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Online spending by children

(46 Posts)
HellesBelles396 Sat 11-May-13 20:27:17

My 12yo has been buying upgrades for an online game - a few hundred pounds worth. I have cancelled my bank card to prevent any payments coning out of my account. I am now a couple of hundred pounds overdrawneven though I have moved my pitiful savings into that account and I will have about 500 pounds of charges next month because it has come off in multiple small payments.

Can the game company really be allowed to take money from my bank account on the authority of a 12yo? Do I have any option of redress? If so, how would I go about this in a way that doesn't cost me logged loads more money?

loismustdieatyahoodotcom Sat 11-May-13 22:32:09

I know a dew friends who have had this problem with their children in the I store and all have been refunded and shown how to turn on in app purchases. I would ring the relevant customer service and explain, they ball seem quite god in situations like this.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 00:01:09

What platform and what type of games?

... and what were you thinking! shock

Sorry blush honestly, you have my sympathies but havent you seen any of the publicity on this?

The online games with in app purchases are really sneaky and deceitful (but you can easily turn off in app purchases in your permissions setting on Apple products).

Did your son have access to your passwords? The good news is that If its Apple you are quite likely to get your money back.

At 12 your son should have known what he was doing.

There have been cases where little kids have spent thousands shock

Good luck, I hope it gets sorted. smile

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 08:08:35

It was on google play, I can't find a nuumber for them.

He was using my debit card without permission.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 10:02:36

That is a shame it is Google Play but there may still be something you can do. If you can afford to loose the money then that would be the easiest option as I don't think there are any guarentee switch getting it returned.

Firstly you can contact Google Play by email, do this as soon as possible. When were the purchases made? Hopefully, within the last 24 hours or so.

You can contact them here

Their refund policy is pretty poor REFUND policy but it looks like you may be able to get an extension to the 15 grace period. you may have 48 hours to claim a refund

Alternatively, you should contact the actual GAME DEVELOPER. Here are possible instructions on to how to request a refund
from the Game Developer. I have no idea if this would help but it may be worth a try.

Finally you could try contacting you bank and see if there is anything they can do. I suspect not but its also worth a try.

The only other thing I can think of is to post on MoneySavingExpert. They have more traffic for this type of thing.

It is an awful situation you are in but you are not the first!

I really hope you get it sorted.

I think you'd only get a goodwill refund if it was an in-app purchase - not if he'd used your debit card. I think you'll have to explain the situation to your bank, accept the debits, but beg them not to add charges.

Has the 12-year-old got any savings you could use? I hope he's contrite, and realises its theft.

TheFallenNinja Sun 12-May-13 10:11:36

How did he get your password?

CajaDeLaMemoria Sun 12-May-13 10:16:53

So do you mean that he found your debit card and put the number in?

If so, I believe the only way to get a refund would be to call the police, and get a crime reference number. As your son is 12, he may be arrested. This is happening more and more frequently.

You could appeal to Google play, but I believe they've tightened up their refund policy (the same as Apple) because this was happening so often, despite continuous warnings from them re not telling children passwords etc.

Could you ask the bank for an authorised overdraft to prevent further charges? Does your son have any savings you could use?

Startail Sun 12-May-13 10:17:37

Google accounts are awful, I can't work out how to password protect DDs phone so people can't buy things.

At present the card number is cancelled (unrelated fraud that MasterCard stopped instantly), but I don't want to sort it out.

DDs really good, she(15) and she knows the iTunes password and pays up no trouble. It's having the phone stolen at school that worries me.

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 10:19:25

I immediately stopped my bank card. It wss the card for my bills account or I would have noticed it more quickly. I have asked if thr charges can be spread over a number of months as they exceed my monthly income. I'll have to wait and see on that one.

I have emailed google play, they have said they will refund his purchases (£436). I have raised the matter of the £1095 of charges this spending spree will have incurred. I doubt they will compensate me for that.

I have also emailed the oft as they are investigating in-game selling to children. Apparently, his dragons would have died if he didn't buy gems.

Startail Sun 12-May-13 10:20:21

Yes, DD pass locks her whole phone, but that's really easy to copy over her shoulder. What I want to know is how do you set a password for the actual google account, so it asks every time you try and buy things like my iPhone and the kindle fire do.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 10:23:23

I agree that the best way to present your case to google or the developer is to appeal to their better nature. I would let them know just how much the money means to you. I would consider sending them a screenshot of your bank balance (with the sensitive bits of info blanked out). I would also let them know if there are other extenuating circumstances. It isn't their fault but they may still refund.

Which game is it?


HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 10:31:32

Dragon Vale. He asked if he could download it, I looked at it and it seemed like a suitable children's game. No mention that purchases would be required to play the game. So I said he could.

I didn't say he could buy anything.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 10:38:24

Sorry xPosted

That is good to hear that GooglePlay will refund the in app purchases. I don't think they will make a contribution to the bank charges either. That is an awful lot of bank charges!

Are the bank being at all helpful?

I know it sounds silly but I have some (a little tiny tiny bit) of sympathy for you son. These games are designed to be extremely addictive. You should take a look at the Candy Crush threads where grown women (presumably become completely roped in )

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 10:44:04

DragonVale 'looks' like a free kiddies game but you can makes individual purchases of a trunk of gems for £69. That is disgraceful isn't it angry

There are lots of other stories about the same thing happening with this game. sad

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 10:45:12

63 purchases mostly £1.25, £3.12 or £6.25. Some at £15.64, £31.29 and £62.58.

The first 22 payments used up the overflow I keep in my bills account. The next 41 incurred charges of £25 pounds each. Plus£10 a day unauthorised overdraft charges

These dragons have cost me £1530.85 and quite a few tears.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 11:31:50

If you don't mind me asking what bank is it?

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 11:47:15


LalyRawr Sun 12-May-13 11:52:48

You might have half a chance with Santander. I had a fuck up on my phone bill with T Mobile where they somehow decided to bill me for 6 months in one hit, which took me overdrawn.

Santander did refund the charges (and T Mobile the money!) but on,y after I got incredibly shirty with them. Though, this was only £70, so nowhere near the amount you're looking at...

CajaDeLaMemoria Sun 12-May-13 12:47:40

I don't think Google play will be able to refund the bank charges. To be honest, they've been really nice to refund all the payments!

I'd speak to Santander. I'd mention both thattthe charges are disproportionate, and that I'd expect them to notify me of such repeat and unusual spending. You may at least get them reduced?

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 13:06:36

I do not think google have been nice at all. They have absolutely failed in several key obligations. They have promoted a game containing aggressive advertising to be ajmed at children. They have not checked that he had permission to use a card in someone else's name. I imagine that they are more concerned with potential court cases and the resulting publicity.

My son has "moved out" to granny's house but did not told her why. I expect him home as soon as he has.

This is in protest against having his tablet confiscated and being grounded for the amount of time it would take me to earn the amount he spent plus the maximum possible bank charges.

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 13:23:01

Yup. The boy is home and much more amenable.

Santander have waived the charges after I phoned and asked for a payment plan to meet the costs involved. They have also added an arranged overdraft to reduce further charges.

Nothing further from google play so I will just have to wait and see whether they stick to their word.

ParkerTheThief Sun 12-May-13 13:23:37

Was the google account in your name or your son's name?

I'm not sure why you feel google should refund any more than they have.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 13:38:35

What a huge, huge relief for you. Time for a wine

Fair play to Santander for removing the charges.

(although I better not comment on them having such punitive and ridiculous overdrawn charges in the first place angry )

I hope your son will learn from this. It's a a really stupid thing for a 12 to do but I guess he knows that now smile.

HollaAtMeBaby Sun 12-May-13 13:49:44

Sell the tablet for a start - that should go some way to covering your charges.

TheFallenNinja Sun 12-May-13 14:31:46

To be clear, did he take your debit card and enter the details in himself?

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 16:49:38

Yes, TheFallenNinja.

SofiaAmes Sun 12-May-13 16:55:20

When my dc's started asking for itunes accounts (age 7 or 8) I set up bank accounts with debit cards for them. They use their own debit cards for any itunes or game accounts rather than my credit card. Obviously there is no overdraft on their accounts. This way they are limited to the balance in their account. It's a safe way for them to understand debit/credit cards and their limitations with the worst consequence being that they spend their entire life savings of $40.

OkayHazel Sun 12-May-13 16:56:14

Santander have been great with me in the past with charges like this. I had a train company charge me for tickets 3 times. Keep trying op!

Bumply Sun 12-May-13 17:07:02

And dragonvale dragons don't die without gems, you can just progress faster with them. I've got to level 38 without spending a penny. Unfortunately children aren't renowned for their patience.

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 17:16:54

Little sod. He probably was impatient.

He has returned to granny's still without finishing the washing up. Shame they will get him to do theirs instead. Does he really think we don't talk to each other!

I suspect he will come home after school tomorrow.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 17:17:01

We only use iTunes gift cards to minimise the risk of fraudulent use. Apart from Amazon and M&S I don't have my credit or debit card details stored anywhere. I also only use gift cards with our Microsoft account (Xbox) just to minimise the risk of getting the account hacked or accidental purchases.

The other reason is that I buy my iTunes gift cards at HALF PRICE with my tesco points. They only come on offer once or twice a year but when the do I use all my points £££££££.

This is an expired Tesco Deal but it is the type of one I am talking about.

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 17:17:05

Little sod. He probably was impatient.

He has returned to granny's still without finishing the washing up. Shame they will get him to do theirs instead. Does he really think we don't talk to each other!

I suspect he will come home after school tomorrow.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 17:43:51

Does you son have 'form' for this type of thing. I would be very worried about it. sad It is not a case of an accidental in app purchase.

I think I would be tempted to get rid of his tablet, depending on his general behaviour. I would definitely cut off his access to wireless for a looooong time.

Secondme Sun 12-May-13 17:59:01

This is exactly why we don't have a tablet. grin I recommend getting rid of the tablet. That is an awful lot of money and in no way accidental. Luckily dd is very way of these things. Maybe this will be a good lesson for him. (Thinking positively)

queenofthepirates Sun 12-May-13 18:20:30

I did something similar when about the same age. My parents presented me with a list of chores and scale of charges which I was expected to do until the debt was paid off.

I milked goats for months, I kid you not.

It did teach me how to respect money though and I'm all the better for it.

Startail Sun 12-May-13 18:50:06

I'm glad Google were reasonable.

There ought to be a cap on inap. spending of £45. Ie what a decent Xbox game costs. When your spending reaches that point all levels should unlock or limitless gems be available.

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 20:30:59

I have his tablet. I do not (though wish I did) have goats.

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 07:14:12

I'm really glad you got all the money refunded.

However, really the fault is your son's for stealing your debit card. Does he know you've had the money refunded? I would be making him do "paid" chores until it is paid back.

On the Apple App store, each App has a section called "top in app purchases" which will let you know if there is any expenditure in the game. I think I have disabled in app purchases on the family iPad (and put other parental controls in place) Is this an option on his tablet? Mind you, I guess he'll not be getting it back any time soon!

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 07:15:43

DS2 is currently ironing his school shirts at £1 a shirt to pay back the £10 his replacement Oyster card cost me.

DS1 is never going to pay back the cost of 2 replacement braces for ones he lost/broke last summer. He is meant to be mowing the lawn at £5 a go but has broken his arm (grrrr).

Xenia Mon 13-May-13 07:46:03

Make him read books and get rid of the tablet.

Anyway good for the Google and Santander companies for refunding it all. So he took the card without permission but how did he know the PIN?

Xenia Mon 13-May-13 07:46:57

Also this is a very old issue in other areas - teenage children running up £800 phone bills whilst their parents are away 20 years ago was not uncommon and it has often been the case that the parent is liable.

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 08:01:23

Xenia, you don't need a PIN online. Or at least 99% of the time you don't.

HellesBelles396 Mon 13-May-13 13:04:16

Tablet has been confiscated.
In-app purchases were through google play.
He did not need a pin.
I do not really care if it has happened to other people before as it is new to me.
I have not and will not tell him the money has been refunded.
He is grounded and will be working for the amount if time it would take me to earn that amount of money.

tb Mon 13-May-13 13:25:54

Not relevant to the uk, but we're on the internet through Orange in France - but might happen in the UK, too - but unless you tick a box buried in their website, you can automatically 'buy' things on the internet.

The amount you pay is then debited automatically - no password, security code etc - from the bank account used to pay the direct debit.

Dd spent about €80 on the penguin game to furnish her appartment, and then some little bastard hacked into her account and stole all her stuff.

We found the box on our account access online, and un-ticked it.

TheFallenNinja Mon 13-May-13 15:38:56

Gotta say when I first read the post I just though ha, another person trying to weasel out of a bill but taking the debit card changes everything.

At least you have been able to take care of the financial impact of the problem but, the taking and using the card is an entirely different thing.

Clearly there has to be consequences and they have to be appropriate and not completely punitive, I used to pinch money off my dad when I was a lad, I was a bit of a tear away and generally felt pretty angry and unloved. My punishment when I got caught was physically excessive to the extreme and just made me less able to climb down from my teen angst.

I'm no softly softly parent and a big believer in discipline but believe that understanding plays a big part of this.

Good luck.

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