Parent Launches In-App Purchase Class-Action Suit Against Apple

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A class-action lawsuit launched by Phoenixville, Pa., resident Garen Meguerian accuses Apple of operating a “bait-and-switch business scheme” with its insidious in-app purchasing system. Oh, sure, in iOS 4.3 Apple removed a 15 minute window that had allowed in-app purchases to be made without a password, but the crafty schemers in Cupertino still had the nerve to use the same iTunes password for app downloads to be used for in-app purchases!

In other words, at least one parent refuses to take responsibility for allowing his kid to make US$200 in purchases using his iTunes password.

According to the complaint, “Because the passwords now required for purchases of Game Currency are the same passwords required for any Apple purchase, minors aware of such password may purchase Game Currency without authorization from their parents for that purchase.”

“These games are highly addictive, designed deliberately so, and tend to compel children playing them to purchase large quantities of Game Currency, amounting to as much as $100 per purchase or more,” the complaint, covered by InformationWeek, said.

Apple instituted the changes in iOS 4.3 when complaints about charges being racked up by unsupervised children were mounting, including Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass), and interest in the topic from the Federal Trade Commission. The Washington Post had also published a series of editorials that were heavily critical of Apple for allowing these purchases.

Comments

other side

Oh, sure, in iOS 4.3 Apple removed a 15 minute window that had allowed in-app purchases to be made without a password, but the crafty schemers in Cupertino still had the nerve to use the same iTunes password for app downloads to be used for in-app purchases!

Yes, parental responsibility is a major factor here.  And for $200 a parent needs to eat it as a learning expense, NOT go to court.

But please spare us the mocking juvenile fanboy comments.  There was more than a 15-minute window, and it was a poorly-conceived implementation worthy of Microsoft.  It’s tough to defend Apple for that.

Ragman

wow…typical entitlement and lack of responsibility that is eating our country up…my child has access to my iPhones and iPads and he is never unsupervised, doesn’t have my password, and even if he did…he know better…that parent needs to take responsibility.

responsible parent

If people would read the manuals that are included in the device they would have setup a “parental restriction” and a different passcode lock for the restriction. Better yet you can use an apple gift card instead of a credit card on the payment type for the store account. This lawsuit should be thrown out just based on ignorance and not reading instructions.

Rutabega

I hope you see the irony in the juxtaposition of “mocking juvenile fanboy comments” and “poorly-conceived implementation worthy of Microsoft”.

Clay

Stupid lawsuit.  Parents are responsible when sending kids to the mall with their credit cards.  Oh yea sue visa!  Not.

Jamie

Because in the United States, it’s, y’know, Apple’s job (not Jobs) to raise your kids. Every now and again I am truly embarrassed for us. Sheesh, and pathetic.

the one

what did you teach your kids ?
how about some good family values ? respect for parents ?
respect for family unit ? respect for honesty ?
and many other things of good values ? were you too busy doing other things ?
OR this is just a preview of how the child will lookout for parents best interests when they are old ?
we are the makers of our own destiny’s and destiny of the whole world.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

It is somewhat ironic that Apple’s requirement that apps in the App Store use its in-app payment scheme exclusively have attracted potential liability via a class-action lawsuit.

I don’t get the moral outrage against parents who filed the suit, though. The iOS devices made it very easy for kids to run up large bills without the parents being aware. No meatspace retailer in the world would let an 8-year old kid put $100 on a credit card without a parent present. It’s entirely possible that a parent with an iPhone would have no idea how their kids racked up big bills when in-app purchases were first enabled.

I guess I thought this was the kind of thing where the walled garden was supposed to be superior. The experience was supposed to be thought out, with contingencies planned for, so that users weren’t surprised or inconvenienced. In actuality, it’s more consistent with what critics have long said the walled garden is about—reducing friction so Apple can suck money out of customers’ wallets easier.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

This cracks me up:

If people would read the manuals that are included in the device they would have setup a ?parental restriction? and a different passcode lock for the restriction. Better yet you can use an apple gift card instead of a credit card on the payment type for the store account. This lawsuit should be thrown out just based on ignorance and not reading instructions.

I would call that a “Linux attitude”. To make a system—any system, not just software—user friendly, you have to consider what happens when the user doesn’t read instructions. Can they get themselves into trouble? Are there obvious paths to basic understanding? Can you educate on a continuing basis since most people don’t actually RTFM, especially if they think they already know or quickly master the basics.

huh?

RTFM.  to disable in-app purchases: settings -> general -> restrictions -> on and set in-app purchases to off.  if you need to purchase something just enable the option and then disable it again.

HGS

I’m embarrassed to be an American. With stupid lawsuits like the one presents by this irresponsible parent, no wonder people of other countries see as stupid. I should sue you for using our court system for your stupidity and small brain. Take responsibility for your child’s actions. Or I might sue the government for allowing a person like yourself to have a child, and then bring it up to be irresponsible like yourself.

A parent

You are all idiots without children - with your oh so superior attitudes.  Its time for you to grow up!

Another Parent

As a parent its MY responsibility to teach my children what is right and wrong.  It is MY responsibility to protect them as much as myself. 

Has my child purchased pay-per-view without my consent?  Yep.  Did they do it a second time?  Nope.

Has my child spent money via an ingame purchase without my consent?  Yep again.  Did they do it a second time?  No way.

It’s up to parents to be responsible and stop looking to companies and govt to do their job for them.  You had the kids, now take responsibility instead of parking them in front of a computer or TV.  Teach them right from wrong, and if they make a mistake accept it.  You made mistakes as a kid too.  Did your parents blame everyone else?  More then likely not.

John Elberling

this person is an incompetent parent, an incompetent consumer, and out to make a buck.

Mark S

I agree with everyone crying for Parental Responsibility.  This nozzle should absolutely take ownership for all the good and bad things his children do. 

Did anyone yet point out that Garen Meguerian is a lawyer in Pennsylvania?

Better yet, let’s all send a gentle public reminder directly to Garen Meguerian via his law firms email address at:  gm@garenmlaw.com ... or even give’em a good old ringy-dingy at his law firm phone:  (610) 590-2176

Based on web information I highly doubt that there are two people with the exact same name living within 17-minutes of each other AND both happen to be attorneys.

Enjoy your 15-minutes of fame Garen ... and enjoy your friendly reminders from your fellow countrymen of what it really means to be an American.

other side

I hope you see the irony in the juxtaposition of ?mocking juvenile fanboy comments? and ?poorly-conceived implementation worthy of Microsoft?.

No, there is no irony here.  This is the sort of thing we would expect from MS.

Apple needs to do better, esp. when it comes to security and transactions.  I’m not excusing the parent, but it was a surprisingly careless design from Apple.

Tiger

When my niece had two consecutive months of 16,000 text messages on her cell phone, you better believe there was a lesson in parental responsibility going on in that house. Considering there was all of 6.5 hours per day in which she actually COULD send messages, do the math. And the point being, it took a “whoops” moment like that to wake up the parents that they had to be responsible for first giving their child an iPhone, even at 15, and then that they’d have to monitor what she was doing with it. And this is a child who at the age of 2 understood what and how to use a both credit and debit cards.

Face it, we’re not in 1950 anymore. The world has changed. We all have to open our eyes. Parental responsibility is just that THEIR responsibility. I find it offensive to see college freshmen driving Lexus and Mercedes SUVs to class every day, but it happens. Parents have the right to choose. They just seem to forget that responsibility goes along with it until the bills come rolling in.

mhikl

No meatspace retailer in the world would let an 8-year old kid put $100 on a credit card without a parent present.

Bosco, are you a tard? And I mean this in the kindest sense.

Let me tell you a true tale. I’ll put it as a parable, a simple story used to illustrate a lesson for youth and the simple minded.

A home was on fire and the local TV crew were cluttered about in the scramble for the 6 o’clock news. Any comment was welcome.

The eight year old had been left alone with his sitter, the family TV, in the basement rumpus room. Bored, the boy decided to mess with matches and, in a learning moment, set the house on fire.

A father frantically spoke against a wall of flames. He was furious and outraged against the boy’s teachers and a system that had not taught his child about the dangers of playing with matches.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Bosco, are you a tard? And I mean this in the kindest sense.

I was reading your post to my dogs, and I looked over and said, “Bosco and Baby Girl, when you grow up, I want you to be just like mhikl! Call people tards and say you only meant it in the kindest sense, then come up with an example that has nothing to do with why you are calling them out.”

Then I put leashes on them and they both went outside and crapped on the lawn. Baby Girl got a little on her paw, just like mhikl, so I washed her off with the hose. I am such a proud Daddy today.

mhikl

Bosco, it’s a parable. Your little tale was a parable of sorts so I suspect you might have the capacity of understanding it given a chance.

You don’t seem to block contributors that don’t agree with you. Now that shows promise. And I mean that as a true compliment.

May I suggest your next pooch be a Corgi Pem. They so temper ill humours. Pit Bulls and their kith work only to encourage such natures.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

mhikl, Why am I unsurprised that you’re a “doggy racist” and know nothing about the relative role of breed in temperament? Or that you harbor the most ridiculous prejudices about what attracts responsible dog owners to what are loosely referred to as bully breeds? Perhaps you are unaware that two US Presidents have had “pit bulls”, and that in the early part of the 20th century, their typical working dog “job” was looking after small children. Perhaps after you finish weeping over the ending of this month’s Oprah’s Book Club selection, mix in this book about Mike Vick’s dogs. I’d also recommend Inside of a Dog if you’d like an academic’s primer on dog behavior and psychology.

Your parable is silly. You don’t leave young children unattended, let alone with matches. However, if you send an 8 year old alone into Target with a credit card, and she makes it to the checkout without drawing a manager’s attention, she would never be allowed to complete the purchase. Stores want to get paid. An unattended 8 year old with a credit card is a very significant non-payment slash fraud risk.

mhikl

Perhaps you are unaware that two US Presidents have had ?pit bulls?,

I was aware. I rest my case.

kmshelledy

I bought my son a new iPod for Christmas. I never gave him my password and told him to come to me so that I could look at each app that he wanted to download from the App Store. If I approved, I would enter my password so that he could download it. I assumed that I would be required to enter my password for every request. I had no idea that there was a 15 minute window and I had no idea that there was such a beast as an in-app purchase. I was burned big time and immediately took precautions after finding out that my son had spent $100 on buying points inside what was supposed to be a “free” game. Three days after he made the purchase I received the receipt from the Apple Store. There were some tense moments for me while I was waiting to see if there had been any additional in-app purchases before I had made the changes on the iPod.

Now, here is my issue ..... 3 days to receive an emailed receipt from Apple? I receive receipts immediately for every other online purchase I make. Had I received a receipt in a timely manner, I would have known immediately that something was up. Those three days of not knowing about the purchase gave him ample opportunity to rack up even more charges.

I have taken responsibility for this and have made appropriate changes, but in hindsight I really don’t believe that I was being grossly negligent here. I truly thought that I was adequately protecting my password and subsequent access to the App Store. This is a surreptitious sales scheme indeed. Apple has such great products, shame on them for willfully participating in this fiasco.

jfbiii

Apple doesn’t immediately debit card accounts, typically they wait for a period of time to see if there are multiple purchases that can be bundled together as one charge. It probably would be good of them to to send an acknowledgement of purchase that wasn’t a receipt right away. And then the receipt on conclusion of the actual transaction.

As far as surreptitious goes…I suppose that’s why there’s a lawsuit. I don’t think there was an effort to willfully undermine the purchase process. As a percentage of total sales, we’re probably looking at a very tiny percentage.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I have taken responsibility for this and have made appropriate changes, but in hindsight I really don?t believe that I was being grossly negligent here.

Of course you were. Did you even bother to read the gasbags who commented above about how parents are totally responsible? If you had, you would know that giving your kid an iPod was akin to giving him a loaded gun and matches. You’re damned lucky he didn’t set your living room on fire, shoot your (large and threatening to pants-wetters) dog, and start listening to Barbra Streisand.

Next time, we expect you to do the responsible thing and buy your son a $100 iTunes gift card. You’re welcome.

kmshelledy

If you had, you would know that giving your kid an iPod was akin to giving him a loaded gun and matches. You?re damned lucky he didn?t set your living room on fire, shoot your (large and threatening to pants-wetters) dog, and start listening to Barbra Streisand.

Seriously, Brad, this is a really pointless and immature response that adds nothing to this discussion.

And ... @ jfbiii ..... I really do believe that there are some questions about Apple’s intent .... Apple is a company that exhibits ruthless control over the content of their App Store .... yet they seemed to have no issue approving and promoting apps that have ridiculously priced in-app purchases that appeal only to kids.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Seriously, Brad, this is a really pointless and immature response that adds nothing to this discussion.

I’m sorry the humor was lost on you. Are you aware though, that if you buy your son that $100 iTunes gift card, it will help keep Apple the most profitable mobile device vendor? That’s what’s important.

Mjhirsch

The humor was not lost Brad.  It was simply unappreciated.  If you make a post mainly intending to mock or incite others, don’t get so defensive when someone calls you on it.

zewazir

?Because the passwords now required for purchases of Game Currency are the same passwords required for any Apple purchase, minors aware of such password may purchase Game Currency without authorization from their parents for that purchase.?
So, why does your kid know your purchasing password in the first place? When you gave your kid your password, did you caution him against making purchases without your expressed permission?

Or, did your kid steal your password? If so, how would a second password prevent the same from happening anyway?  In which case, how is that Apple’s fault?

States need to start making laws that fine the h311 out of idiots who waste the courts’ time - and taxpayer money - with these kinds of asininely stupid and frivolous lawsuits.

ctopher

@Bosco how is this different than texting on a cell phone? Or making long distance calls? Sure, it’s not Target, it’s a device. Your kid could rack up a huge bill buying pay-per-view movies. Just push the “yes” button.

In some ways this is a parenting issue and in other’s an an Apple issue. that is, it’s gray, not black and white. The 15 minute thing is not well documented.

Also, there is no manual for the iPad (and I assume that’s true for the iPhone too, but I don’t know.) You have to find the site and read up on everything that seems so intuitive that you don’t really need to read it.

So yes, Apple should warn you when you might be spending money, but you could get in as much trouble on your Wii and you can on your iPad and I don’t see parents suing Nintendo.

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