Eight-year-old taps his way to £980 iTunes bill
MORE parents have had a nasty shock after their eight-year-old ran up a bill of almost £1,000 on an iPad.
Last month The Post reported that five-year-old Danny Kitchen made 19 purchases totalling more than £1,300 for extra software to help him play the game Zombie.
Now Nick and Lisa Rowland-Fry, of Felton, have also felt that sinking feeling after realising their son Theo had run up £980 for extra software to help him play a Simpsons game.
But while Danny's parents Greg and Sharon received 19 emails informing them of the purchases Mr and Mrs Rowland-Fry were clueless until they noticed their bank account was suddenly very low.
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A spokesman for Apple said such incidents should be reported as soon as possible and were then looked at on a case-by-case basis. He said it was vital people kept their pass code, designed to stop unauthorised electronic purchases on its products, safe and said software was available to prevent children from using the iTunes store even if they have the password.
Mr Rowland-Fry, a director at Chew Valley Estates, said: "It was only when my wife rang me and asked where all the money had gone that we found out what had happened.
"She got a statement and saw there were more than 100 purchases on iTunes for between £1.50 and £75, from the middle of January and the beginning of this month.
"We received no emails alerting us to what was happening."
Mr Rowland-Fry says it is too easy for children to buy additional items without being asked for any more details to confirm the purchase.
"Theo is only just eight and has no real concept of the monetary value attached," he said.
"As far as he was concerned he was just buying doughnuts.
"We know others caught out by the same thing . A friend's little girl spent £350 on a horse game. One add-on was £69.95 for a little diamond to go in the horse's mane. It's outrageous.
"iPads can be great for keeping them occupied but there has to be more control. If you buy something on Amazon you have to agree to pay for it, enter additional information to pay and then get a confirmation email so you can keep track. With the iPad it seems to be a free-for-all.
"I appreciate children are their target audience but it is not right and there needs to be specific controls in place to stop this from happening.
"I dread to think how many people this has happened to and how many it has happened to and they don't even know about it because perhaps it was £50 and they didn't realise."
Luckily Mr Rowland-Fry has been refunded, having spent almost an hour on the phone to Apple representatives in America, but the iPad, for now, remains in a drawer.
"I explained exactly what had happened and it was a nervous wait but they agreed to refund it in the circumstances," he said.
"We got Theo and his sister Evie an iPad to help with their schoolwork but Theo's is away in a drawer at the moment. We just don't have time to monitor what they are playing."
Mr and Mrs Kitchen, of Warmley, were also refunded after they contacted Apple.
An Apple spokesman referred The Post to information on the company's website which reads: "All iOS devices (iPad, iPhone and iPod touch) have built in parental controls that give parents and guardians the ability to restrict access to content, eg internet access and age-rated content such as music, games, apps, TV shows, movies etc.
"Parental controls also give parents and guardians the option to turn off functionality such as purchasing from iTunes and the ability to turn off in-app purchases. Our parents' guide to iTunes details the steps and measures parents and guardians can take to make sure younger players have access to the right content. The first thing we recommend is not to share your password."
The spokesman said the company's website had instructions on restricting child access, at the page support.apple.com/kb/ht4213 and added that people can also call 0800 048 0408 to report a problem.