A 17-year-old Canadian boy racked up almost $8,000 on his dad’s credit card making in-game purchases through his Xbox Live account, and Microsoft shows no signs of being interested in giving the money back, CBC News is reporting.
Lance Perkins of Pembroke, Ontario Canada says he gave his son his credit card for emergencies and to make purchases from the convenience store his family owns. Little did he know that his son, whose name has not been made public, would be using it to rack up gigantic bills via Xbox Live. He only found out on December 23 when he got a rather shocking bill in the mail: $7,625.88, all from in-game purchases the son made for upgrades and other purchases on the FIFA series of soccer games for the Xbox platform.
“It floored me. Literally floored me, when I’d seen what I was being charged.”
For his part, the young Xbox player is as upset as his dad is at the huge bill; he insists that he had no idea he was spending so much money.
“He thought it was a one-time fee for the game. He’s just as sick as I am, [because] he never believed he was being charged for every transaction, or every time he went onto the game.”
Unfortunately, Mr. Perkins is not the first parent – nor will he be the last – to get stuck with an exorbitant bill, thanks to a child’s gaming. Earlier this month, according to this Inquisitr report, a 7-year-old in England racked up $5,000 in bills on his dad’s credit card playing Jurassic World on his dad’s iPad.
— Trends Today App (@trendstodayapp) January 1, 2016
The problem, in both the young boy’s iPad situation and the Canadian teen’s Xbox situation – and indeed, on just about any internet-enabled gaming platform – is the dreaded “in-app purchases.” Spencer Whitman of app protection firm AppCertain told The Daily Mail in 2013 how app developers are able to squeeze money out of adults — and, especially children — through “in-app purchases” (or “in-game purchases.”
“[Mobile games] often include in-app purchases hidden behind the free price tag. Either they offer a small amount of play, then charge for continued use; offer in-app purchases for more in-game content such as extra areas of play or upgrades; or they constantly interrupt game play to ask for in-app purchases.”
In both the U.S. and Canada, there are few laws in place to protect parents from huge credit card bills brought on by their children making in-app purchases.
And in Mr. Perkins’ case, he’s very likely out of luck. He says he called his credit card provider and was told that unless he’s willing to prosecute his own son for credit card fraud, there’s nothing that can be done. Microsoft, the parent company of Xbox, was also less than helpful. In a statement, the company said that parents should know better and take steps to prevent their kids from making in-game purchases.
“Purchases made using a parent’s payment account are legitimate transactions under the Microsoft Services Agreement, and we encourage parents to use the many platform and service features we make available to prevent unapproved charges.”
And while he may be on the hook for his son’s $8,000 bill, Mr. Perkins has a sure-fire way of preventing something like this from happening again: he says there will never, ever be an Xbox, or any other gaming system in his home.
[Image via Shutterstock/Stefano Tinti]