The UK’s Mirror was the first to write about the story late last week.
Even though the in-game purchases had been going on since March, the dad told the paper he didn’t realize the extent of his daughter’s buying until his bank recently froze his account.
The games themselves are free, but players can purchase upgrades and add-ons if they want. The father says his daughter had no idea she was spending actual money when she made the purchases.
“She probably wouldn’t know how much a bag of crisps costs,” he told the Mirror.
His daughter had learned his password while watching him download games for her from the iTunes App Store.
“She is only eight years old. Even when I sat her down and explained that what she was doing had cost dad money, I still don’t think she really understood.”
Apple was not terribly sympathetic to his problem, says the dad, who claims he didn’t see the e-mail alerts for each purchase because they were sent to work e-mail account that he didn’t have access to at the time.
But after the man’s story went public, Apple had a change of tune.
“Apple called me to say they will be refunding the money I have lost and apologised for closing my case so early,” he tells The Sun. “It really has saved my bacon.”
Here in the U.S., Apple recently settled a class-action lawsuit brought by iPhone and iPad users whose accounts were accessed by kids making in-app purchases.
It’s worth noting that the claims in that lawsuit involved Apple’s old policy of allowing in-app purchases without a password, whereas in the above case the daughter was entering the password each time. Also, the settlement in the U.S. lawsuit generally requires that all the questionable purchases were made within a 45-day period. Parents whose children continued to make purchases beyond that point are required to provide an explanation.
Apple could probably have stuck by its guns in the UK incident and not issued any sort of refund — or only a partial refund — but a few thousand dollars is only a small price to pay for putting a company-positive spin on the story at the end of the day.