Apple refunds dad $6,000 iPad bill racked up by 8-year-old

Incredibly, there are still some 8-year-olds who don't know that in-game purchases involve real money. As Lily Neale's aerospace designer dad discovers when his bank account is frozen.

A scene from "My Horse." Kids, horses are expensive. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Dear parents,

You wouldn't trust your kids with your money, so why do you trust them with your iPad? It can amount to the same thing.

I merely wonder this somewhat aloud after the peculiar tale of Lily Neale.

Lily's dad, Lee, gave her his iPad to play with. So Lily played with it. The only problem is that Lily is 8, so when she played with it, she started buying lots of in-game goodies.

You know, trinkets and horses -- or whatever it is you can buy when you're having fun.

One day, dad, an aerospace designer, couldn't put his hand inside his bank account. It was completely frozen.

He looked a little more closely and discovered that his little Lily had spent 4,000 British pounds (the Neales live in Somerset, U.K.) through his iPad. Well, she wanted to be happy.

Apple had sent Lee e-mails to congratulate him on these fine purchases, but, as he told the Mirror, he didn't notice them.

Lily admitted that she'd seen her dad enter a password, had remembered it, and had used it. As you do.

At first, Apple refused to refund his money. It's not as if the company's remit involves parental supervision. (Except when it comes to sex, of course.)

"I was very surprised how dismissive Apple were," Neale told the Mirror. "This was an 8-year-old girl."

He added: "The major culprits were Campus Life, My Horse, and Injustice."

This was not a philosophical musing. These were the games on which Lily spent the most money.

Talking of injustice, for reasons that aren't entirely clear, Apple has now decided to take pity upon Lee's plight. After all, he might have had to sell his car and a couple of motorbikes, he said.

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

Lily is neither the first nor the last child to run up bills on dad's account. Earlier this year, 5-year-old Danny Kitchen racked up $2,500 in a mere 10 minutes on dad's iPad.

Apple also refunded that amount.

Lee Neale now says that these in-app games are iniquitous. They are far too tempting for a little girl who doesn't understand money.

Some might wonder, though, whether the parents shouldn't shoulder a little of the blame.

It must be tempting for Apple, every time it hears one of these stories, to say: "Oh, I'm sorry, dad. Let's go halves on the cost, shall we?"

 

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