First, the non-crappy part of this incident:
Apple did the right and reasonable thing and reimbursed me for a $99 scam that the iPad game Frisbee® Forever ran on my 7-year-old son.
Now, the crappy part of this scam.
A Danish company called Kiloo markets an iPad game titled Frisbee® Forever. It’s distributed for “free,” but they entrap you with in-app purchases of “star coins.” The screen where you buy these coins is very misleading, with two of the options labeled “100% FREE” and “150% FREE.”
My 7-year-old son was playing the game and he unwittingly made a purchase for $99.99! He does not know the password to my Apple account and I did not authorize this purchase. I suspect the purchase was approved because my password had been cached by my iPad and thus the purchase went right through.
I didn’t know anything about it until I glanced at an emailed invoice from Apple and I had the sticker shock of seeing this $99.99 charge! What the hell? The highest price I’d seen on an iPad game was mebbe $10. This $100 (over $100, if you count tax) charge seems waaaaaaay out of line.
The happy ending, as I noted at the start of this post, is that I contacted Apple through their email support system and they reasonably replied:
I understand that the purchase of “275.000 Star Coins” was unintentional. In five to seven business days, a credit of $108.99, plus any applicable taxes, should be posted to the credit card that appears on the receipt for that purchase. Please note that this is a one-time exception, as the iTunes Store Terms and Conditions state that all sales are final.
You can be sure I have now locked down in-app purchases so that we will not have a repeat of this situation. But I do think Apple shares some of the blame with Kiloo. In-app purchases are a relatively recent addition to iTunes and I think their implementation is crappy.
Here are two suggestion I sent to Apple that would make it less crappy:
- I would recommend that in-app purchase NOT be enabled by default. If the user had to specifically opt-in to in-app purchases, many of these mistakes could be avoided.
- If, as I’ve read, it’s true that the iPad caches one’s password for 15 minutes or more, I recommend the user be allowed to configure any password caching–perhaps turning it off entirely.
A couple of friends asked about how to request that Apple review an in-app purchase. I put together a little screencast to show how, but Blogger deleted it.