... makes me wonder if she knew EXACTLY what had happened and was hoping that she could take advantage of either her credit card company or Apple...

I wonder if the stuff she's saying now is simply on the advice from her lawyer...
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 374   +303
My bank - and your bank probably say - good news we have increased the limit of your c/c to $35 000 or some such BS .
I control the use of my cards - only one can do online transactions. None can take money from ATMs . On my visa/debit the limit is $300 - if I buy a washing machine etc - I bump the limit for the transaction.
I keep my C/C limit low .
I scratch out every CVC number - which is in HIGH contrast .
I treat my cards like cash - ie don't leave them around to be sighted .
A shoulder surfer knows the first 4 digits is the bank - so only needs to remember 12 numbers ( so 3 or 6 items if he uses associations ) an expiry date , and cvc .
Turn off all transactions you don't need - international , atm or whatever , reduce limits , scratch out CVC & don't leave it around .
Only store on Netflix, Amazon , Google, Apple, paypal and no where else .
Make sure online shopping sites don't store your details .
Use paypal for non-common online transactions - don't store details in cookie on your browser for easy shopping.
Get Sms for every transaction.
use at least 2 factor for bank
 

Bp968

Posts: 218   +157
The entire ecosystem is set up through Apple including them getting a cut through in app purchases. Everything allowed goes through them. They are ultimately responsible because they need to control everything. Anybody else I would agree with you.

Exactly. Apple has 4800$ (30%) of her (now interest accruing) dollars in its gigantic bank vault.

The reason they never want to refund this total garbage trash is because its the equivalent of a slot machine. When you yank the bar a few hundred times and suddenly panic realizing what you've done you can't just refund it. Its much worse then a casino because at least a casino gives you the chance to win actual money and controls access to the place to keep out children.

Does no one else notice the fact that real products that cost real money to stock, ship, package, etc have better return policies than these garbage digital "goods"? At least if her kid bought a car for 16k and they refused to refund it she could sell the damn thing and make some of her money back, or even use it. She can't do jack with this digital slot machine trash.

Personally I could get behind a legally mandated 30 or 60 day return policy for digital "microtransactions" (micro?!) like these. If your product has so little value that a significant portion of your user base refunds their micro transactions before 30-60 days then maybe they aren't valuable to begin with?
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,100   +3,262
Exactly. Apple has 4800$ (30%) of her (now interest accruing) dollars in its gigantic bank vault.

The reason they never want to refund this total garbage trash is because its the equivalent of a slot machine. When you yank the bar a few hundred times and suddenly panic realizing what you've done you can't just refund it. Its much worse then a casino because at least a casino gives you the chance to win actual money and controls access to the place to keep out children.

Does no one else notice the fact that real products that cost real money to stock, ship, package, etc have better return policies than these garbage digital "goods"? At least if her kid bought a car for 16k and they refused to refund it she could sell the damn thing and make some of her money back, or even use it. She can't do jack with this digital slot machine trash.

Personally I could get behind a legally mandated 30 or 60 day return policy for digital "microtransactions" (micro?!) like these. If your product has so little value that a significant portion of your user base refunds their micro transactions before 30-60 days then maybe they aren't valuable to begin with?
Returning a physical item is easier simply because there is only ONE of it.... If I buy a computer and I change my mind and return it, the computer is no longer mine - it goes back to where I bought it from...

A digital item is very different... As soon as I buy it, I have it... but if I "return" it - I might STILL have it....

Apple might have 30% of her money but... what about the other 70%?!?!? Why are we focusing on Apple? To repeat my post from earlier - if you bought a copy of MS Windows from Bestbuy and wanted to return it, you wouldn't be contacting Microsoft!
 

brucek

Posts: 812   +1,130
TechSpot Elite
I'm focused on Apple because I do not believe there is any chance this could happen without them.

SonicForces, on their own, is not going to be in any position to separate a child from $16,000. (nor is virtually anyone else.) No parent is going to give their credit card to SonicForces.

Apple, on the other hand, created the unique ecosystem where they know their devices are in children's hands, where they sell games aimed at children, where they exercise a strong editorial voice as far as what is allowed on any app in their store or not, and choose to allow apps that a small child could easily be taken of advantage by. They also know many of their non-technical adult customers, who of course are obligated by life to have an account with the phone company including a credit card on file, will not fully distinguish between Apple, the telco, and the random 3rd parties in the app store.

If I were the regulator or legislator looking at this, my focus would be on Apple because if I fix them I've gone a long way towards fixing the overall problem.

Don't get me wrong, if I had to I'd go after the scummy software company too, but it'd be like pulling a weed: you know there'd just be another one around the corner if you don't fix the core issue.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,141   +2,124
I'm focused on Apple because I do not believe there is any chance this could happen without them.

SonicForces, on their own, is not going to be in any position to separate a child from $16,000. (nor is virtually anyone else.) No parent is going to give their credit card to SonicForces.

Apple, on the other hand, created the unique ecosystem where they know their devices are in children's hands, where they sell games aimed at children, where they exercise a strong editorial voice as far as what is allowed on any app in their store or not, and choose to allow apps that a small child could easily be taken of advantage by. They also know many of their non-technical adult customers, who of course are obligated by life to have an account with the phone company including a credit card on file, will not fully distinguish between Apple, the telco, and the random 3rd parties in the app store.

If I were the regulator or legislator looking at this, my focus would be on Apple because if I fix them I've gone a long way towards fixing the overall problem.

Don't get me wrong, if I had to I'd go after the scummy software company too, but it'd be like pulling a weed: you know there'd just be another one around the corner if you don't fix the core issue.
Well I'm glad you're not the regulator / legislator. Apple literally couldn't make it easier to stop stuff like this happening, the parent clearly chose to ignore absolutely everything.

What would your legislation look like? It's illigal to spend more than £100 on in-app purchases? Can we spend more than that on the initial purchase of the app? Why can I go to a website with a game and spend more than £100 within the game there?

Moral of this story is, don't ignore your emails, bank, child, do normal things like have a limit on your credit card, don't give a 6 year old access to it, at all, and certainly don't leave it months before complaining about it.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
Apple might have 30% of her money but... what about the other 70%?!?!?
That is of course the salient point. I imagine Apple sets the 60-day window as that is the time limit in their own contract with app store merchants After those 60 days, the merchants are contractually immune from having their funds clawed back.
 

brucek

Posts: 812   +1,130
TechSpot Elite
What would your legislation look like? It's illigal to spend more than £100 on in-app purchases? Can we spend more than that on the initial purchase of the app? Why can I go to a website with a game and spend more than £100 within the game there?
As a consenting adult not disputing the charges, you can do whatever you want. That's what most transactions in a legitimate market look like.

When you have the purchase initiated by a small child, via an application marketed to a small child, that perhaps is intended to take advantage of children not even understanding is a purchase, and that does end up disputed -- well now you're in different territory.

I think a more typical resolution of a case like this would be the debt ending up as ultimately unenforceable, and the digital account(s) end up canceled, which ought to be an acceptable outcome to a legitimate business.
 

fps4ever

Posts: 686   +907
Returning a physical item is easier simply because there is only ONE of it.... If I buy a computer and I change my mind and return it, the computer is no longer mine - it goes back to where I bought it from...

A digital item is very different... As soon as I buy it, I have it... but if I "return" it - I might STILL have it....

Apple might have 30% of her money but... what about the other 70%?!?!? Why are we focusing on Apple? To repeat my post from earlier - if you bought a copy of MS Windows from Bestbuy and wanted to return it, you wouldn't be contacting Microsoft!

Oh for cripes sake not this again. Apple has the power to recover that other 70% from the gaming company since they control the entire ecosystem.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,100   +3,262
Oh for cripes sake not this again. Apple has the power to recover that other 70% from the gaming company since they control the entire ecosystem.
They have the power to... but they didn't sell the stuff.... since you clearly can't be bothered to read up in the comments...
Ways to get recourse:
1) contact the game company
2) contact Apple
3) contact your credit card company
 

fps4ever

Posts: 686   +907
They have the power to... but they didn't sell the stuff.... since you clearly can't be bothered to read up in the comments...
Ways to get recourse:
1) contact the game company
2) contact Apple
3) contact your credit card company

I read them all but you are still stuck on that best buy analogy and refuse to believe anything else. We don't know whether she did or did not try to contact the game company as well. Apple controls everything and could intervene easily on behalf of the customer. They could even make her sign a non disclosure agreement to settle it so nobody is the wiser in case you are worried about setting a precedent.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,100   +3,262
I read them all but you are still stuck on that best buy analogy and refuse to believe anything else. We don't know whether she did or did not try to contact the game company as well. Apple controls everything and could intervene easily on behalf of the customer. They could even make her sign a non disclosure agreement to settle it so nobody is the wiser in case you are worried about setting a precedent.
We DO know that she DIDN’T contact the game company.... did you read the article?
And that SHOULD have been her first step...

Honestly, I don’t buy her story - $16,000 in charges over a long period of time... how do you not notice that if you can’t afford to pay your mortgage?

If you’re really rich, I can see you missing that.... but not at her income level...

Yes, Apple could refund her money... but why should they?

Sonic Forces, made by Sega, charged her the money - and for all Apple knows, they delivered her value for money... Sega is a billion dollar company - I think they can be called on here to take some responsibility.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
Oh for cripes sake not this again. Apple has the power to recover that other 70% from the gaming company since they control the entire ecosystem.
The above post demonstrates a near-criminal lack of understanding of basic contract law. Apple's "control" does not exist to arbitrarily reaching backwards in time and confiscating revenues they have long since paid to another party.
 

bandit8623

Posts: 301   +165
We DO know that she DIDN’T contact the game company.... did you read the article?
And that SHOULD have been her first step...

Honestly, I don’t buy her story - $16,000 in charges over a long period of time... how do you not notice that if you can’t afford to pay your mortgage?

If you’re really rich, I can see you missing that.... but not at her income level...

Yes, Apple could refund her money... but why should they?

Sonic Forces, made by Sega, charged her the money - and for all Apple knows, they delivered her value for money... Sega is a billion dollar company - I think they can be called on here to take some responsibility.
But again it comes back to parents taking responsibility. Put a password on transactions. Don't have a card on file. Terrible parent. The reason everything is so dumbed down if because of people like this.
 

brucek

Posts: 812   +1,130
TechSpot Elite
But again it comes back to parents taking responsibility. Put a password on transactions. Don't have a card on file. Terrible parent. The reason everything is so dumbed down if because of people like this.
Good advice but it's still not acceptable to create traps for parents to fall into. A restaurant can not serve an attractive colorful cocktail to a child and blame the parent for not stopping them. An airline can not blame its passengers for not verifying the cockpit controls were set correctly. And in my opinion, the company who created a complicated software & service ecosystem should not be able to blame its users for not knowing which of hundreds of on-device controls to adjust to prevent this from happening. It is not that reasonable that any configuration of those controls would allow a six year old to spend $16,000 on a children's game, and certainly not anything resembling the default device condition.

It may be that readers of an enthusiast site like techspot have trouble visualizing how poor of an understanding many non-technical adults have of knowing what company is providing what service via what account on their electronic devices. I see this all the time in my parents and their friends, all of whom are smart, educated, successful people, some in fairly powerful positions, and almost all of whom could not correctly describe the first detail of what is going behind the screens they see on their phones.

The particularly egregious trap that gets set up here is that an ordinary person can think they are signing up for a phone, with a set a monthly fee to the phone company; then get "helped" into setting up their credit card on the app store (which they may very well think is part of their basic phone bill); then told they need to provide their password for their kid to install some free app for school; all while never dreaming they have just enabled the raw ingredients for a multi thousand dollar charge by their kid.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,141   +2,124
When you have the purchase initiated by a small child, via an application marketed to a small child, that perhaps is intended to take advantage of children not even understanding is a purchase, and that does end up disputed -- well now you're in different territory.
Ok, so how would you legislate that? Make it illegal for anyone under 16 to purchase using someone else's account of any kind? What happens if that gets broken? Parent takes 6 year old son to court for using her bank account?

What would you change in the law to stop 6 year olds from purchasing vast amounts of in-app purchases? At what age would the cut off be? Once you're over the age of 16 you can now spend unlimitedly in-app purchases?

I'm aware you have no answer by the way...

Good advice but it's still not acceptable to create traps for parents to fall into.
I stopped reading, there is no trap, no 6 year old on earth needs access to their parents credit card, Period. Every single adult on this planet knows to keep your password secure and not give it to a 6 year old. Most normal adults know to have a limit on their credit card and finally, most adults can add two and two together: "Lots of payments coming out, lots of emails from Apple with receipts of said payments claiming in-app purchases in a game, Son has been playing on his iPad alot..."

There isn't a trap for parents, never was, this was just terrible parenting with a large dollop of idiocy.
 

brucek

Posts: 812   +1,130
TechSpot Elite
Ok, so how would you legislate that?
I don't need anything new. Minors already lack the capacity to enter into a binding contract. If this really got a vigorously contested hearing, there'd be a brief tussle about well we had a contract with the adult, but I don't think that would survive discovery once the reams of evidence that both the game company and Apple knew darn well the money was really coming via providing children with buttons they lacked capacity to understand, after having actively marketed the apps containing those buttons to children. The debt would end up unenforceable, or just abandoned long before it got to judgment, because neither company really wants more public light shed on this issue.

re: your other point about no child needing the credit card, you're right. The child never has to have it. The confused parent is led into providing it once during initial device provisioning, maybe led into providing a password to install an free app once, and now the stage is set.
 

bandit8623

Posts: 301   +165
I don't need anything new. Minors already lack the capacity to enter into a binding contract. If this really got a vigorously contested hearing, there'd be a brief tussle about well we had a contract with the adult, but I don't think that would survive discovery once the reams of evidence that both the game company and Apple knew darn well the money was really coming via providing children with buttons they lacked capacity to understand, after having actively marketed the apps containing those buttons to children. The debt would end up unenforceable, or just abandoned long before it got to judgment, because neither company really wants more public light shed on this issue.

re: your other point about no child needing the credit card, you're right. The child never has to have it. The confused parent is led into providing it once during initial device provisioning, maybe led into providing a password to install an free app once, and now the stage is set.
Wrong you don't need to provide a card. Even if you do there is pin protection. Let's just agree we have morons out there that will blame everyone and their mom before they admit it's their own darn fault.
 

willhen50

Posts: 32   +5
I remember in the (g)olden days of computers, my TRS-80 computer was hooked up to a MODEM through the phone line, I liked to access Bulletin Boards, and my favorite one was called Pirates Cove or Den, can't remember, but there was "text adventures," texting to people," trivia games, printing ASCII pictures, etc...; In one month I was probably on that site 8 or 9 times and for hours at a time, but it was only one time I left the connection open all night (8 hours,) because I fell asleep. However, the problem being, I lived in Florida and the BBS was in New York City, and not knowing that this was considered Long Distance with charges being applied at a per minute rate, My bill was over $8,000, and the phone company cut NO SLACK. As they say, experience is the best teacher.
 

fps4ever

Posts: 686   +907
The above post demonstrates a near-criminal lack of understanding of basic contract law. Apple's "control" does not exist to arbitrarily reaching backwards in time and confiscating revenues they have long since paid to another party.

I understand Apple has enough power and influence with these game companies that by throwing the contract back at them it's almost useless. Have you learned nothing by their history? Being that naive is almost criminal as well...yikes.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
I understand Apple has enough power and influence with these game companies that by throwing the contract back at them it's almost useless.
I think you've seen a few too many Hollywood films. No, Tim Cook isn't perpetually surrounded by a dozen Uzi-wielding henchmen, willing to off anyone who disrespects him at the raise of a corporate eyebrow.

Should Apple attempt to claw back funds in a noncontractual manner, they would instantly become liable for compensatory damages. And should they retaliate in any manner against a firm which filed suit, they'd open themselves to punitive damages as well. If common sense and a couple centuries of case-law precedent doesn't convince you, I suggest you search for at least one counter-example to cite in rebuttal. I await your response.
 

fps4ever

Posts: 686   +907
I think you've seen a few too many Hollywood films. No, Tim Cook isn't perpetually surrounded by a dozen Uzi-wielding henchmen, willing to off anyone who disrespects him at the raise of a corporate eyebrow.

Should Apple attempt to claw back funds in a noncontractual manner, they would instantly become liable for compensatory damages. And should they retaliate in any manner against a firm which filed suit, they'd open themselves to punitive damages as well. If common sense and a couple centuries of case-law precedent doesn't convince you, I suggest you search for at least one counter-example to cite in rebuttal. I await your response.

I'm just a layman and understand how Apple has bullied many a company. If you are suggesting that this gaming company is going to fight over this one act and subject themselves to being kicked off the app store or suspended if Apple wanted for "reasons" you are more naive than I thought. You want research Google is your friend. Law suits are nothing new to them.