back to article Boy, 12, gets €100k bill from Google after confusing Adwords with Adsense

A child in Spain has received a bill of €100,000 from Google after confusing its AdWords and AdSense services. José Javier, 12, had signed up for Google's AdWords programme in order to make money from advertisements placed alongside YouTube videos of his band, the Torrevieja llamada Los Salerosos – en inglés, the Torrevieja …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oops ...

    Saw this reported on the Beeb, apparently Google has already waived the bill. However it shows that Google's product naming may need to be revisited since it seems pretty easy to get all of these things mixed up.

    1. Yag
      Devil

      Re: Oops ...

      Yeah..."Won't fix - working as intended"

    2. theblackhand

      Re: Oops ...

      So they'll need to remove the "so easy a child can use it" statement?

    3. 142

      Re: it seems pretty easy to get all of these things mixed up

      Yeah. It's an absolute pain. I'm sure for people who are using Google's ad backend regularly, it's becomes clear, but for someone who just has a couple of monetised vids, and places an ad or two it's an absolute mess. And I'm used to dealing with complex systems.

      It's like they've made no effort to distinguish sections relating to ads you host and ads you're paying for. *Never the twain should meet!*

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oops ...

      Not to worry I am sure Google has a quick fix. They will just lower the age restriction from 13 years to 10 years old. All your preteens are belong to us.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not terribly clear...

    So Google hasn't received payment, but the family account went into debt? Or does that mean that they refunded the payment afterwards, when they realized they tried to enforce a contract with a minor, that can't be valid no matter how you look into it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not terribly clear...

      "By early September the family was being billed by Google, receiving charges which reportedly rose quickly from an initial €15 to €19,700.

      Seems pretty clear, we're talking about multiple billings, so Google hasn't received payment for the latest 100k one, but it did receive money for earlier ones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not terribly clear...

        Right, 78000, not 100000, but that seems to be what they meant by "not only hasn't received payment from the family, but will proceed to cancel the outstanding balance on its Adwords service."

        Well, not saying anything yet about refunding the money already paid, hopefully that's in the works already.

      2. BillG Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Not terribly clear...

        "By early September the family was being billed by Google, receiving charges which reportedly rose quickly from an initial €15 to €19,700.

        Didn't a parent notice the initial billings and look into it? I'd think by the time the billings were a few hundred euros they'd inquire why this money was being spent.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Not terribly clear...

          > Didn't a parent notice the initial billings

          One might also ask whether a 12-year old is allowed to take out a contract for such a service and whether he was asked to prove his age before doing so..

    2. Vincent Ballard
      FAIL

      Re: Not terribly clear...

      It's so unclear that I think the person who wrote this article ran the original El País article through Google Translate rather than ask someone who speaks Spanish to give him the gist. I saw the original article a couple of days ago and was wondering whether anyone outside Spain would pick it up; I can spot a few errors in this one.

      (1) The band's name is just Los Salerosos, and it doesn't mean The Saltshakers. I would translate it something like The Fun Guys.

      (2) It's not that they planned to get rich and buy a mansion: they planned to buy musical instruments, and if they got rich to buy a mansion.

      (3) The bank account wasn't a family account. It was José Javier's own savings account, which was intended to pay for, among other things, driving lessons in the future.

      (4) It's not that the account went 2000€ into debt, but that the account only had 2000€ in it to start with. The bank notified the parents after receiving (and this isn't entirely clear to me in the original Spanish) either bills totalling 19700€ or a bill for 19700€. (Fairly literal translation: "At the start of September the charges from Google began to arrive, and increased exponentially from some 15 euros, at the start, until reaching 19,700.")

      (5) The boy's father isn't quoted at any point. It was his mother who is quoted as saying, among other things, that he didn't understand the consequences.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Re: Not terribly clear...

        Thanks - I've fixed up the details. Don't forget to email corrections@theregister.co.uk if you spot anything wrong so we can correct stuff straight away rather than read every single comment.

        C.

        1. Martin Summers Silver badge

          Re: Not terribly clear...

          Not saying it isn't correct what has been translated above, but how do you know what he is saying *is* correct if you relied on translation tools to write the articles in the first place. What he's put isn't so much as a correction as a complete article pretty much ready made for you! Plus I doubt he'd ever imagine you'd use an unverified source since he could in theory be telling you anything.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not terribly clear...

        " I would translate it something like The Fun Guys."

        That explains why their popularity is mushrooming.

  3. David_H
    Joke

    "Our dodgy translation tech quotes"

    Don't rely on it! Is that what kid did?

  4. Groaning Ninny

    Twelve =/= teen

    Umm... a twelve year old isn't a teenager. That's all.

    1. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: Twelve =/= teen

      You beat me to it. There was a time when it was only the El Reg sub-headline writers who couldn't be relied on for the correct use of English. Now apparently some of them have been promoted...

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Twelve =/= teen

        Correct. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a teenager is a person aged between 13 and 19 years. Which does puzzle me. Why 13? You'd think it'd be any age that is expressed as a two-digit number starting with "1" because it's derived from "ten" in some way or other.

        "Etymology - the discipline that conclusively proves that your intuitive explanation is thorougly wrong." -- Harry Rowohlt

        1. herman Silver badge

          Re: Twelve =/= teen

          Hmm, 12 is still a teenybopper.

        2. Handel was a crank

          Re: Twelve =/= teen

          ThirTEEN

          FourTEEN

          FifTEEN

          SixTEEN

          SevenTEEN

          EighTEEN

          NineTEEN

          1. PNGuinn
            Coat

            Re: Twelve =/= teen @Handel

            BINGO!

            Well - someone - had to say it.

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

        4. Gezza

          Re: Twelve =/= teen

          you're joking, right? Teen, as in thirTEEN, fourTEEN, fifTEEN, etc. Please tell me you were joking.

          1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

            Re: Twelve =/= teen

            > Teen, as in thirTEEN, ...

            Believe it or not, this can be non-obvious to non-native speakers. I know this for sure for Germans.

            Yes, one feels silly once one realizes...

            1. Semtex451 Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: Twelve =/= teen

              @GKraut - Re: "realizes..." - Please upgrade to the UK Dictionary.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Twelve =/= teen

                @Semtex451 I upgraded mine to this one https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/realize

              2. IsJustabloke Silver badge
                Stop

                Re: Twelve =/= teen

                "@GKraut - Re: "realizes..." - Please upgrade to the UK Dictionary."

                If you are going to snark at least be accurate. either use is perfectly acceptable in written English. (although one shouldn't mix within the same written piece) The -ize ending commonly associated as being of American English is in fact of British origin and was the way we used to spell all -ize type words. At some point this began to be replaced with the -ise type ending because as we all know language evolves; so in actual fact the Americans are using a purer form of written English than we ourselves do.

                No charge, you're welcome.

              3. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: Twelve =/= teen

                > Please upgrade to the UK Dictionary.

                It is hard for me to tell UK from US English (honestly!). My spell-checker is set to US because that's what I need everywhere except here. So, beer with me!

              4. Robert Baker
                FAIL

                @Semtex451, Re: Twelve =/= teen

                "@GKraut - Re: "realizes..." - Please upgrade to the UK Dictionary."

                Which UK dictionary? The OED, which is widely regarded to be the British English dictionary, favours the "-ize" endings.

            2. JLV Silver badge

              Re: Twelve =/= teen

              Yeah, I kinda only realized it when my daughter neared her own transformation into Ms. Dracula. I had heard "teen" so much that the etymology for it went right past my head. Teen is also a quite colloquial term, hardly the stuff that your lit and grammar classes spend time on.

              Jeez, from the downvotes you'd think the poor guy had commented positively on Windows Teen.

              1. PNGuinn
                Thumb Up

                Windows Teen

                Now **that** would have been an appropriate moniker for slurp's buffed up POS!

                I'd trademark it pdq if I were you JLV!

            3. DropBear Silver badge

              Re: Twelve =/= teen

              Nope, not in my language (either of the two I'm using around here): "teen"-like suffixes / prefixes start from 11, and we definitely consider any child between 10 and 20 a "teenager" (imported the word, we now have it written in our orthography).

        5. IvorTE

          Re: Twelve =/= teen

          Thats because we used to have a base 12 number system and then someone decided we should move to a base ten system. Hence there are distinct words for 1 to 12 and then we move onto teens, thirteen, fourteen, <number>teen etc.. You will see the same in german.

          It also explains why there are twelve months in a year, 24 hours in a day etc etc etc

          it doesn't explain why there are 14lbs in a stone though :(

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Twelve =/= teen

            "Thats because we used to have a base 12 number system and then someone decided we should move to a base ten system. Hence there are distinct words for 1 to 12 and then we move onto teens, thirteen, fourteen, <number>teen etc.. You will see the same in german."

            We never had a base 12 number system. The Babylonians used base 10 and also base 60. The Romans used twelfths in fractions, but Western Europeans have never in history used base 12 for actual counting, only time.English and German have words up to 12, Spanish up to 15, French up to 16.

            1. cortland

              Re: Twelve =/= teen

              http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/11/15/3364432.htm

              1. DavCrav Silver badge

                Re: Twelve =/= teen

                "http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/11/15/3364432.htm"

                Was that intended to support or refute my post? In that it said that we measure time in twelves because of the Babylonians, who used base 10 for counting but then grouped larger numbers into 60s. In my post I said that the Babylonians used base 10 and also base 60. I am not sure what you wanted to say, especially since you said nothing.

                Oh, and add to my list of other cultures don't go up to twelve, Slavonic languages such as Russian start with one-teen.

          2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Twelve =/= teen

            > It also explains why there are twelve months in a year,

            No. There used to be 13 Moon-ths in a year but various Roman emperors stole days from one of them to increase their favourites until it disappeared completely.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Twelve =/= teen

              "No. There used to be 13 Moon-ths in a year but various Roman emperors stole days from one of them to increase their favourites until it disappeared completely."

              Hang on! Are you saying the Romans are stealing a month of my life from me every fricken` year?

              So THAT'S what the Romans did for us! Bastards!

          3. Anonymous Blowhard

            Re: Twelve =/= teen

            "Thats because we used to have a base 12 number system and then someone decided we should move to a base ten system"

            Base 12 was only really used in Norfolk and the southern states of the USA.

            1. Glenturret Single Malt

              Re: Twelve =/= teen

              Based on the number of fingers and toes that the locals had on their hands/feet?

          4. the Jim bloke Silver badge

            Re: Twelve =/= teen

            Count to 12 using the finger bones of one hand - touching each with the thumb of the same hand.

            I was originally told this as something from Papua New Guinea, but a quick search has it going all the way back to Babylon.

            Personally, i find it useful to count to 14 by including the thumb joints as well - just something to work through a 2 week swing at work.

  5. Dwarf Silver badge

    Age verification

    Another good example of why its really hard to verify the age of the person at the end of the keyboard.

  6. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Why did the kid know the family bank account details?

    1. Pascal

      Are you saying that, growing up as a kid, your parents were keeping things like bank statements safely locked in the family vault because god forbid if the kids got to see those and steal the bank account #?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This brings another interesting question, though: bank account details should not be enough to take money from it. There should also be a signed form sent to the bank allowing it. Though it's not rare that nowadays, banks let unauthorized withdrawals go through if they come from reputable sources, assuming the signed form is in the mail. They're still engaging their responsibility when they do that, though.

        1. Alex Brett

          Not true in the UK at least - Direct Debits can be set up entirely online, with no signature required...

          1. Semtex451 Silver badge

            Also since when was Google counted amonst "reputable sources"

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "Not true in the UK at least - Direct Debits can be set up entirely online, with no signature required..."

            But not from a childs savings account.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          You can do it online and if you give an account holder's name, their ID number, and their account number. Presumably if it belongs to someone else in the same household they wave it through.

        3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          On the other side of the pond, direct transfers can be set up with a vendor to a bank account. Normally, the vendor asks for enough information to minimize fraud.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >if they come from reputable sources

          Best laugh of the week, the thought of Google being considered a reputable source.

          Spanish banks do not like to let go of money. From my experience there must be a signed mandate. One of the banks I've used even needed a code and then a PIN sent via SMS to transfer money between my current and savings account at same branch.

          Any bad experience you can think of with a UK bank would be ten times worse with a Spanish one.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "Any bad experience you can think of with a UK bank would be ten times worse with a Spanish one."

            Wifes mother used to use Santander. We can imagine how much worse they are on home turf.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Are you saying that, growing up as a kid, your parents were keeping things like bank statements safely locked in the family vault because god forbid if the kids got to see those and steal the bank account #?"

        My parents kept bank statements and payslips well hidden, though I have no idea why.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Why did the kid know the family bank account details?

      Hope that's enough of a clue.

    3. Arctic fox

      RE: "Why did the kid know the family bank account details?"

      A very good point, exactly what I was about to post. How on earth does a twelve year old know his mum and dad's banking details?

      1. Goldmember

        Re: RE: "Why did the kid know the family bank account details?"

        According to the BBC article, the kid had a savings account set up in his name. This was the account used, not the "family" account.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: RE: "Why did the kid know the family bank account details?"

          Ahhh, all the good old literature / pulp that had the entire intrigue wholly revolving around the protagonist having their inherited fortune in an account in their name they could only access after their 18th birthday...

      2. casaloco

        Re: RE: "Why did the kid know the family bank account details?"

        I can't tell if you are an idiot or being ironic. (Post Fry meme here)

        I suppose he could have checked any one of the 12 bank statements he parents get each year, and are probably sat n the sideboard in a pile.

    4. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      Meh

      "Why did the kid know the family bank account details?"

      There's nothing to say he did but it does imply he knew the details of HIS savings account

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. TheVogon Silver badge

    A child cant enter a contract, therefore the bill is invalid anyway...

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      A child cannot enter a contract?

      Actually, many countries around the world and, surprisingly, in Europe have the age of criminal responsibility under 12. I would wonder whether that definition extended to the age of financial responsibility too as an under-12 could be held liable for financial misdemeanors. Spain isn't one of them but it's an interesting question if you're defrauded by an 11-year-old Belgian hacker or a 9-year-old Maltese business tycoon ...

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      That's why they wrote it off.

      What date of birth do you think he put in his Google account? Bet it was more than 12 years ago considering they don't let children under 13 open an account.

      Age of criminal responsibility in Spain is 14.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In England, child (a "minor" I think in legal terms) can enter into contract from age of 7. No surprise if you think about buying sweets from corner shop.

      That said the law presupposes that the child still isn't capable of understanding the whys and wherefores of the contract and gives benefit of doubt to the child. eg child can 'void' the contract at any time for any reason.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        In England, child (a "minor" I think in legal terms) can enter into contract from age of 7. No surprise if you think about buying sweets from corner shop.

        More likely comes from (hopefully only historical now) coal mining.

      2. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Yes, but you can't offer credit to under 18s, so you can't enforce a debt.

    4. zb

      Putting on my pedant's hat: yes a minor can enter a contract but not all are enforceable. Only contracts for necessities are binding.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_v_Inman

  9. Smiles
    Childcatcher

    Technically....

    Technically, if the kid lied and said he was the account holder and supplied valid details, isn't he stealing from his parents and wouldn't the dispute be between them rather than involving Google?

    I agree with them writing off the debt, but surely that's TECHNICALLY the situation?

    1. gloucester

      Re: Technically....

      According to the beeb, the kid used his own account that his parents had set him up for savings.

  10. Paul 25

    I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

    I don't get how someone can set up an AdWords campaign without realising they are paying for adverts.

    The kid would have had to enter the details of the adverts he wanted to show before he'd have been charged for anything. These are two totally different things. Everything about the AdWords interface screams "you are placing an advert" not "please pay me to show adverts".

    Perhaps I'm being a tad cynical but this sounds more like the 12 year old wanted to advertise his band, it cost way more than he thought it would, so he goes with the convenient excuse that he was "confused". He wouldn't be the first 12 year old to think something sounded like a good plan only for it to get out of hand.

    1. GavinC

      Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

      I was about to reply with a similar thing.

      The names are indeed very confusing, and I've occasionally ended up on the wrong one, but once inside they are vastly different.

      He would have had to create and upload an advert before he could do anything, surely this would be a massive giveaway? he would then have had to create a campaign, and set a budget amount, again another giveaway.

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge

        Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

        I Imagine that he thought that people would be paying for the use of his adverts on his videos.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

        This

        Adwords is fairly hard to do well but it's pretty clear what you are doing even if you are doing it very badly.

        Anyway, good for Google. They get a lot of well deserved flack but as a recipient of a $40K a month Google grant to spend on adwords for more than one organisation I tend to have a bit of a soft spot for this division of Google,

    2. depicus

      Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

      Never underestimate the stupidity of adults let alone a 12 year old child. I know a few grown ups that this would probably confuse.

      1. Semtex451 Silver badge

        Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

        @ depicus - Hang on, only a "few", the FSM has truly blessed you

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

        Never underestimate the stupidity of adults let alone a 12 year old child. I know a few grown ups that this would probably confuse.

        I think kid would have to be extremely amazingly stupid, not just "confused", based on how AdWords works.

        I just double-checked, and when you go to AdWords, it says "Get your ad on Google today".

        Let me repeat, "Get YOUR AD on Google today"

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

          "I think kid would have to be extremely amazingly stupid, not just "confused", based on how AdWords works.

          I just double-checked, and when you go to AdWords, it says "Get your ad on Google today".

          Let me repeat, "Get YOUR AD on Google today""

          Is that what it says in Spanish? Because, you know, he is.

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

            Suppose you're not a native speaker, want to accept / place the ads of others on your videos, and you read that as "Get your ad-on-Google today". What does it say now...?

    3. chivo243 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

      @Paul 25

      I'll bet he gave the bank account number "in order" to receive the millions he was expecting. 12 yr olds understanding marketing and sales.... not many.

    4. Pliny the Whiner

      Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

      "He wouldn't be the first 12 year old to think something sounded like a good plan only for it to get out of hand."

      Some children's books and entire Hollywood movies are based on the premise of some whacky 12-year-old (or a whole group of them) being confused about some goddamned thing, with ensuing predictable hijinks.

    5. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

      If his English wasn't that good, saying as he comes from a Spanish-speaking country, it is very possible.

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Devil

    Glad to see he got

    the Hillary Clinton treatment... no blood no foul.

  12. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    He ... provided the family's ... banking details?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      He provided his own banking details, for a deposit account.

  13. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Sorry, this stinks to high heaven

    The moment I heard about I thought "There is NO WAY on God Green Earth that Google would have allowed an account to be setup WITHOUT a credit card or credit facility available."

    Or, to put it another way, I challenge any commentard to set up an account, without a credit facility and then run up such an enormous bill.

    Google would take the money from the credit provider, leaving the card/account holder to stump up.

    But, it has distracted the less discerning of us from learning whatever horrors Theresa May has planned for the rest of us ...

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Sorry, this stinks to high heaven

      Yea coz Jeremy Corbyn has his head screwed on.

      But I agree with the title you went with.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry, this stinks to high heaven

      "Or, to put it another way, I challenge any commentard to set up an account, without a credit facility and then run up such an enormous bill."

      A worthless challenge unless you agree to pay the enormous bill if you lose.

      Google would take the money from the credit provider, leaving the card/account holder to stump up."

      Credit doesn't work the same way in all countries. Where I live it's perfectly possible to live a normal life without a credit card.

  14. David Nash Silver badge

    Mansion?

    The BBC report again differs, they claim that he wanted to buy instruments for the band with the proceeds of the clicks he thought he would get.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PR

    Very good PR stunt

    Your 15 seconds of fame are over now.

  16. xeroks

    Mix ups are easy if you don't understand the ground rules

    And are of an optimistic nature.

    A girl I worked with entered a radio competition a while back. All she had to do was guess the price of a guitar. The guy on the telephone was really helpful, and hinted that it was "more than £900". She said £1200.

    She got a call back later that day to say she'd won the guitar. And to double check that she realised it was a charity auction...

  17. Frank N. Stein

    What??

    How was a kid able to even provide his parent's bank details. My kids have never known mine? Sounds like a parenting issue.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: What??

      He provided his own banking details.

      Seriously, you guys complain about a 12 year old not being able to read things properly, but at the same time demonstrate an inability to read yourselves.

    2. The Mole

      Re: What??

      So you are saying your kids have never ever had access to your wallet within which your debit card clearly proclaims your bank details? Or you have never left a bank statement (pay slip etc) on the side between opening the letter and filing it? Presuamably your filing system is inside a locked safe that the kids can't get into? Whilst most kids won't be interested enough to go and find out the details it is extremely hard to prevent them from discovering it if they are so interested. The parenting issue of course would not be running your house like the CIA but educating your children between right and wrong, though if the child thinks they are doing something good and right (getting free money) then mistakes will happen.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish

    Google would give me $100k of free advertising.

    I might actually be able shift all this viagra and cialis the nice man in the email sold me.

    *cracks another walnut with his cock*

  19. WibbleMe

    Why I do not use AdWords, if I want to spend £50 SET AS A BUDGET IN ADWORDS and google goes and spends £60 that's not on.

    Time to re-thing your system Google and give a pre-pay option.

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