How to Turn Off In-App Purchases on your iPad, and Avoid a $2500 Bill

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 7.37.01 PMLast week the Kitchen family in the UK got a shock: A bill from Apple for approximately $2500.

No, they didn’t buy 5 iPads. They merely handed the one they had over to their 5 year old son.

Apparently, Dad downloaded a ‘free’ game for his son, and gave him the iPad to play with for just 15 minutes. In those 15 minutes, the little boy managed to tap an in-app purchase button enough times to rack up the huge bill.

You can read more about this story, here.

Many apps use the “free, but with in-app purchases” approach. Sometimes this just means free-to-try for a while, and if you like it, you can buy it from within the app. Other apps charge you for ‘things’ within it. A painting app might charge you for new brushes, while a gaming app might charge you for new levels or tools to use within the game.

Personally, I don’t mind the type that lets you try before you buy. But I tend to stay away from the apps that encourage “extras” from within. Just seems a bit greedy to me.

Anyway ….. if you are an adult who finds himself/herself handing over your iPad occasionally to your child, your grandchild or any other child who wanders into your life, you should fix the settings so that you do not find yourself opening a surprise bill in your inbox.

Here is how you fix your settings to prevent in-app purchases:

Go to Settings > General > Restrictions. (if you have not tapped on restrictions before, you will be asked to enter a pin. Remember this!!) and then slide down to where you see “In-App Purchases”

Tap the button to turn it OFF.

Photo Skitch Document-2

Happy ending for this family. Apple refunded the parents. But if your iPad finds its way into the hands of a child, it would be very wise of you to make sure the in-app purchase ability is switched to ‘off’. 🙂

12 thoughts on “How to Turn Off In-App Purchases on your iPad, and Avoid a $2500 Bill

    • What a great point, Valerie. I remember complicated rates to maneuver, cheaper on weekends, or after 5, but it would go up on Sunday at 5 …. Thanks for the memory! 🙂

    • It’s a good idea if you have children using your iPad. When you want to make a purchase yourself, you can always change it back. Just be sure to remember the pin number you use for the restrictions. 🙂

  1. Wow, what a shocker! Those kinds of restrictions might be needed for adults as well. I don’t know about others, but many times, I don’t read fine print as carefully as I should. The other thing that happens to me just concerning my mouse is that sometimes I press one thing, and something close by registers. I can see how anyone who is not careful might end up with something they don’t want. Probably not to the tune of $2,500, though! Great post! 🙂

    • Good point, Marsha. Once you ‘understand’ in-app purchases, you can be alert for them, but it’s all too easy to buy extra levels, etc., if you are not really paying attention. 🙂

  2. My parents used a home phone that could only be used with the use of a key. I thought they were such misers for doing that… Naturally, as I grew older and became the ‘payer’ of such bills, I understood how wise they had been… Mind you, times have changed and so have the bills…! Yikes. They were so lucky that Apple was kind… 😉

    • And the “internet” wasn’t even in our imagination back in the pay-as-you-go phone days. I wonder what’s ‘next’ that we can’t imagine, now? The big bill of the future? Smart parents in your house! I think a few iPads might be better off under lock and key. 🙂

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