A guide to how to turn off in-app purchases on an iPad to avoid potentially running up expensive costs.
The Office of Fair Trading has delighted some by asking for evidence to see if consumers are being ripped off by petrol companies.
The OFT issued a "call for information" today as it looks at whether reductions in the price of crude oil are being passed on to motorists.
Games trade body Ukie said all its members "take their responsibility to their players, particularly children, very seriously".
Ukie chief executive Jo Twist said:
We welcome any guidance from the OFT [Office of Fair Trading] to clarify how they are interpreting the law and shall be taking our time to digest the proposed guidelines before responding fully to the OFT’s consultation.
The maker of the free-to-download game Smurfs' Village said the last thing they want "is to be misperceived as taking advantage of children."
Capcom, the parent company of games maker Beeline, said: "Since this issue has come to our attention we’ve added a number of features and messages to the game to help protect customers.
"If a customer purchases in-App content by accident, they may also request a refund.”
A five-year-old boy managed to ring up a £1,700 bill buying extras on an app he had downloaded "in 10 minutes" his mother has said.
Sharon Kitchen told Daybreak how her son Danny managed to rack up with eye-watering charges on his Dad's iPad:
The online games app industry has been warned by the Office of Fair Trading of "potentially unfair and aggressive commercial practices" that could target "susceptible" children to pay to continue playing 'free' web and app-based games.
As an experiment, Daybreak asked four children to play games that were free to download but each child was given the password to buy extras.
Harry managed to spend £87.98 on the game in just 15 minutes - and he did not realise he had spent any at all.
When asked Harry said, "I didn't spend any I don't think."
The makers of Smurfs' Village, the game the children played, said once they became aware of the problem they made changes to the game, including limiting the number of possible transactions.
Children playing games downloaded as apps are not always aware they are spending money, a Daybreak experiment found.
The four children taking part in the experiment were given a password they could use to buy extras. All of the children went on to use the password and spent money:
The OFT has released eight principles for 'pay to play' online game developers, which it plans to begin enforcing in April next year.
- Games should display clear, accurate, up-front information about the costs associated with a game before consumers download it
- Games should provide clear contact details for the business - which should respond rapidly to consumer complaints
- Games should not give false impressions that payments are an integral part of the way the game is played if that is not the case
- Games should not include aggressive practices, or ones that exploit a child's inexperience, such as implying a character would be disappointed if they did not spend money
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, made these suggestions for preventing children being exploited by the online gaming industry:
- Rules that stop bait pricing on games predominantly targeted at children
- Wealth warnings both at the start of games and inside app stores to indicate it is an in-app purchase game
- Caps on how much can be spent on such purchases within an hour, which can only be removed by the cardholder.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, described the OFT consultation into online gaming charges as "flaccid".
– Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com
When games like My Little Pony and others charge £69 a pop for children to buy 'gems', there is something almost sinister happening.
Many of these free games take advantage of children's confusion between virtual and real money and some parents' technical illiteracy.
The OFT consultation is flaccid - the problems are apparent and games makers and app stores need to be held to account.
Citizens Advice has called for OFT guidelines to back strong enforcement for online games that try to pressure players into making purchases.
The service said one man it helped had been landed with a £200 bill racked up on a game played by his 10-year-old son, and was told the only way to get his money back would be to sue the child.
– Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice
The scandal of online games which try to pressure or trick players into making extra purchases must end.
We've seen parents turning to us after their children inadvertently run up huge bills for downloads, so we welcome the OFT's moves to clamp down on the practice.