Yes! Raising children can be an expensive affair even when all they do is play video games while sitting on the couch every day. It is hard to imagine how mobile games and online markets can bankrupt you when you have children until you leave them with your phone for five minutes and find that they bought $10,000 worth of virtual currency. Customers have been complaining for years for tougher regulations to be enacted on app stores and predatory games that allow non-stop in-app purchasing but very little has been done to change it. If you didn’t think a mobile game could bankrupt you, then look at these 10 shocking cases of kids with phones bankrupting their parents.
$100,000 In In-App Purchases
This is a total disaster that a family in Seoul is yet to recover from. Hakuna Live is a popular streaming app in South Korea where you can watch your favourite stars stream videos and even send them In-app gifts that can be converted into real money. One family in South Korea paid a huge price to this feature when their 11-Year-Old daughter used her mother’s phone to send over 130 million won worth of gifts to streaming stars within a period of nine days. The father had to contact each star and beg for a refund since the platform doesn’t enforce refunds and yet the money in question was for buying the family’s new home.
$46,000 In In-App Purchases
This was an in-app purchase disaster that happened to a family in Belgium back in 2014. The family of a woman whose name was Katoku was left devastated and at war with Apple over the purchases the teenager made in in-app gold on Game of War: Fire Age. The mother said she had given the boy his grandpa’s credit card to use and buy ebooks but was shocked with the astronomical bill three months later. Somehow, the boy’s iTunes account which was connected to the apple store was charged directly by the game to rack up that amount. It is not clear whether Apple paid the money back but the family said the boy didn’t know that he was spending real money while buying the virtual gold.
$7,500 In In-App Purchases In Two Weekends
This happened in 2017 to a family in Lancashire in the UK back in 2017. The family only allowed their 11-year-son who was under strict rules to never use buy anything when playing games on his iPad which he could only use on the weekends. On that fateful weekend, Mr Roy Dobson, the boy’s dad discovered a series of transactions totalling £6,000 (about $7500) within two weekends. The boy had spent over $700 in five minutes and another $1100 on the iPad whose iTunes was linked to the family credit card. Luckily for the family, Apple agreed to refund the money the boy had spent on over 50 $99 microtransactions.
This one happened back in 2013 but it is difficult to forget. It happened to a family in Oregon where a 14-month-old toddler accidentally opened her dad’s eBay app and successfully bid $225 on a 1962 Austin Healey Sprite. The father had the option to return the car which was in a fix-upper condition but he chose to keep it and repair it for his daughter’s graduation day. There was a Porsche worth $38,000 on sale on the site as well but the little girl placed her fingers on the safer $225 button.
$12000 In Tik Tok Coins
Apple is not a very generous platform once you spend your money in any of the apps on their store and this was one of them. It happened to a family in B.C Canada in 2020 when their daughter used her mother’s Mastercard which was linked to her phone’s apple store to buy the TIK TOK coins. The coins enable you to get more visibility by accounts of people with many followers. The mother had no luck with Apple, but TikTok came to her rescue after she went public and promised to refund the money because they don’t allow underage users to purchase anything on their platform.
$8,000 On FIFA
FIFA is considered one of the safest video games for parents because it has parental controls that block unauthorised purchases in the app. However, in 2017, Lance Perkins of Pembroke Ontario found himself requesting an $8,000 refund from Xbox after his son spent all that money buying points in FIFA. The boy had been given the family credit card to buy items for the family’s convenience store when he chose to buy the points for the game. The father claimed that the son thought the transaction was only being charged once and not each time he logged into the game and that is how he sent the family into bankruptcy.
$16,000 On Sonic Forces In-App Currency
This one raised eyebrow all over the US in 2020 when a mother went public with the humiliation she had received from Apple after her son spent all that money buying virtual currency in the game over a few months. 6-year-old George had spent up to $2500 on a single day buying the virtual currency which her mother’s bank assumed were fraudulent and told her would be reversed. Apple refused to pay because they said she should have activated parental controls that limit purchases or stop them altogether.
$2800 In Unnecessary Furniture From Walmart
You know how you put lots of items in your cart when buying things online but you never really buy them because you get better deals on something else or you just don’t have the money? Well, imagine your 22-month-old son pressing the check-out button accidentally and now you have a stream of @2800 worth of furniture, baby stuff and many things you never really needed being shipped into your home. That is what happened to Pramod and Madhu Kumar of New Jersey in January.
$2200 On War Robots
This happened in the Philippines back in December of 2021 to the family of Julmar Grace Locsin. The family had given dad’s old phone to one of their twin boys to use and play War Robots. He said the free version was too boring for him and decided to download a more fun version which saw him rack up the huge bill in in-app purchases. It is not clear whether the family got a refund from Google but the poor boy did get a long sit down with lessons of how to not lose the family’s savings on online games.
$1000 On Virtual Cat Food
This was another sad story from Hertfordshire in the UK in 2021 when Abi Smith, a mother of two went public to condemn Apple for refusing to refund transactions totalling over $1600. The transactions were made by her 7-year-old son who enjoyed playing The Battle Cats on his iPad and bypassed his mother’s password by switching to a fingerprint lock. The boy spent most of the money buying cat food for his virtual cats and the rest on Minecraft. Apple refused to refund the money claiming it was the mother’s responsibility to enforce in-app purchase controls.