Feeds

Dad sues Apple for pushing cash-draining 'free' games at kids

Rugrats ran up bill with in-app purchases

The essential guide to IT transformation

An iPhone-owner whose daughter downloaded $200 (£125) worth of "Zombie Toxin" and "Gems" through in-app purchases on his iPhone has been allowed to pursue a class action suit against Apple for compensation of up to $5m (£3.1m).

Garen Meguerian of Pennsylvania launched the class-action case against Apple in October 2011 after he discovered that his nine-year-old daughter had been draining his credit card account through in-app purchases on "free" games incluing Zombie Cafe and Treasure Story. This month, Judge Edward J Davila in San Jose District Federal Court has allowed the case to go to trial, rejecting Apple's claim that the case should be dismissed.

Meguerian claimed that Apple was unfairly targeting children by allowing games geared at kids to push them to make purchases. He describes games that are free to play but require purchases of virtual goods to progress as "bait apps" and says they should not be aimed at children:

Numerous gaming apps are offered for free, although many such games are designed to induce purchases of what Apple refers to as "In-App Purchases" or "In-App Content" i.e. virtual supplies, ammunition, fruits and vegetables, cash and other fake "currency", etc within the game in order to play the game with any success.

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 court case quotes a description from an article on the game Smurfs' Village: "Players are lured in by enticing pictures of huge bucketfuls of Smurfberries, and just a couple of taps is all it takes to drain money out of an iPhone account holder's credit card".

The Smurfs' Village app, where smurfberries retail at $4.99 for 50 or $59 for 1,000 has already come under criticism by the US Federal Trade Commission and Australian regulators.

Arguing for the case to be dismissed, Apple said that parents who didn't want their children to make in-app purchases shouldn't give their children their iTunes passwords.

In early 2011, Apple changed its purchase protection policy – meaning that the iTunes password had to be entered for every purchase made. Previously entering the password just once had left the account unlocked for 15 minutes, allowing anyone to download anything, a practice which the case alleges allowed children to buy things without the permission of their parents.

The judge said that even if parents had given their children passwords, many parents were misled by Apple's presentation of these "freemium" games as free and that Apple didn't adequately inform consumers about the potential costs. Judge Davila has allowed the case to continue.

You can find the documents for the case 5:11-CV-1758 here. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins
More USB ports than your laptop? You'd better believe it...
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?