11 year old runs up £3k F2P bill, refused refund and told to "think happy thoughts"

oni-link

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Guardian article

It’s every parent’s nightmare. An 11-year-old from Stockport has run up a £3,000 bill – sending his mother hugely overdrawn – after using Google Play to try to buy credits for his favourite online games.

Like thousands of other parents, Penny Wrinch handed over her debit card details to allow her “highly trustworthy and technically savvy” son Nick to buy games for the family Google Nexus tablet. But she has since been left regretting the move after her bank account was emptied in just a short space of time.

Nick used Google’s Play Store to buy apps and “in-app credits” to enable him to play various games. For several months his purchases went without a hitch, with him spending just a few pounds here and there – all agreed by his mother. But at some point hundreds of payments left her account over a period of just a few days. Fearing that hackers had got access to her bank account, Penny even cancelled her cards.

In fact Nick had simply been trying – and seemingly failing – to buy credits to play football management game Top Eleven 2015 and strategy game Clash of Clans among others. Rather than the expected small number of payments of between £1.49 and £7.99 going out of Penny’s account, it would appear that after making a purchase the credits never reached Nick, causing him to click and click in vain to make them appear.

On 2 March alone, 21 payments of £3.99 and a further nine of £1.49 disappeared from Penny’s account. The next day Nick tried again to buy the credits and the same thing happened – with 18 payments being made to Google. A week later 27 payments of between £2.99 and £6.99 were all debited.

In total, Penny says £3,000 was paid to Google Play over a two-month period, causing her huge financial difficulties. “The whole thing has been a nightmare. Payments bounced, including my credit card bill, and I have incurred bank charges as a result. Nick knows that these credits are bought, and are not free, but we suspect that when nothing happened he kept clicking ‘buy’, completely unaware that the money was leaving my account. I can’t believe that Google don’t have processes in place to stop this happening,” Penny says.

Assuming that Play Store would realise the error and rectify it, Nick’s grandfather Tom contacted Google, only to be told the payments were correct and nothing could be done. Instead of the refund he says he was simply “invited to think happy thoughts”.
£7.99 is hardly a small payment, and surely these games have some kind of system in place to stop tapping over and over to take out payment after payment?

Stories like this seem to pop up more and more now, the people running these stores need better systems in place, £3,000 is insane, that is the kind of money I spend on games over a decade
 

Jonnax

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. Penny Wrinch handed over her debit card details to allow her “highly trustworthy and technically savvy” son Nick to buy games for the family Google Nexus tablet.
Lol. Trustworthy.
 

Sendou

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Maybe don't hand your card details to your 11-yo child?

I'm not saying that Google shouldn't take initiative to resolve incidents like this one but I think there should still remain some amount of common sense.
 

SinSilla

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Penny Wrinch handed over her debit card details to allow her “highly trustworthy and technically savvy” son Nick to buy games for the family Google Nexus tablet.
11 year old with access to crédit card seems like a good idea.
 

dark10x

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So the credits didn't even appear in the game which prompted him to keep trying? They deserve a refund here of that is true.
 

Chariot

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I mean the modell is shitty in general, but that particular situation could've been avoided easily. Don't trust children, especially not your own.
 
Dec 11, 2012
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rofl

"here you go my 11 year old son, remember to be fiscally responsible with this device that gives ample money on demand!"
 

toythatkills

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The issue here is that the kid hasn't got what he paid for, or at least claims thus. He "didn't realise" he was spending the money because he wasn't getting what he was supposedly paying for and so assumed he wasn't being charged.

If that's the legit truth, I don't see any issue with the parenting. Anyone would click again if they thought a transaction hadn't gone through, child or not.
 

harz-marz

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If she is daft enough to give her son her card details, then I have no sympathy!

F2F is still an abomination.
 

Majukun

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Maybe don't hand your card details to your 11-yo child?

I'm not saying that Google shouldn't take initiative to resolve incidents like this one but I think there should still remain some amount of common sense.
pretty muc...i understand the situation for the mother...but no way I'm gonna hand a device with access to my credit card to anyone..let alone a 11 year old
 

YianGaruga

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This could literally happen on any website where you can spend money if you're an idiot.

Lesson learned: Don't give your kids free access to your credit card (what the hell, why would you do that)

That said, google should simply refund them
 

Hex

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I'm sorry, is there supposed to be sympathy here somewhere?
I see a dumb ass parent who needs a lesson taught and this seems like a start.
The kid can not magically input bank information without an adult giving it to them or helping them, so it aways comes back to the adult being a dumb ass and not reading or taking the time to look into what their child is doing.

NO, google should not refund them.
That is asinine.

If Google refunds it, it just keeps happening because someone can always keep pointing to these instances.
Take ownership of your idiocy, and be responsible for your own screw ups unlike most of society these days who always try and find an out or someone else to blame.
 

Jigorath

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If they never actually got the credits then they should get a refund right?

And yeah, don't give your kids access to your credit card information.
 

Prine

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Blame on both here imo. But she really is stupid to hand over her card without researching his purchase.
 

Handy Fake

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The issue here is that the kid hasn't got what he paid for, or at least claims thus. He "didn't realise" he was spending the money because he wasn't getting what he was supposedly paying for and so assumed he wasn't being charged.

If that's the legit truth, I don't see any issue with the parenting. Anyone would click again if they thought a transaction hadn't gone through, child or not.
This.

I came on the thread expecting a woe-is-me tale full of bullshit, but it all seems perfectly plausible and the company (and the parent) could prove that a series of transactions were made within seconds of each other.
 

DontBeThatGuy

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This could literally happen on any website where you can spend money if you're an idiot.

Lesson learned: Don't give your kids free access to your credit card (what the hell, why would you do that)

That said, google should simply refund them[
Yep.
 
Jun 18, 2014
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Perhaps she should try parenting.
The purchases where going through, but he wasn't getting the in game credits, so he kept clicking them thinking the purchase didn't go through. Anybody of any age would have thought "huh, where is the thing I bought? It isn't here, so I guess it didn't work." What would have "parenting" have changed?
 

RalchAC

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Or you could not give your child access to your credit card.

I mean, poor family and all that, but it's not as if a hacker spent the money. They made a bad decision and they're now facing the consequences of that. Even if Google could do something to help them if they wanted, it doesn't have too.

Edit: And should those call the game customer support instead of Google's?
 

Maximus P

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If they never actually got the credits then they should get a refund right?
They should get a refund if that's the truth,but I'm not inclined to believe them as the purchases were made on multiple games,

Surely not every game would have the same error? and why would you keep trying for two months without saying anything?
 

After Nature

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I don't wanna be that guy but seeing how addictive these games are and that the boy didn't actually "feel" the cost of the payments I really doubt the claim that the credits didn't show up. Keep in mind that this was for at least two different games and over a couple of days. Weird glitch to appear in more than one game for so long and for as far as we know only one person.
 

theJohann

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I think many people would press a button repeatedly when nothing happens the first time. It is not the child or the mother's fault at all, and they should be refunded.
 

CecilRousso

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It's easy to say that it's their responsiblity, but it's becoming harder and harder to keep track of all potential traps like these. Games like these are designed to take advantage of people. And it doesn't help that most online platforms like Google Play, App Store, Steam etc are designed to make purchases as easy and quick as possible.

Articles like these are good, as they serve as information and warning to others, even if the ones in ther article might not be able to get any help.
 

Prine

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This.

I came on the thread expecting a woe-is-me tale full of bullshit, but it all seems perfectly plausible and the company (and the parent) could prove that a series of transactions were made within seconds of each other.
Indeed, if that is the case then Google needs to refund them and fine the game company. But having worked with payment systems you cant not know your purchasing something, lawfully you have to provide transaction details at the point of sale. I have a hard time believing 3k worth of transaction in a game didnt include notices to the registered user. Google are responsible for providing this, so even if the game didnt update, they'd be receiving emails shortly after the purchase. Sounds fishy.
 

Emedan

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EU law states that children can't do such purchases as far as I know, so the transactions weren't legal, they should get a refund.
 

winstano

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"Oh but they didn't appear" just sounds like the kind of excuse an 11 year old would come out with even though they clearly did and have been spent. I'd put money on it that he knew full well what he was doing and just went nuts in the games.
 

CaviarMeths

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Nick knows that these credits are bought, and are not free, but we suspect that when nothing happened he kept clicking ‘buy’, completely unaware that the money was leaving my account.
So this wasn't even the kid's excuse. It's the parents' excuse. No, no sir, my son is trustworthy and tech-savvy, there's no way he was doing something that we wouldn't approve of without our knowledge.

Either way, it would be very easy to verify. They just need to check the history to see if indeed the credits were transferred, and especially if the credits were then spent in game.
 

derExperte

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Who doesn't check their account over 2 months?
For several months his purchases went without a hitch, with him spending just a few pounds here and there – all agreed by his mother. But at some point hundreds of payments left her account over a period of just a few days.
So I guess everything worked, some day it didn't and then all this happened.
 

Mandelbo

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Wouldn't it have been a better idea to give an 11-year old prepaid Google Play cards rather than an actual credit card? There basically wouldn't have been any risk there because the card would already have been paid in full and he wouldn't have been able to keep making repeat purchases.
 

oni-link

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This could literally happen on any website where you can spend money if you're an idiot.

Lesson learned: Don't give your kids free access to your credit card (what the hell, why would you do that)

That said, google should simply refund them
While I don't think you should be giving kids your cards anyway, these are games that are designed to appeal to kids, and they are designed to frustrate and gate you into paywalls, which I'm assuming the mother wasn't aware of

If he got the credits then I don't see why he should be refunded, but I feel bad for the mother, 3k is a hell of a lot of money, and the games are designed around getting people into these situations (though normally the whale is someone with a lot of disposable income)
 

Hex

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EU law states that children can't do such purchases as far as I know, so the transactions weren't legal, they should get a refund.
So what is to stop someone from buying a bunch of games or add ons and then saying "oh wot mate, my kid bought those not me I need a refund me" every time?

There has to be an agreement when you put the CC info in that waives that.
 

chibay

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This happened to me too, but from apple. I tried buying the gold bars for AdVenture Capitalist. I paid for it, but didn't receive the gold bars. I assumed there was a problem so I tried buying again and still I didn't get the gold bars. So I gave up.
The next day I received a receipt from apple stating that I purcchased 2 IAP goods from the game.
But luckily, I contacted apple and they refunded my money.
 

Pikma

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Shitty parenting aside it's pretty fucking criminal of Google and all the other companies that let this happen basically say "whoops you gave us 3k by mistake, see ya".

Giving it back is obviously not the solution, preventing it from happening is, but nobody is doing anything to do that and they won't, unless shit like that gets regulated.
 

QaaQer

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Wouldn't it have been a better idea to give an 11-year old prepaid Google Play cards rather than an actual credit card? There basically wouldn't have been any risk there because the card would already have been paid in full and he wouldn't have been able to keep making repeat purchases.
haha, everyone in this story looks bad: Google, the game devs, the parent, and even the kid.

Gotta love mobile gaming.
 

Tenebrous

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Parent is an idiot, but they're now overdrawn, and I wouldn't wish that upon anyone... Hopefully the family can recover, and get back into the black.
 

Shiggy

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If an 11-year-old boy buys something in a store with a credit card without the parents' approval, the store has to issue a refund. The same should be the case here.
 

br0ken_shad0w

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How does the P2W crap in Clash of Clans work anyway? You think a game that big and popular enough would have something in place to prevent credits not showing up....that is assuming the kid is telling the truth.
 

Jintor

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It's pretty bloody apparent here that there was some kind of technical error here which mistakenly caused the customer to enter into additional transactions in the belief their initial transaction had not gone through and that Google is at fault.

There has to be an agreement when you put the CC info in that waives that.
i don't know EU law, but i would suspect you can't contractually waive your consumer rights
 

Sendou

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If an 11-year-old boy buys something in a store with a credit card without the parents' approval, the store has to issue a refund. The same should be the case here.
Although I'm pretty sure that once you give away your credit card information knowingly you don't have the same right.