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Facepalm: Not for the first time, a parent discovered that their child managed to spend a fortune on a game’s in-app purchases. In this case, an eleven-year-old girl spent £4,642 ($5,792) on the hugely popular Roblox using her dad’s debit card.
Speaking on the BBC’s Jeremy Vine Show, Steve Cumming said that his daughter told him all her friends were enjoying the free-to-play Roblox, and she wanted to spend £4.99 ($6.23) on an in-app purchase. He said yes, and made the payment using his debit card on April 16.
Seventy-two-year-old Cumming, who describes himself as “not very tech savvy,” signed up to use online banking during the pandemic lockdown as he was unable to visit the bank didn’t want to use cash machines. When he first logged on, almost a month after that initial card payment, he discovered the horrible truth.
"I was astonished to see hundreds and hundreds of separate transactions, all between £0.99 and £9.99. I couldn't understand it. I thought I'd been scammed," he said.
Cumming then phoned the bank to cancel his debit card, but that didn’t stop another £1,000 being taken via his Google Play account. He said his daughter believed she was playing with Monopoly money, adding: "How can these companies be allowed to trap minors in these games?"
Like most people, Cumming admitted to not reading the terms and conditions, but said he was surprised that a game designed for children could allow thousands of transactions adding up to thousands of pounds to be spent across a couple of weeks.
After being contacted by the BBC, developer Roblox Corporation said it would issue a full refund. "We strive to prevent unauthorized purchases, by taking measures such as not storing billing information, and work directly with parents to provide appropriate refunds whenever possible, which is the case in this instance,” said the company.
As we’ve seen before, giving kids access to their parents’ payment methods can often end in tears. Just ask the teen who “unknowingly” spent $8,000 on one of the FIFA games, or another 11-year-old who blew almost $7,500 on microtransactions over the course of two weeks.