Woman sues Google after her kids rack up $66 of in-app charges without her consent

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It was only in January earlier this year that Apple found themselves in hot water after the FTC held the tech giant responsible for kids making in-app purchases without their parents’ consent. According to the complaint, this was made possible thanks to Apple’s now revoked 15-minute window policy, a security feature that made it possible for a user to enter their password once every 15-minutes when making purchases.

It was a case we knew would eventually land itself on Google’s lap and sure enough, here comes another lawsuit. A New York woman is suing Google after alleging that her kids made $65.95 of unauthorized in-app purchases on her account while playing Marve’s Run Jump Smash. Once again, a password window is to blame, only Google’s is a bit more lax than what was once offered by Apple. In Google’s window, users are only required to enter their passwords once every 30 minutes when making purchases.

In the case of Marvel Run Jump Smash, the game costs reasonable $.99 cents, but all offers a variety of in-game content (ranging from $1 – $40). After paying the initial $1 to download the game (and entering her password), the woman’s kids than had a full 30 minutes to jump into the games menus and make additional purchases — no password necessary. It’s a loophole Google doesn’t notify users of at the time of purchase, although they do detail the time window on their Google Play support page.

Marvel Run Jump Smash in-app purchases

According to the paper work, she feels Google is “unfairly profiting” from the hundreds of freemium titles in the Play store that make it possible for children to make “unauthorized charges for in-app game currency without parents’ knowledge.” The case goes onto list games that allow for huge in-app purchases, upwards of $100 — for a single purchase. It’s easy to see how a kid can rack up substantial charges in less than 30 minutes time.

Seems like a pretty big problem for something so easily fixed. Simply prompting the user to enter a password for every purchase would be a bit a nuisance, but it’s a first world problem that seems necessary when in-app purchases are reaching triple digits.

Can’t say we see this going too good for Google. Expect a similar turn out as Apple’s case.

[GigaOM]

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  • Henri Weich Conradie

    Have to say no matter how many purchases you make on the Google Play Store changing your own settings to ask for it every time is worth it. Some inconvenience for some peace of mind is fine by me.

    • Tojen1981

      I don’t think it works like that on the play store. The password prompt is bypassed for a certain amount of time once the correct password is put in.

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      That’s the way you THINK it works, and is the point of this whole case. If you purchase a game, the clock starts and you have 30 minutes to make additional purchases without needing to enter your password again.

      • Henri Weich Conradie

        I stand corrected. My apologies for the mistake.

        • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

          No worries, it’s not a common knowledge (yet). ^_^

  • Quinn Barnes-Carr

    When was the last time Google made an appearance in really-small claims court?

    • Henri Weich Conradie

      Really small claims court. I like that. They can have Dave Chapelle be the judge dressed up as Rick James. It would be hysterical and s%$& would get some.

      • Henri Weich Conradie

        *would get done*

      • Cesar Ortiz

        I’m rick james bitttccch, enjoy yourself, huahuahuahua

        • Henri Weich Conradie

          F&%* yo small claims, bi&%*! F&%* yo small claims!

  • http://twitter.com/SParKlngCyaNide SparklingCyanide

    Or you know Parents could actually take responsibility and monitor what their kids actually do instead of blaming others.

    • Tojen1981

      Well, that not a very opprotunistic way to go about things. Lol

    • John Andrew Stuart

      But that would be the too hard :/ *stomps foot like a brat*

    • sdrawkcab25

      because kids who’s parents hover over them every second of their life turn out to be such well adjusted kids /sarcasm… it takes a split second to purchase one of those $100 coin packs in some games…a kid could easily purchase it even if the parent was hovering over the screen(ever watch a kid play a game? their hands seems to defy the laws of physics).

      Parental(account) controls are commonplace and are assumed to be there and work as they appear. The check box that allows you to not have to enter your password for every in app purchase would make any person THINK that leaving it unchecked would require a password for EVERY purchase. It is deceiving, intentional or not. Nowhere obvious does it say anything about the 30 minute window.

      Suing for the money back, i believe, is stupid, because i dont think it was Google’s intent to scam money out of people. This might be the only way to get Google to actually take notice to the issue though. For all we know this lawsuit is merely to bring more attention to the issue; big companies only tend to listen when lawyers start knocking on the door.

    • JointhePredacons

      Or better yet, not hand over her phone to a child. Im against giving toddlers and young children IPADs and Tablets in general. Parents should be getting their children used to playing outside and interacting, not pre-programming them to do what most current teens and 20 sumthings do 24/7. How about we start breaking that routine. Parents need to be parents again, not self absorbed losers that need their “space for themselves” Guess what ? You had children, your life is over till they move out, be a parent, or dont have kids. Thats what I say.

  • Nathan Bryant

    This is why humanity is sad. You need to tell them and let them know. Otherwise keep it off limits. It’s real easy. Your child, your responsibility.

    My child fell and cut his knee. I blame gravity for allowing him to fall.

    • sdrawkcab25

      you are using a bad analogy… if your kid fell and broke his head open because of a poorly designed helmet, who do you blame? Google put out an inferior in app purchase model…this parent believed they were protecting themselves by setting up a purchase pin, the purchase pin model was poorly designed and implemented. Google put out an expectation of protection by giving the option of the purchase pin and they do not clearly iterate the 30 minute grace period where the purchase pin becomes irrelevant.

      Imagine setting the alarm on your house and getting robbed right after you left because the alarm has a waiting period of a half hour after you set it to become effective.

      • The Credible Hulk

        How about just telling the child NO

    • The Credible Hulk

      Your kid gets fat blame McDonald’s

  • Terrormaster

    Google has one foot in the door to solving this problem though – multi-user support on tablets. Now all they need to do is allow app sharing to other profiles on the same device that aren’t tied to a Google Play account – you know, like a kids profile. Problem solved.

    • thedicemaster

      it’s working just fine like that here.
      I have a nexus 7(2013) with my Google account attached to the main profile, and for my little brothers I made a restricted profile that has no Google account or play store access.
      I can select apps I’ve installed from the play store that they can access, and they’ve had no problem playing my paid versions of collapse and minecraft.

      • Samuel Lopez

        Is there a tutorial to achive this? I woul like to do it for my daughter. thanks in advance! :)

        • thedicemaster

          it’s very simple, as long as you have an android device with multi-user support.

          under settings>users you can add a restricted profile.
          you then get a list with all apps, and you can enable the safe ones with a slider.

          you must use a secure lockscreen for your main profile(pin, password, pattern, etc.) but for restricted profiles you can also use unsecured lockscreens(slide)
          this is explained when you create a new profile for the first time.

          once you’ve created a restricted profile you can switch between profiles from the lockscreen by pressing the user-icons, and then using the chosen unlock method for that profile.
          you can access the lockscreen by opening the settings drawer(right half of the notification bar) and pressing your user icon, or by turning the screen off and on.

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    too bad so sad

  • Jcastag

    I will bet anything that this woman doesn’t pay rent, cell phone bill or for food. This is typical freeloader BS. How about this? Your children purchased items that they used and got enjoyment from. Step up to the plate and pay for it.

    • TheRealBBOX

      This is quite possible the stupidest comment I’ve read on the internet today, and that says quite a bit. Yes, because she thinks Google’s in-app purchases aren’t more restrictive, that means she doesn’t pay rent, cell phone bill or for food and is just a “typical freeloader,” whatever that means. Next time you should think before letting your fingers fumble so carelessly across your keyboard.

      • Jcastag

        If you could read into what I was saying my point is that she’s probably someone that’s just trying to freeload of the system. She should be taking responsibility for the fact that her kids purchase something, got us out of something, and enjoyed something. Now she should pay for it get a life you fucking loser

  • Michael Quinlan

    Instead of suing Google, she should be thanking them for such a cheap parenting lesson. She gives her kids access to HER device, tied to HER account, doesn’t monitor what THEY are doing, yet somehow it’s SOMEONE ELSE’s fault? Ugh!

    • toomuchgame441

      Thank. You. Thats pretty much all there is to it!

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      I don’t know… I’m kinda siding with the lady on this one. The Play Store never notifies you of a 30-minute window, in fact, most people didn’t even know it existed.

      The game cost 99 cents. She purchased it for them on their tablet. Handed over the tablet and figured she was safe (as she should be) from additional in-app purchases (lest she entered her password in again).

      Will probably get downvoted to oblivion for this, but I think Google should have made the 30-minute window OPTIONAL in the Play Store settings, not enabled by default.

      • KOLIO

        As long as her & her attorney aren’t seeking “pain & suffering” $, I’m w/you.

        In a perfect world, this problem doesn’t exist. The reality is that it does. GOOGLE could do a bit to tighten-up in-app purchases.

        It’s not as if anyone has to push boulders uphill to make in-app purchases w/a bit more security required to do so.

        Also, mom should take a bit more responsibility for her kids actions.

        • Tony Lai

          I am sure the whole point she sues is because she wants the “pain & suffering” $$$$$$$!!! cha~kin~~!!! cha~kin!!

          • KOLIO

            Sad,but probably true………..

      • Michael Quinlan

        If I recall correctly, when you make a purchase and are prompted for your password, there’s a check box for “don’t ask again”. Common sense would indicate that by NOT checking the box, you WILL be asked EVERY subsequent time, until you check the box. Building in the 30 minute “remember me” window without making the window clear on the same screen as the check box is asinine.

        My kids all have their own Google accounts, and have all made purchases using my credit card. BUT, every time this is done, the use a “single use” temporary number issued by my bank, and that number has a spending cap of only a few cents more than their intended purchase.

        I think Google should definitely make this window optional, but that has no bearing on the plaintiff’s responsibility as a parent.

        • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

          That’s the thing though, even when unchecked, you AREN’T asked to enter in your password again for another 30-minutes. That was more than enough time for her kids to jump in and wreak havoc with in-game purchases.

          • Aaron Mayeux

            I’m usually in the personal responsibility camp, but like you say chris, when they give you a check box to “not ask again” it leaves you with the sense that if you leave that unchecked, you will be asked at each purchase attempt.

            Plus, Google should have learned from apples suit.

      • JointhePredacons

        I dont think you have EVER got even ONE downvote Chris. lol. EVER! At least as far as ive seen. I think youve garnered enough trust, and shown enough level headedness that we just respect your opinion whatever it may be. Just wish others were kind to each other in the same way.

        • Wigdogg

          At least one now!

          • http://google.com SRC9

            Make it two.

            I can’t stand people who suck d**k (not a homophobe)

          • JointhePredacons

            Chris sucks d**k youre saying. Thats not nice.

  • dasny97

    You should be able to adjust the window to what your comfortable with. Like the settings in Google wallet for how long until you will need to reenter your pin

  • Krishawn Smith

    sorry, you accept the charges when you accept the store. When you choose to leave your card on file to bill it’s your responsibility.

  • No_Nickname90

    I’ve noticed people are saying she should have monitored her child. I’m not trying to side with anyone, but it’s not like she can sit there and monitor her child 24/7. She turns and looks away, then bam.

    It happens. Now I will say she shouldn’t be suing Google because this happened. Someone mentioned parental lesson, and that’s right. She needs to make sure she finds some way to prevent this, or don’t let her child use the tablet.

    Someone brought up multi-user. That’s one way to solve this. Blaming others is just going to cause this to happen again.

    In other news, is it March 25th yet?

  • IVHorseMen

    As a parent you should always set up parental controls if you’re worried about your children doing or see things they aren’t suppose to on mobile devices, period. It’s called responsibility, Google shouldn’t have to have a some grand notification letting us know about a 30 minute window when if you’re using the play store you can clearly read. Because last time I checked when you open the play store for the first time, there is a long list of terms, conditions, features, security works, etc. Users just need to read, it’s there.

  • Donovan Shore

    If your kids don’t know right and wrong and how not to screw over the parents, then they need to spend that 30 minutes teaching them rather than playing a game.

  • andrew

    someone should sue the parent of this parent for raising a terrible parent

    • scoter man1

      Yeah, it’s really sad to see what society has come to — especially with lawsuits.

      • http://google.com SRC9

        LOLZORZ

    • http://google.com SRC9

      you’re a !!!PRICKly

  • andrew

    In all seriousness though, her credit card is tied to her phone, and she willingly put the phone into the hands of her children. Maybe she shouldn’t have a smartphone if she can’t be responsible with it. She put this on herself.

  • ichuck7

    Can they please make this entering your password for every purchase optional? It’s so annoying on iOS that I can’t choose.

  • Wolf0491

    Personally my own account would never be on a child’s tablet with credit cards. I would make them a Gmail and use strictly gift cards if they want to buy a few titles. I don’t think i would hand my phone over to a child either.

    • Ryan Cave

      I used to feel the same way before I had kids. Now that I have two, I realize this isn’t always practical. Let’s say you’re at a restaurant, and their tablet is dead (or books/toys forgotten at home), and they start throwing a fit (usually just as your food arrives). Before I had kids, I used to think this was a sign of bad kids or bad parents, now I know sometimes even good kids just have a bad day/night (the difference in good/bad parents is how we react). The kids have to use your phone or you have to leave (to be courteous to others around you). So, you download a game, give them your phone, and they rack up a big bill with in-app purchases (or buying more from the Play Store). Seems like a simple solution though: Why not make it an option in the Google Play Store settings to keep the 30 minute window OR require a password with every purchase?
      That said, I don’t let my kids play with my phone unsupervised because I know this is an issue. I wouldn’t blame/sue google… but I would love it if they gave us an option to require a password so I could let them play a game without worry of such charges.

      • rsg

        I would normally agree with you, but what did parents do before smart phones? Carry coloring books, comics and toys. Yes, that is a big hassle as a parent myself of young children. However, after having a few kids I realized it is important to limit the kids “screen time” as the use of electronic devices is actually bad for them as it limits their attention span in reading at school. I am trying to teach my kids to love books now. They have Nexus and iPad devices, but as they get older and in to school, they need to love books, so I’ve now started buying Kindle Paperwhite e-readers for them instead.

        • Ryan Cave

          Great suggestions, we bring those items too… as I said, my phone would be a last resort if tablet, books, etc. we’re unavailable or not working.. But, it would be nice to have that option without worrying about them racking up a bill.

      • Edmond Tso
        • Ryan Cave

          Thanks so much Edmond, but this is exactly the trouble most are unaware of: If you follow these instructions, and buy something in the Google Play Store, your kids (or anyone who grabs your phone) can continue to make Play Store purchases (or in-app purchases) and it doesn’t ask for the password again for 30 minutes.

      • Wolf0491

        While I agree the option should be in the play store, but who know why it isn’t. Your points make sense I suppose as well. I guess I just assume all kids would grow up how I did. I was never allowed to use anything that was my guardians at home or out and about. Now that I think about it I was a very obedient child. From like age of five I was saving money to buy my own Gameboy and games lol.
        I still wouldn’t hand my own phone to a kid though. I don’t give my phone over to other adults generally speaking. If my child is that bad that I can’t go out to eat without them throwing a fit and embarrassing me I wouldn’t go out with them. They don’t deserve it.
        I have been a waitor at a restaurant though and trust me I do know almost every person hands the phone off to the child. I see it everyday. The kids are not usually being bad though. They just give it to them anyway.

      • JointhePredacons

        Sure let your kids use your phone as a babysitting device in the place of being an actual parent. If your kids tablet is dead, theyll have to wait till they get home. Id never hand over my $600 phone to my child anyways. I also have 2 kids and they know when theyre outside they have to behave, no screaming, carrying on, and if their tabs run out of juice its tuff titties till they get home. I call it parenting.

        • Ryan Cave

          See my comments below. I don’t give my kids my phone regularly. This is a last resort, temporary distraction (as we scarf down our food before leaving due to a meltdown). Mine are toddlers and don’t understand “tuff titties” yet (love it!) but you can bet they will soon enough.
          I was just suggesting it would be nice to have the option (password for 30 minutes or password each time). I was NOT suggesting that Google was at fault here, or that anyone should use their phone or tablet as a baby sitter (I think the suit over $66 is stupid).
          Having this option would also help make your phone more secure too (if you so wanted)… so that anyone (a kid, an ex, a co-worker or a criminal) couldn’t pick it up within 30 minutes of your buying something in the Play Store and rack up a bill you then have to contact Google or your credit card co. to dispute.
          Just saying that having options here is good.

          • JointhePredacons

            Yea, lol, “tuff titties” is a callback from when i was a child, it was one of the tamer phrases my parents used, lets just say that. lol. If anything if she wants to dispute the bill she should contact her credit card company, not sue google. I guess i was lucky, me and the wife had well behaved toddlers, very docile. lol.

    • The Credible Hulk

      My daughter kind of took over my nexus 7, yea same deal she has the playstore linked to her own separate account so there’s no accidental purchases.

  • Troy

    I ran into this once on a Kindle fire where I had a warranty replacement that I forgot to block out in app purchases before sending my son to his mother’s house. And once on an iPad that got bit by the same “feature” this article describes. Both times amazon and Apple refunded the money very quickly without any fuss. The games are such where a 5 year old is not going to always easily differentiate between spending coins and real money and it is way too easy to spend $200 on jewels in dragon vale or some other game I have to wonder how many of these people preaching life lessons and such crap even have kids or just makes them feel better for being 30 years old and living in their parents basement. It is not always reasonable or even being a good parent to be watching what your child is doing every second to make sure they don’t misclick something. Given my experience with Amazon and Apple though, I’m surprised Google is being so stubborn. These in app purchases are not for anything tangible. Why not give the money back if it was clearly a mistake?

  • JointhePredacons

    Whatever happened to actual parenting ? So Google is to blame for her letting children play with her phone without laying out ground rules for playing the game. Dumb mother. Sad shes a fellow New Yorker.

    • Carl Rood

      Are you actually a parent? Do you think it’s possible to monitor EVERY SINGLE ACTION a child makes? Even the best parents are human and can’t do everything at once.

      • Luxferro

        would you sue the manufacturer of your purse/wallet if your kid took money from it to buy something they saw on a commercial?

        If that happens, what do you do? Call the police? No, you teach them right from wrong. Same goes for spending money electronically without permission.

        • sdrawkcab25

          yes you would, if that wallet/purse was purchased with the promise that it couldn’t be opened/used without a correct password/combination.

          • Luxferro

            where is that promised? And prove that is the feature that made you buy said product.

            The reality is that the protection could probably be done better, but that is no means to sue. But if it gets google to make it better, then great. But give me a break… suing a multi-billion dollar corp over $60… good luck with that. You know whatever lawyer is representing this person is just out to make a name forthemselves and try to milk money out of google.. cause I don’t think it’s for the $20 they get if the $60 is recovered..lol

      • JointhePredacons

        YES I am a parent. And YES we parents cant do everything at once. But something we can control is whether we put a device with an internet connection into the hands of a child. My children have children appropriate toys, one even has a play smartphone, but i wont allow my kids tablets and smartphones. I just feel that some parents toss a tablet or phone at their children as a pacifier for when they just dont feel like being parents. My parents taught both me and my sister that being a parent is a full time commitment and we both treat it as such.

  • satsmine2k4

    A women who can’t manage her kids… finds sueing a big corp easier — may GOD save US

  • Ilay Ron

    As I know, there is an option to put a password on buying in app money or items.
    She cannot blame Google for what is her fault only.

    • Carl Rood

      Did you even read the thing? It doesn’t require a password for purchases made with 30 minutes of entering it. In other words, a parent can legitimately enter the password for a purchase they’re authorizing and the kid has 30 minutes to buy additional things without consent.

  • LiterofCola

    How about not crapping out kids if you can’t keep them in order.

  • The Credible Hulk

    Its called parenting, try it sometime

    • http://google.com SRC9

      I bet you haven’t tried it.

  • Dan

    I wouldn’t have a problem with the suit going through *if* the plaintiff is forced to file the suit truthfully.

    In this case the claim should read “Google is ‘unfairly profiting’ from the hundreds of parents that aren’t very bright and don’t monitor their children’s actions online.”

    That said, I do think games that have no *meaningful* need for the internet (option to buy e-gems doesn’t count) should be required to still run in airplane mode.

  • http://google.com SRC9

    What is wrong with you lot?

    For god sakes… She is just lettering her child using tablets, would it be more appropriate if she bought one instead and spunked loads of money.

    Everyone on here is so negative. Get over it.

  • Dan

    Of course, it’s Google’s fault… ‘Merica!

    • Wigdogg

      Poor baby!! at least give him a Stella Artois!!

  • chuckles87

    And whatever happend to kids actually playing outside engaging in physical activities

    • frhow

      Outside, a lot of kids are afraid of being outside nowadays.

    • sdrawkcab25

      it is possible for kids to do both…kids still need indoor activities for bad weather or if they are sick or maybe physically handicapped. Everyone likes to think their generation was raised the best…spend too much time romanticizing the past, you’ll just end up left behind.

  • TofuWarrior

    If Apple is guilty of this under the same circumstances, then it’s only fair that Google is guilty as well.

    Refund the money, fix close the loophole and move on.

  • Averix

    I’m sorry, I actually think Google and Apple shouldn’t be held accountable for this. How many protections do we have to put in place to protect stupid people? If you’re buying a game for your kids, that has in-app purchases (oh yeah, it says that on the description page of Google Play) and you hand the phone over to your kid, what do you think is going to happen? In this case, the woman has no idea what her kid is doing. It’s called bad parenting. If that game has $40 in-app purchases, she should delete it immediately if she’s concerned about her children buying that. Too many parents just download crap and hand their phone to their kid to shut them up.

    • sdrawkcab25

      google also has a description that says “use password for in app purchases”; it should actually work…

      • James Woods

        it does. its just that there is a 30 minute window. All they need to do is add a big ass disclaimer for the people who don’t want to research what they’re getting into.
        Also see OC’s post.

    • James Woods

      I agree. What if an app had in game nudity that is described at the bottom of the features, but not shown in pics? *lazy parent: “too busy/onry/dumb to read, pics look cute”…*download* later on: “oh mah Gerd! why my kids got nekkid stuffs on teh fone!?! Lawsuit! lulz” “money money money! everybody has a price!”

      Just like the old lady sever years ago sued America Airlines because the seats go to far back and it hurt her…back. ME: Well then don’t lean it back that far! duh! ….heres your sign…

  • queenren

    Don’t you just love to hear people talk about how to parent when they don’t have kids? Some of the comments to this story are unbelievable!

    Obviously she is suing Google to get them to change that 30-minute window. Because if she didn’t sue them, Google would not care.

    It’s David against Goliath here. And I hope she wins.

    • JointhePredacons

      She really should be embarrassed. Google shouldnt have to change their policy because a grown woman put a cell phone into the hands of a 5 year old.

      • James Woods

        I know right? If derpina wants her kids to play, but not buy anything, then she needs to either buy a cheap second hand phone, or set up parent controls before letting the kids have them. Everything connected to internet or plays media has a parent/content lock. Heck even newer refrigerators connected to the internets have them….

        • James Woods

          And why the hell is she suing Google? It says the kids went to the game’s menu to buy stuff….blame the game creator for not setting up password lock on it as well. hurr derp.

    • Carlos Bailey

      Its not Google fault she didn’t read the games info first. She likey bought the game then gave t to her kids to shut them up. Dumb ass.

  • http://google.com SRC9

    @JointhePredacons:disqus Stop

  • http://google.com SRC9

    @JointhePredacons:disqus You are a gaa4aaa4aaaaaaaaaaaaa4aaaaa4aaaaaa4aaaaaay boooooooooooy

  • http://google.com SRC9

    @disqus_tbHMED8lGk:disqus

  • BronzeLincolns

    if people could sue people for bad parenting the courts would be flooded.