Apple proposes compensation for children's IAPs in US

Users could claim for any purchases made by children without consent

Apple has proposed a scheme to offer compensation to the parents of US children which spent money on some in-app-purchases, acknowledging that not enough was done to prevent unauthorised child spending prior to the iOS 4.3 update.

Key to that update was a rolling back of the "15 minute window" feature, which enabled unlimited purchases to be made without additional verification for fifteen minutes after an App Store password was accepted. Many children, it is alleged, either took advantage of that window to intentionally download extra content, or were unaware that they were spending more of their parents' money.

A judge will consider the suitability of the proposed scheme on March 1, 2013. If passed, Apple may have to offer compensation to up to 23 million American App Store users. Each affected user would be offered a minimum of $5 (£3.20) App Store credit under the scheme, with claims of over $30 having the option of a cash equivalent instead, legal filings reveal.

Any App Store account users in the US who feel that their children may have made purchases must email their claim to Apple within 180 days of the proposal's acceptance, should that occur. No plans have yet been made to extend the scheme outside US borders.

Regular GamesIndustry International contributor Rob Fahey wrote about the potential legal and social dangers of targeting children with in-app-purchases in April, 2012.

"In fact, without careful controls being put in place, these cases could become extremely widespread," he wrote, "because the problem of children and teenagers overspending on F2P games cuts to the very heart of the psychology which drives the F2P business model."

Several specific child-focused titles and services have come under fire for the ease with which children are able to rack up large bills via IAP, with Capcom's hugely successful Smurf Village coming under particular scrutiny. Mobile apps are not alone in facing accusations, however, Microsoft's XBLA has also been responsible for some unexpected and unwelcome credit card bills.

More stories

PlayStation and Xbox have both failed to sell next-gen | Opinion

A new wave of consoles approaches, but neither platform holder offers a compelling reason to invest at launch

By James Batchelor

Xbox updates privacy settings, promises more transparency about data collection

Platform holder will no longer collect data from voice search, will allow users to opt-in to additional diagnostics sharing

By James Batchelor

Latest comments (7)

Emily Rose Freelance Artist 7 years ago
What. Maybe the parents shouldn't be giving irresponsible children full access to their credit cards?
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jens Mogensen Game Reviewer, Geek Culture7 years ago
I agree. In no way is this Apple's fault.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Paul Jace Merchandiser 7 years ago
If this is Apple's idea than that would be very noble of them. But I also agree that this really isn't their fault if children were intentionally buying stuff when they knew they weren't allowed to.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (7)
Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend7 years ago
Just as long as they don't sneakily pass on the cost of this gesture to the developers.....
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tamir Ibrahim Programmer, Splash Damage7 years ago
Apple is not completely blameless on this. They are not fully to blame but to state that they hold no responsibility what so ever is just as incorrect.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Omaha Sternberg Editor / Co-Founder, iGame Radio7 years ago
What. Maybe the parents shouldn't be giving irresponsible children full access to their credit cards?

Spoken like a non-parent. Or maybe you just don't remember your own days as a teenager or adolescent?

As a mother of two teen girls who each have their own smartphones, I can honestly say no matter how "responsible" your kids are, there are no responsible kids when it comes to the enticement of seemingly free (read: kids don't pay) game stuff. The idea that "purchasing" this stuff actually has a cost doesn't really enter into their minds...which, if you read the research are only partially connected at this stage in life anyway. Younger kids don't even understand the concept.

I know! Let's not put the credit card in there to begin with. Uh oh, no access to app store, and no access to games. Oops.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Kieren Bloomfield Software Engineer, EA Sports7 years ago
This is nothing more than a canny PR move by Apple. The fact that all the 'refunds' under $30 (which I'm sure a lot of claims will be) are just store credit should tell you this is more of a 'promotion'.

I see your kids like games, here's some free stuff! I hope you have fun saying no to your kids now...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.