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Parents refused refund by Apple after son spends £1700 on free iPad game

UPDATE: Mother - "I do need to take up some learning processes to stop this happening again."

UPDATE #2: Sharon Kitchen, mother of five-year-old Danny, has appeared on BBC Breakfast and admitted that "learning processes" are required to stop the issue happening.

"Having five children, I do need to take up some learning processes to stop this happening again," she said this morning. "Apple has been amazing and has given us step-by-step instructions."

The family was advised to turn off the iPad's 15 minute purchase window where no password was required - or be mindful of young children using the device altogether.

"Unfortunately in today's society we use this technology for education purposes," Kitchen countered. "There are lots of educational things on there as well as games and downloads.

"He just asked for the code to add to the game but he wasn't fully understanding what he did. And to be honest, I'm not sure how he did it."

Kitchen then recounted the story of how she found about the £1700-worth of charges - and how she initially dismissed them as an error.

"Six o'clock Monday morning I checked my email and saw the repeated messages coming through from iTunes. There were a few for £69.99 and it all looked like it was the same thing, so I presumed it was a mistake.

"I didn't think much of it, so with it being Monday morning I just carried on with the day. Later on in the day - it was only when the credit card company called - they asked if 19 credit card transactions were normal. And I said, no it's not.

UPDATE: Technology giant Apple has decided to offer the Kitchen family a full refund, Eurogamer understands.

The entire amount spent - £1710.43 - will be returned to Danny and his parents.

In a statement sent to Danny's father Greg Kitchen, an Apple spokesperson explained: "An in-app purchase contains content or services from within an application that you have already purchased.

"Those are paid enhancements available in-game. Things like weapons, items, extra lives and other enhancements are types of in-game purchase which often fall into this category and in some cases are unintentionally purchased.

"In this case, as the purchases were clearly unintentional, we are pleased to be able to offer you a full refund."

Greg and Sharon Kitchen, and their son Danny.

ORIGINAL STORY: Two parents have been refused a refund from Apple after their son ran up a £1700 bill while playing a free iPad game.

Greg and Sharon Kitchen let their five-year-old son Danny download Zombies vs Ninjas from the App Store after seeing it was a free game.

But, while playing, Danny bought a £69.99 in-app purchase. That's the price of 333 perishable in-game bombs. He then continued to buy similar add-ons 18 more times.

In all, he bought 12 purchases of 333 Keys at £69.99 each and seven packs of 333 ecstasy bombs, again at £69.99 a time.

The couple have described the matter as a simple mistake.

Danny and Zombies vs Ninjas.

"On Sunday afternoon Danny asked my husband for the passcode," Sharon Kitchen explained to news agency SWNS. "We had lots of visitors in the house and were both a little preoccupied. I recall my husband saying 'No - what is it for?' and Danny said 'It's OK, it's a free one, dad'. So my husband keyed in the passcode.

"The following day I noticed there were many e-mails from iTunes. I read a couple and thought it must be a mistake, as there were so many. But I checked my bank account online and there were no transactions so I just forgot about it."

It wasn't until the couple were contacted by their bank that Sharon Kitchen realised something was wrong.

"Later on in the day I received a phone call from the credit card people asking if 19 transactions of £69.99 each were normal," she explained. "Much to my horror, my son had clocked up £1,329."

Two days later the total rose again to £1700, as other purchases trickled through. Danny had bought five packs of 9000 darts, each costing £69.99, plus five lots of 4200 darts at £5.49 each and additional bombs totalling £3.22.

"When I realised I called my husband and asked him to sort this out," she continued. "It was far too easy a thing for him to do and more should be done to limit stuff like this from happening.

"That game is very annoying - and who would spend more than £1,700 on a game? It's the first time any of our kids have done anything like this - and it will be the last."

But, despite the couple's efforts, Apple has not issued them a refund.

"As of yet we are still waiting for iTunes to recognise that this was a big mistake.

"Danny has been in tears when we told him how much money he had spent. Loads of parents in the playground said similar things had happened to them but for a lot less money."

Apple has responded to the report by explaining the parental controls that are present in all iOS devices - including the function to disable in-app purchases.

"All iOS devices (iPad, iPhone and iPod touch) have built in parental controls that give parents and guardians the ability to restrict access to content, eg internet access and age rated content such as music, games, apps, TV shows, movies etc.

"Parental controls also give parents and guardians the option to turn off functionality such as purchasing from iTunes and the ability to turn off in-app purchases.

"Our parents' guide to iTunes details the steps and measures parents and guardians can take to make sure younger players have access to the right content. The first thing we recommend is not to share your password."

In the US, Apple is now required by law to offer refunds in such cases involving children, following the lawsuit by another angry parent there.

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