Feeds

back to article Dad sues Apple for pushing cash-draining 'free' games at kids

An iPhone-owner whose daughter downloaded $200 (£125) worth of "Zombie Toxin" and "Gems" through in-app purchases on his iPhone has been allowed to pursue a class action suit against Apple for compensation of up to $5m (£3.1m). Garen Meguerian of Pennsylvania launched the class-action case against Apple in October 2011 after he …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

When will parents learn

When will parents learn to take responsibilty for educating themselves and subsequently, their offspring?

This guy clearly had no interest in what his daughter was doing and no knowledge of whether she could make purchases on the device he let her use unsupervised.

I'm no Apple fan but I think letting him claim up to $5 million "damages" is unfair on Apple!

He's now had to pay the in-app "idiot tax" and got a bonus parenting wake-up call - call it quits.

58
48
Anonymous Coward

Re: When will parents learn

When will parents learn to take responsibilty for educating themselves and subsequently, their offspring?...

Do you have children? Have you tried to 'educate' a child and tell them not to press this button or that switch? No? Didn't think so.... now get off your bleeding high horse and stop pretending you are Mr Perfect parent.

51
57
Anonymous Coward

Re: When will parents learn

True, I see these games all the time but do I download them? No,

and why is that

Simple, it's all about being responsible.

I don't think this will go very far.

19
8
Anonymous Coward

Re: When will parents learn

Stupid comment. Actually it is quote easy to educate children by taking an interest, sitting down with them and above all taking parental responsibility.

And of course password protecting your account.

If you don't more fool you.

29
4

A swat on the ass usually did the job for me

...oh wait, I forgot, that's child abuse now, as no doubt also is suggesting that anyone undertake such a criminal act.

Mine's the one with the Broad Arrow.

16
8
Anonymous Coward

Re: When will parents learn

When will children start acting like adults?

10
4
Bronze badge
Thumb Down

>Do you have children?

Doh. I do, and I do know better than to entrust them with my credit card info.

Which is ultimately what you are doing when you give iTunes password. If you don't give it to them, problem solved. Rocket science?

I don't disagree that the freemium aspect is a scam of sorts and maybe Apple should ban those apps.

But ultimately you have to enter a password every time you make a purchase.

What do you propose the vendor do? Have you enter a password and... then what exactly? Just because he can't deal with his kids doesn't mean I want to be penalized with additional crap myself.

One thing they could do would be to NOT require the password on free apps/free addons. That way there would be no reason to give your kid any iTunes credentials whatsoever.

Anyways, I suspect Amazon one-click ebook purchases have the same risk as well. Worse, really, because my browser logs me in directly and there is no confirmation. Then again, I don't let my kids browse on my login.

32
4
Unhappy

Re: When will parents learn

In this comment thread, I see one person that actually has a child, and four that don't (and it would seem haven't ever met or been a child). I notice the same thing among my friends. It's the ones without kids that don't understand why you can't keep an eye on *everything* each of your three kids is doing at all times, in addition to perfectly pre-screening (i.e. play the game yourself for several hours) everything your kids are about to do.

The four of you that have no idea what you're talking about - when you start having kids - I want you to think back to these comments when they do something stupid, and you're not there to stop it, and remember it's entirely your fault.

And don't think back to when you were a kid and did stupid things and it wasn't your parents fault, because that's WRONG.

36
27
Flame

Re: >Do you have children?

Interesting, Was discussing this very issue with a woman I know today.

She was really pissed off by Apple, not allowing to give her a way

to let her children download free apps without risking her money.

Allowing children to download free apps with in-app purchases is evil.

Apple makes a lot of money so punitive damages should be awarded

accordingly. $5M is not high enough to really hurt them.

I think that it would be good, if Apple was to pay back every cent they made

on in-app purchases and then punitive damages on top of that.

Punitive damages should be awarded to some fund for the benefit of children.

20
18
Gold badge

Re: When will parents learn

"In this comment thread, I see one person that actually has a child, and four that don't (and it would seem haven't ever met or been a child)."

You do? I see very few clues on that subject. Perhaps you'd care to guess whether I have kids. Just to help you along, I feel oddly perturbed by a feeling of sympathy for Apple.

17
5
Silver badge

Re: When will parents learn

There's some very bizarre logic being used here. I feel sympathy for parents, we all know that realistically you can't be vigilant 24/7 and that kids will do silly things. That said, if you turn your back for 5 minutes and little johnny does do something silly it's still your responsibility. Not because the rest of us expect you to have super-human parenting abilities but because they're your kids.

I still think in app purchases in games aimed at young children should be banned though. There's no need to make parents' lives more difficult than they already are.

17
3
Pirate

$5 million "damages" is unfair on Apple?

Perhaps so, but you forget this is a class action lawsuit. That means that approximately $4,990,000 of the $5 million will go to the law firm representing the plaintiffs and each member of the class will receive a $0.49 iTunes Store credit.

Furthermore, Apple may *actually wish* to settle, because a lawsuit that is granted class action status seriously abridges the rights of the class (ie. one must opt *out* instead of opting in). Therefore, if Apple settles this class action it should prevent any other suits like this from being raised in the US.

"Oh, you're upset about in app billing too? Didn't you get your 49 cents that we deposited in your iTunes account that buys our way out of any future lawsuits about this unless you went through the onerous process to opt out of the class years ago? Great, all settled then! Have a nice day!"

3
1
Silver badge
Linux

Re: When will parents learn

Consider this a fundemental design problem with iTunes. You're forced to provide payment information even if you have no intention of buying anything. Free content is muddled with adware and these micropayments. Any system where such micropayments can't be disabled across the board is just asking for this kind of trouble.

It doesn't even have to be "misbehaving children". I personally don't want to end up "buying" something I didn't intend.

You force people to be "in for a penny, if in for a pound" and you will create this kind of problem.

It's entirely unnecessary.

19
5

Re: When will parents learn

I can understand both arguments, but it all boils down to this, in my opinion:

1) The guy is an idiot for not supervising such a young child, when using ANY internet accessible device.

2) Apple are taking advantage of the legal sysem by, on one hand, encouraging developers to write such software, but on the other say it's not our problem.

Personally I don't either party has clean hands in this and both should be smacked upside the head with a 2x4

3
3
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: When will parents learn

Maybe we understand the problems with dealing with children. hence dont have them. we are not that stupid

you on the other hand seem to be 3 times as stupid as each of us. :-)

Oh and btw when your kids grow up to be assholes with no boundaries. that will be your fault

13
13
Stop

Re: When will parents learn

"Arseholes with no boundaries"*

Why did that make me suddenly think of goatse <shudder>

*Note correct spelling.

6
2

Re: When will parents learn

NH, as much as I agree with what you just said.. I'm gonna have to downvote you I think, you just can't say shit like that.... Well, like that...

0
3
Anonymous Coward

Re: When will parents learn

> Any system where such micropayments can't be disabled across the board is just asking for this kind of trouble.

What, you mean like the global "Settings | General | Restrictions | In-App Purchases" option which is protected by pincode and available on any device running iOS? /facepalm

RTFM ...

18
0
IT Angle

Re: Do you have children?

> Do you have children? Have you tried to 'educate' a child and tell them not to press this button or that switch? No? Didn't think so.... now get off your bleeding high horse and stop pretending you are Mr Perfect parent.

Just who in their right mind lets a nine-year-old unsupervised on the Internet. The same kind of people who gives them a mobile phone to `keep an eye on them'?. It isn't Apples responsibility to keep your kids safe on the Internet.

8
1

@Ken Hagan

Okay, I'll bite. If I had to guess, I'd say you're not a parent, based on the fact that you don't see the obvious clues.

One guy said he was a parent, and I believe him :).

The others simply whined that the parent in the article should have been more responsible, which I *only* hear from 20-something non-parents that think they know everything until they have a kid and realize how incredibly difficult it is to keep tabs on them all the time. It's also incredibly difficult to sit your 9-year-old daughter down and tell her "Sorry, but I haven't had the opportunity to review every inch of this game that was billed as free by Apple - a large tech company that I trust with my financial details - and make sure there's no way you could purchase anything" when she's chomping at the bit to play it. You may not believe it when you see it on TV, but it does hurt when your daughter yells "You never let me have any fun, I hate you daddy!" and runs to her room.

But now I have two new figures: based on my up/down votes, I'd day 10 people that read my comment are parents, and 12 aren't. My reasoning is that I don't know a single parent that would disagree with me and I don't know a single 20-something non-parent know-it-all that would agree.

17
13
WTF?

Kids own iPad

I know I am in the minority here - but my 9yo daughter has her own iPad linked to my iTunes account. She knows to ask to download an app - even the already purchased ones - and double checks to purchase in-app credits. She is very good on this.

**However** I know she is in the minority.

That said though - on the iPad and other iDevices, there is a parental control setting to disable in-app purchases. Settings -> Restrictions -> In-App purchases. Its pass coded. Why wasnt that enabled?

Makes me think there should be a test to have a smart device of any sort (including TVs where you can now rent movies too). If you have a device with a supported restriction - for crying out loud learn to use the restrictions!

2
0
FAIL

Re: When will parents learn

"In this comment thread, I see one person that actually has a child, and four that don't (and it would seem haven't ever met or been a child). I notice the same thing among my friends. It's the ones without kids that don't understand why you can't keep an eye on *everything* each of your three kids is doing at all times, in addition to perfectly pre-screening (i.e. play the game yourself for several hours) everything your kids are about to do."

Whether or not people have children is a distraction. It's a red herring argument, as though only folks who've had children can be excused for not taking common-sense measures to prevent this sort of thing. (Full disclosure: I do not have biological children myself. My girlfriend has an 11-year-old girl.)

1. You can not watch what your kids do 24.7, that is true. You CAN, however, keep your app store password private. That gives you two advantages: it prevents your darling from draining your wallet, AND it lets you know what games and apps your kid is playing with, because you have to authorize purchases.

Several folks have commented that free apps should be downloadable without a password. That's a terrible idea, because it removes one of the parents' tools for monitoring what apps their children are using. The fact that you need to use a password to download any app, even a free one, is a GOOD thing. If you actually take an interest in what apps your kid is downloading, that's a feature, not a bug.

2. You can turn off in-app purchases. If this guy is so upset about in-app purchases, for fsck's sake, why didn't he just turn them off?

9
1
FAIL

Re: When will parents learn

but there is a valid point children dont always understand the value of money and apple know this..

and there free apps used to piss me off when you say free it should be free.. thats the meaning of free! hell someone drops you a free bag of nuts you dont expect to pay for the bag or the service right you expect the "bag of nuts" to be free??

anyways a bit of apple bashing makes a good cider where i come from so maybe this will help apple more than anything if not

0
1

Re: When will parents learn

so it cost $200 to have the iOS device babysit his child, how long was the child babysat for, and what would the going rates for a babysitter be for the same period of time. I'm guessing he didn't find out til his next billing cycle, maybe a week or a month after allowing his child access to his credit card, but let's say 10 days, $20 a day seems pretty cheap for babysitting...

1
3
Anonymous Coward

Can you have...

...a hole with no boundaries? Wouldn't that just be 'space'?

2
0
Gold badge

Re: When will parents learn

Kids make mistakes, so it's pretty foolish to link your credit card to their iTunes account. Just like you probably wouldn't give your child a mobile phone on a contract.

Anyone responsible would use iTunes vouchers. They would get through it so fast that alarm bells would ring.

1
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: When will parents learn

The key thing is that it's irresponsible for a parent to give their children a password that allows them to spend real money with just a click. Would you give your 10-year old child your credit card AND tell them the pin? Of course you wouldn't.

On the other hand it seems like Apple only had the 'password required every time' control in place recently, and before that some purchases could be made without password, in which case I would say that Apple IS liable for some damages (though$5m is ridiculous, I would say that a refund of double the $$ spent without parental consent is around fair, would amount to a few hundred $ per person)

I find the most worrying aspect to be the whole "free games that require real cash to play them properly and specifically targeted at kids" thing. It's certainly borderline unethical although not illegal, a bit like McDonald's Happy Meals*. I'd prefer to spend 20-30 quid on a real game that does not require top-ups than a game that requires real cash to buy virtual goodies.

*Not facing this problem yet, but if a kid asked me for a Happy Meal I'd prefer to buy them a decent meal + a kinder egg

0
0
Facepalm

Re: When will parents learn

>>You're forced to provide payment information even

>>if you have no intention of buying anything.

Untrue.

My children have iTunes accounts without any payment cards associated with them. They can download as many freemium apps as they like (and they do), but they can't spend a cent. If I'm feeling generous and they've been particularly efficient at sweeping chimneys or begging at traffic lights, I'll gift them £10 onto their accounts which they've quickly learnt that they can either pee away on in-game purchases or they can conserve and buy paid-for apps that are higher quality.

8
0

Re: When will parents learn

It may be a valid point, but as a parent, surely you *should* be teaching your children the value of money? Otherwise you are leaving them open to all sorts of problems, and not just with Apple.

On to the main subect.

iOS already includes protection to stop unauthorised in app purchasing. First, it has the Apple ID and password. Second, you can set up a PIN on the device, then, using this PIN, you can restrict various things (including in app purchases). As such, had he bothered to do a little research (even a google search), he could have set his phone up so that even if he had given his daughter his Apple password, she could install whatever game she wanted and still been unable to make in-app purchases.

But that would have involved taking responsibility for his daughter, and would have less potential profit for him.

0
0
Unhappy

Re: >Do you have children?

I think damages to the amount of all in-app purchase turnover is going too far. There are many people who are happy to pay for software and know what they're doing. Apple are, of course, entitled to conduct business as they see fit.

However, I think it is unacceptable that Apple tolerates third parties from scamming their customers. The whole point of the 'walled garden' app store is to protect the users.

There is absolutely nothing defensible in taking a 30% kickback from $59 of Smerfberries. If they can argue how this is good value for money, and what the total cost to play the game should be relative to the market / quality of the game, then sure, I'll by a bucket of berries and choke myself to death on them.

0
1
Headmaster

Re:Re: >Do you have children? @ A.P.Richelieu

Its pretty easy to make an iTunes account without any payment info attached to it, and that will let you download as many free apps as you want.

Simply google "iTunes account without credit card" and there are a bazillion articles on it, top of the list apple's own on how to do it: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2534

And if for some reason you have given your child your iTunes account then you can go to parental restrictions and disable in app purchases. You have been able to for years.

I personally hate IAP, so i have even disabled them via that method on my own iOS devices. No paranoia that I'm gona get shafted.

So maybe you should do some research before you get yourself into a pious rage.

1
0
Childcatcher

Re: When will parents learn

A better question is "when will parents *re*learn" that their childrens' little misdemeanours are their responsibility.

It's true that parents can't stop their kids from doing any stupid things, but what's different now from when I were a lad is that back then my parents took responsibility. They didn't look for third parties to blame. They could have smothered me in supervision and not let me out to play (and steal, and vandalise) on my own to prevent me from doing many of the stupid things I did, but they decided it was better to allow me some freedoms - and to punish me when I screwed up.

Well, this geezer seems to think (and he may be right) that his kids are better off if allowed a little bit of freedom to play without him looking over their shoulders all the time. He has to accept the risks that come with granting that freedom to people who are fundamentally irresponsible.

3
0
FAIL

Re: >Do you have children?

Any also enable iPhone parental controls to block in app purchase, without a seperate pin code AS WELL as your iTunes password.

Ignorance is supposed to be no defence in law

0
0

Re: Kids own iPad

Same as my 10 year old. Everytime she wants to add a new app to her iPod, she has to ask me to type in my iTunes password. This also allows me to see if the app is suitable for her age, and in one case stopped her from getting scammed on an in-app purchase.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

not correct

You are not forced to give Apple payment details for iTunes (admittedly they hide this fact well). I have never, and will never give them my payment details - as such I am happy to give my daughter the itunes password, knowing that she can download free pass only - and cannot make in-app purchases.

I do believe that these apps are deliberately targetted to get kids to spend money though - which should be banned. It's like having adverts for a premium rate phone number/sms text during a (free to air) tv programme aimed at 9 year olds.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: >Do you have children?

"She was really pissed off by Apple, not allowing to give her a way -to let her children download free apps without risking her money." - Don't associate any credit / debit / payment info with your iTunes account

"Allowing children to download free apps with in-app purchases is evil." Sorry, not even remotley evil. Neglecting your child to such an extent that you consier giving them full unfettered access to a MARKETPLACE with YOUR credit card is more evil IMHO!

Parents should do just that, parent. I don't have any credit card info associated with my apple account, it makes spur of the moment pourchases a little more akward (but it gives me pause for thought, do I really want this app?)

0
0
Silver badge

Re: >Do you have children?

Whilst I generally agree, the big problem, when it first appeared, was that there was a 15 minute window between entering your password, before the system locked again and subsequent purchases required a password.

The thieving gits with in-app purchases made use of this window by trying to get people (kids) to click on in-app purchases before the lock was in.

Apple listened to complaints and changed it, so that in-app purchases now also require the password.

But what is telling is their attitude to the class action lawsuit - they said that, because they had addressed the problem, they shouldn't be held accountable for the damage it cause. :-S

That said, I do think it is the parents responsibility to educate their children and to a certain extent supervise them.

It certainly worked for us.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: When will parents learn

You DO NOT have to provide Payment information, I don't have any payemnt information associated with my apple account

0
0
Silver badge
Stop

Re: @Ken Hagan

"The others simply whined that the parent in the article should have been more responsible, which I *only* hear from 20-something non-parents"

You are also hearing it from a 40-something parent!

"but it does hurt when your daughter yells "You never let me have any fun, I hate you daddy!" and runs to her room."

True, but on the other hand, they also learn responsibility for their actions, if you talk to them properly.

I was babysitting for a friend and she sent her son to his room, just before she left. She just shouted at him and dragged him to his room and told him to stay there. Shortly after she left, he was still crying and shouting. I left the girls on the sofa and went up to him.

I sat with him and asked him why he was crying. He was bored and wanted to play with his sisters. I then aked him, if he knew why he was in his room. He said no.

I explained that it was because he had done something wrong (and I explained what he had done wrong). He said again, that it was boring. I said that was part of the punishment, that his grandparents had done the same to his mother, when she was his age, and that he would do the same to his children.

He finally understood what was going on and accepted his punishment. He was quiet and as good as gold for the rest of the night.

Parenting isn't about being the favourite all the time and it isn't about screaming at them, when they do something wrong. Sometimes you have to be hard on them; sometimes you have to trust them; but you always have to talk to them as equals and explain to them why you are doing something, even if it means they don't get what they want straight away!

Good parenting isn't blaming other people for your failings as a parent or looking for scapegoats. Like everything else in life, good parenting relies on you taking responsibility for your actions and actually raising your children!

4
1
Boffin

Re: When will parents learn

Not true.. My children each have their own iTunes account which I deposit £5 a month to automatically via the allowance option that iTunes provides.

To set up the account initially you just need an iTunes card - NO CREDIT CARD NEEDED. when the money has run out they have to wait until the following month before they buy anything further - a great way for them to learn to manage money at the same time.

http://specialchildren.about.com/od/familyissues/ss/itunesallowance.htm

0
0
Devil

Re: Do you have children?

I don't have children, but even I know that I wouldn't give my (or anyone else's) 9 year old child the password to any of my stuff - especially passwords that have access to charge my debit/credit cards.

Christ, I wouldn't give my fiance my password, let alone a child. He got exactly what he asked for by doing a stupid thing.

I do agree that the 'apps' (brr, hate that term) do peddle silly virtual shit for real money and people are dumb enough to fall for it, but I have little sympathy for a dumbass who gives out access to his finances to a child...or anyone for that matter.

So get off your own high horse. Dumbass.

1
0
Silver badge
Stop

Re: @Ken Hagan

If you give in to your child every time she yells "You never let me have any fun, I hate you daddy!" then it is entirely your fault when the child grows up to be a hideously unpleasant adult with unrealistic expectations of entitlement. Just because it is harder to introduce boundaries to your child than not, does not mean that you shouldn't do it.

You also fail quite hard for telling us that you trust Apple with your financial details.

FWIW, I'm a thirty-something non-parent. Being part of that demographic obviously invalidates my viewpoint in your eyes, despite your somewhat biased argument that parents you know agree with you and are therefore right and people who aren't parents that you don't know disagree with you and are therefore wrong.

To add another datapoint to that sample of yours, my parents are parents, and didn't shy away from telling me that I couldn't have everything I wanted. I grew up realising you have to work for things if you want them and didn't fail to reach adulthood.

4
0
Silver badge
WTF?

@Bjorn

"You may not believe it when you see it on TV, but it does hurt when your daughter yells "You never let me have any fun, I hate you daddy!" and runs to her room."

So what? You're her parent, not her friend. Being a parent means doing whats in their best interests even if their 9 year old brain can't yet understand why and doesn't like it. Also part of growing up is being told you can't do stuff and not liking it.

And yes, I do have a kid.

2
1
Silver badge
Childcatcher

Re: @Ken Hagan

Gone are the days when the internet is just on the main computer. Every phone in the house has it.

It gets worse. The rule is, "no electronic screens for the kids without my direct supervision." Then the teacher goes and tells the kids to do a project and get scour the internet for pictures and information for a project on cockatoos. What could possibly go wrong with that?

I love my kids and take a keen interest in their schoolwork. However, I do not want to have to try to manage every click of the mouse and I don't want to monitor them full time in case they switch from typing text into a poster to using the progressive search in google.

I tried f2p games on the PC. Horrid things. I'd rather pay a monthly sub. I was forever wondering if the game was trying to push me to buy things instead of being framed for my fun, which took the fun from it anyway.

So now, I just say no. Its too hard to manage. No ipod, no tablet, no Mathletics, no computer, no games consoles, no tv which can tune into broadcast signals, no dvds which haven't been vetted, no dvds at unauthorised times (i.e. Sunday evening), even CDs (mostly gifts) have a habit of disappearing to the great storage cupboard in the sky if they aren't up to snuff.

It turns out that you can live without all that stuff after all.

1
0

Re: Do you have children?

How is allowing a child to play a game on your iPad the same as letting them on the internet unsupervised?

0
1
Mushroom

Re: When will parents learn

I'm guessing you are one of those parents with feral children of their own!! "Not my fault governor. You can't expect me to control my own kids. It's just not fair!!"

1
0
Silver badge

Re: When will parents learn

"You do? I see very few clues on that subject."

Clue number one: these people think it's possible to know what children are doing every second of the day. Most people consider me a very aware parent, but my kids (1.5 and 4 years old) still occasionally manage to run off with my tablet (which they have to climb to get to) to watch Netflix when they've been told that they've watched enough TV for a while. Usually this happens while my wife and I are busy with such trivial matters as cooking, cleaning, and paying bills. Fortunately the debit card tied to my device never has any money on it unless I put it there specifically to buy something, so I haven't had the problem of them buying stuff. Not for lack of them trying, mind you.

<sarcasm>

But hey, you're all right. We should just forget about everything else so that we can keep an eye of our kids every second of the day.

</sacasm>

0
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: When will parents learn

Ahh the old Jeremy Kyle Defence "YEH DONT HAVE KIDS DO YAH" Didn't take long for that to pop up.

1
0
Coat

Re: When will parents learn

The REAL problem is not that in-app purchases are enabled, but that they are enabled by default. You should not have to disable in-app[1] purchases to prevent them happening, you should have to enable them.

SwineAir and the other low cost airlines got slapped down by the aviation regulators for switching on all the extras (insurance, priority boarding etc.) by default, this case is no different, it’s little more than a bait and switch scam.

If crApple were truly concerned about the quality of their product then in-app(ropriate) purchases would be switched off by default. Does anybody know if crApple also skims 30% off the top for in-app(ropriate) purchases?

Good luck to Garen Meguerian, I really hope he wins his case

[1] short for inappropriate????????????

Icon: Danger - pickpocket at work

2
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.