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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Simple Tip to Stop Your Toddler From Making In App Purchases

Kid eating a phone.I have my Google Wallet account setup with a credit card that sends me an email every time that I charge something. It is just my little way of knowing when my card is being used, and gives me a little bit of a heads-up if things go sideways. This little system paid off yesterday when I took my phone away from my toddler, who is always on my phone or my wife's phone. We both have had to change our lockscreens to actually involve numbers or in my case, face unlock. He figured out the 'slide to unlock' pretty quickly and he loves to hit the emergency dial button, type in a fake phone number and get on the phone and talk as if he's been doing that his entire life.
Three charges came through last night for a total of $35 in in-app purchases from an app. I knew my kid had DrawSomething open on my phone, I didn't realize you could buy stuff in the app, or I would have taken the phone away quicker. He bought $24.99 one time and $9.99 twice.
So here's the deal with in-app purchases:
1. It is extremely easy to make the purchase and there is usually just one button press involved. A child or even an adult can make the purchase accidentally. I understand this might be to facilitate impulse purchases, but this makes it dangerous if you have fat fingers or a kid.
2. Getting your money back is almost impossible. I currently am waiting to hear back from OMGPOP regarding my request for a refund. Google Wallet redirects to a getsatisfaction forum, and my credit card company may have to get involved, although they might side with me or might not.
3. This problem is documented on Google's support forums. About a billion times.
4. Complaining on Twitter doesn't help.
5. There is a solution:
In the new Play Store settings is what I was looking for. A requirement for all purchases to require a PIN. You can set the PIN from the settings menu and hopefully you won't deal with what I had to deal with. Set the PIN and then you will be prompted for the PIN when you make a purchase in the Play Store. Hopefully that works for you!