Office of Fair Trading investigates free children’s web and app-based games

After children rack up huge bills, UK government to look into aggressive in-app purchases

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In the last year there have been many reports from angry parents that young children are accidently running up huge mobile phone bills due to expensive ‘free’ web and app-based games.

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The UK government will examine whether kids are being put under unfair pressure to pay for additional content to complete these games, which are usually free to download.

The investigation follows a number of cases in which parents only discovered a child’s spending after being presented with a huge bill.

In February, 5-year-old Danny Kitchen was reported to have spent £1700 on free iPad game Zombies vs Ninjas. He opted in on a string of in-app purchases, each worth £69.99.

As part of this investigation, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will also consider whether the full cost of some of these games is made clear when they are downloaded or accessed, potentially misleading children and parents.

OFT Senior Director for Goods and Consumer, Cavendish Elithorn said: “We are concerned that children and their parents could be subject to unfair pressure to purchase when they are playing games they thought were free, but which can actually run up substantial costs.”

“The OFT is not seeking to ban in-game purchases, but the games industry must ensure it is complying with the relevant regulations so that children are protected. We are speaking to the industry and will take enforcement action if necessary.”

Has your child rung up a huge bill on phone apps with expensive in-app purchases? Let us know below…

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