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Apple apologizes after refusing to refund mom for $1.1k in app store purchases made by young son

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Our Consumer Matters reporter Anne Drewa was called in to help a mother whose son had unknowingly racked up a big bill with Apple, after buying games on his tablet. – May 3, 2021

When Maria Vasquez checked her phone after finishing work, she was stunned to find several alerts showing charges to her Apple account.

“Of course I was shocked,” the Langley resident said. “I was in a state of ‘what to do’ because as a single mom it is not easy.”

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Vasquez says her nine-year-old son, Thenniel, unknowingly made purchases from the Apple app store, charging her account $1,116.32.

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Among the purchases were popular games like Roblox and Coin Master.

Thenniel has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Vasquez says he didn’t realize the games cost money.

“He’s a minor. He’s nine years old with autism,” said Vasquez.

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The incident began last July when Vasquez says she was updating Thenniel’s iPad, which synchronizes with her phone. She says she didn’t realize at the time that her son had memorized her password.

“He was next to me when I was doing that and it was just seven characters and since he has ASD that’s one of his strengths,” she said. “Their memory is really strong. They can really memorize.”

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Vasquez says she repeatedly reached out to Apple to explain what had happened with her son and requested a refund.

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In a letter to Vasquez, Apple said a refund could not be approved and the case was closed. The tech giant recommended Vasquez review Apple Media Services Terms and Conditions.

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“I’m mad because it’s not reasonable,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez reached out to Consumer Matters for help. Within a week, she received a full refund.

In a statement to Consumer Matters, Apple said:

“All of our products have built-in tools and resources to help customers actively protect themselves and their families from unauthorized use and spending, and we take extra care to help parents better manage their child’s device use.

“Ms. Vasquez has been provided with a full refund and an apology this didn’t happen sooner. We have made significant changes since this incident occurred last year, and continually improve our processes to better serve our users.”

Apple says all of its customers are provided with built-in tools and resources to help parents better manage their child’s use of devices, including parental controls — all of which can be found on the Apple website.

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