Apple refunds Connecticut mom thousands after son spends $16k on Sonic Forces | US | News
A woman has been charged thousands of dollars by Apple after her six-year-old made in-app purchases on his favorite video game. While playing Sonic Forces, a game from SEGA, on her iPad, Jessica Johnson’s son made several purchases, reaching as high as $600 and leaving his mother with a bill of more than $16,000.
Ms. Johnson, a resident of Wilton, Conn., said her son George spent a total of $16,293.10 in Apple App Store charges over the summer to buy rings on Sonic Forces.
He was able to do this without her credit card as Ms Johnson’s PayPal account was linked to the iPad.
She shared her experience in a Facebook group for mothers in the hope that she could prevent this incident from happening to others, but was also told by her bank that she would have to contact Apple to secure a refund.
On July 9, Ms. Johnson noticed the same charge of $106.34 appeared 12 times in a row on her bank statement.
In a transaction report of Ms. Johnson with ABC’s Good Morning America, there were also fewer costs of $53.16 and several more in the range of $200 to $600.
After reaching out to both SEGA and Apple, the real estate agent was called by the phone company on Tuesday last week, where they agreed to refund her a portion of her money.
Speaking to the broadcaster, she said: “As a mother of young children I thought it was important for other parents to be aware of it.
“It’s unfortunate because we’re all in a pandemic, we’re all working from home. We’re working really hard to entertain our kids while they get work done.
“Wash [sometimes] tend to say: ‘Here, take the iPad.’ I think it clearly backfired in my case.”
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Apple told GMA that it provided a refund for all the charges the company could identify, and Ms. Johnson added, “They refunded me 10,553.86.”
It comes after Epic Games, developers of the blockbuster video game Fortnite, agreed to pay nearly $520 million over allegations that it violated children’s privacy laws and tricked customers into shelling out millions of dollars through deceptive microtransactions.
The Federal Trade Commission said in a statement Monday that Epic used confusing and inconsistent button configurations to trick players into making unwanted payments.
For example, users could be charged for trying to wake the game from sleep mode, the agency said.
The deceptive gaming practices settlement orders Epic refund consumers $245 million, the largest refund amount in a gaming case in the FTC’s history.
The FTC said refunds will be made available to the following people:
- Parents whose children made an unauthorized credit card purchase in the Epic Games Store between January 2017 and November 2018
- Fortnite players who were charged in-game currency (V-Bucks) for unwanted in-game items (such as cosmetics, llamas or battle passes) between January 2017 and September 2022
- Fortnite players whose accounts were closed between January 2017 and September 2022 after disputing unauthorized charges with their credit card companies.
In a separate finding, the FTC said Epic collected the personal information of children under 13 without notifying their parents or obtaining parental consent.
Additionally, the company illegally enabled real-time voice and text communications for children and teens by default.
Epic’s settlement on this charge is $275 million, and requires the company to adopt robust default privacy settings for children and teens, which guarantee that voice and text communications are turned off by default.
“No developer creates a game with the intention of ending up here”, the company said in the statement.
“The video game industry is a place of fast-moving innovation, where player expectations are high and new ideas are paramount.
“Statutes written decades ago do not specify how gaming ecosystems should function.
“The laws have not changed, but their application has evolved and long-standing industry practices are no longer enough.”
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