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Plugged In

8-year-old runs up $6,000 bill playing free games on dad’s iPad

Plugged In

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(Credit: Pocket Gems)

Lee Neale thought he was doing his 8-year-old daughter Lily a solid by letting her play some free games on his iPad, but in what’s becoming an alarmingly common tale, Lily went on a spending spree that almost landed pop in the poor house.

The 43-year-old from Somerset in the UK was horrified to learn that Lily racked up £4,000 (about $6,150) in App Store charges by buying loads of in-game extras in free-to-play hits including Campus Life, Injustice, My Horse, and the troublesome Smurfs Village.

“Lily is only eight and hasn’t grasped the concept of money,” Neale told the Mirror.

She did, however grasp the concept of her dad’s password, which she saw him enter when we downloaded the games.

Though Apple typically sends out emails to notify users of App Store purchases, Neale apparently missed those and instead found out about Lily’s spending spree in the worst way possible -- his bank froze his account.

Initially, Apple refused to lend a hand. Neale considering selling his car to pay the bills, but after some back and forth, the company ultimately decided to help him out.

“Apple called me to say they will be refunding the money I have lost and apologized for closing my case so early," he told The Sun.

That’s great news for Neale, who is hardly alone in his financial pain over errant App purchases. In 2011, an 8-year-old girl bought $1,400 worth of Smurfberries in Smufs Village. Just last year, a 5-year-old spent $2,500 in fifteen minutes while playing the iPad game Zombies vs. Ninjas.

Apple is well aware of the trouble kids -- and parents -- can get into when tinkering around with microtransactions. In February, the company settled a lawsuit over free apps that bait kids into spending real-world money on extras, doling out over $100 million worth of iTunes gift cards to an undisclosed number of users. Apple has also tried to make it more difficult for kids to make unauthorized purchases on a parent’s iOS device, but where there’s a cool downloadable item, kids will seemingly find a way to buy it.

While Neale is obviously pleased that Apple is giving him a full refund, he’s also hoping his ordeal will serve as a cautionary tale.

“These in-app purchases are terrible and people need to be aware,” he said.”

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