A mum was left stunned when she realised her ten-year-old son had racked up a £600 bill playing a FREE game on her iPhone.
Lee Walters downloaded the 'Hay Day' app on his mum's device and did not realise that when he was clicking the 'buy now' button during his three hours play, that he was buying virtual diamonds and coins at £19 a time.
His shocked mum Katharyne, 42, was then left with a massive £613 bill.
"I'm not a stupid person but this has made me feel really stupid. I'm devastated," she told SWNS. "I've been in a terrible state. I knew straight away what was happening. It's a child's game that attracts children. It could happen to so many people."
She said she had kept control of the password when she had given Lee her old handset to play on, but thinks that because the system stores the code for 15 minutes, he was able to press the 'buy now' option – which appeared more than 12 times an hour – without being prompted for it.
Katharyne says more safeguards need to be in place to stop children unwittingly running up bills from 'free' games.
"I wouldn't allow children to have anything like that if they can spend money on it," she said, explaining that Lee had been playing the game last Saturday when staying with his auntie.
"We were away on business and he was staying with my sister," his mum said. "As soon as I saw the emails coming through on the Sunday I cancelled my card and got in touch with Apple."
She said that it should be more widely known that passwords are saved for a period of time after buying a game.
"What they don't tell you is if you download a free app, your phone holds the password for 15 minutes," she said.
She added that Lee didn't realise he was spending actual money because the game had a 'GBP' button instead of a pound sign.
"He plays other games and he always knew to ask. I drilled it into him that he could only have free apps," she said. "In his innocent little head he was playing a game that wasn't costing anything."
Hay Day is a farm experience app where children can harvest crops, build bakeries and rear animals. It is free to play, but iTunes warns that some items used in the game can be bought for real money.
Apple have now refunded Katharyne, and reminded parents to use the restrictions on the game to stop unwanted 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," their spokesperson said. "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."
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