Play Store allows 30 minutes of unsupervised spending, double the App Store [Update]

January 17, 2014
20

Earlier today, Apple signed an agreement to refund over $30 million to parents who's children spent unsupervised in the App Store. The parents were unaware that once the password was entered, kids could shop as they pleased for 15 minutes. Of course, this raises concerns about the Play Store. Can the same thing happen on Android? Yes. Actually, it’s potentially worse.

 Via the Play Store, unsupervised kids could spend frivolously for up to 30 minutes, doubling the App Store time limit. Consumer Reports went ‘undercover’ so to speak, by posing as a child on the Play Store. They purchased a game geared towards kids, then made several in-app purchases after they started playing.

To keep it on an even keel, they purchased the same game that made headlines in the Apple suit. A parent claimed their child racked up about $2,600 playing Tap Pet Hotel, which was one of the more sensational stories of the suit. Consumer Reports claims to have the password protection feature enabled, too.

Though several in-app purchases were made, the real kicker comes in going bak to the Play Store. The researcher was able to leave the game, and go back into the Play Store and buy another app for $2.99, all without the need for a password. All tolled, his 30 minute foray into childhood cost his adult self $9.92.

After 30 minutes, the password wall kicked back in, but not before a small fee was racked up. Though he took it easy on himself, the researcher from Consumer Reports could have easily made one or more in-app purchases of $49.99 — or even $99.99. We’ve reached out to Google for coment, and will update should we hear back.

Update: A Google spokesperson gave us the following statement:

"We always appreciate feedback and are currently working on new features that give our customers even more information and control over their Google Play purchases"


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  • John Moore

    It’s always going to be the kid’s fault they made a ton of purchases, not the company’s (though apparently it was never seen that way in Apple’s case).

  • Scott Larsen

    This is interesting but the copy editor needs to find a new line of work.

    • DD

      i noticed that too!! hehe

  • JPB

    I haven’t set up my tablet this way but can’t you set up a child’s user profile on Android? Does that restrict store spending?

    • hohopig

      yes it does

  • aka

    Its funny, now parents want google/apple to babysit their son.

  • Ray

    If I were Apple, I would have told parents to wake the f*ck up and start paying more attention to what their kids are doing.

    That being said, if parents are stupid enough to hand a mobile device to their kids with an active credit card or billing source tied to it, especially without a password, then that parent deserves everything that is coming to them.

    • melhiore

      Amen!!

    • Deesonw22

      Absolutely, a 700.00 device is not a babysitter, it is a tool for the parent, buy a small tablet for the child and lock it down, when the child runs up a bill on that device that the parent handed the child to shut them up for a few minutes, or they break the screen, then it’s the child’s fault or the carriers fault, never the parents responsibility.

    • davidgeek

      That would be great if App Store and Google Play says explicitly what happens after you input the password. One of the first purchases i made on the App Store i was surprised after playing around the store and purchasing another app without being requested for my password (as a “it is so annoying to type the password everytime i want to make a purchase… oh wait, damn!”). They doesnt, and it is pretty clear that you dont have kids for your words as it seems that you would every second of everyday checking what they are doing (and for gods sake, please never have one). I imagine yourself checking if they are even sleeping, probably putting a motion sensor on his room just to be sure that he is and is not reading or any other things kids do while they are supposed to be sleeping (hell, how despicable of them to try to cheat their parents).

      • Ray

        I shouldn’t have kids because I would be a responsible parent and not hand them a expensive device linked to my credit card or other form of online billing, that they could then use to purchase what ever they like, as often as they like???

        Yeah, ok, that makes perfect sense that one! Maybe I should just hand them my credit card and send them on a shopping spree, on their own, at the local markets – let them buy whatever they want from any store, regardless of price? That sounds like a sensible thing to do, doesn’t it?

        NOT!

        And yes, if I did send my kids to bed, I would be checking that they are sleeping and not screwing about – especially if they needed to get up for school the next day. Isn’t that a responsible thing for a parent to do? Actually care about their kids well being? Making sure they are doing as they told?

        Seriously, go and type your garbage elsewhere.

      • davidgeek

        You are supposing that you DO know that after buying a kid’s app for your child to play at, say, the ipad, your credit card stays active for more purchases after that one. You DO NOT know that because nor Google Play nor App Store tells you so. So you find at this situation: you buy a game for your kid, the kid is playing the app after you have given it a try, so it is safe for him to play. But, whooops, you didnt know that he could make purchases in game without writing the password for your account. At the end of the month you find a big bill in your bank account.

        It is so hard to understand that this is not a parents problem but an Apple/Google problem for not giving enough information to the users?

        So, well, a responsible parent checks that their childrens are sleeping… but the parent does have to sleep too… It seems that you wouldnt sleep for 18 years just checking every second of every day what your child is doing.

        NOT!

        Seriously, go and type your garbage elsewhere.

      • Ray

        It seems like you are just an irresponsible parent and I really dislike irresponsible parents, especially those that try to justify their stupity by blaming others.

        I’m not debating this further with you.

      • davidgeek

        Oh, wait, fastest way to accept that you are wrong xD

      • Ray

        Nope. I just can’t be stuffed arguing with an idiot that sounds like a child himself!

      • davidgeek

        Sure, sure, xDDDDD

    • Tisia Sims

      I wouldn’t have said it so harsh, but Ray is right. As parents we are to know what our children and grandchildren are doing. if they want to buy something make it to where they have to ask you first. I understand that we try to trust our kids but, kids will be kids when they really want something.☆

  • someoneasdf

    Android users are smarter and don’t need to be babysat, hence no lawsuit for an even larger window.

  • Android Developer

    Why can’t they just set the device in airplane mode or turn off the wifi ?

    anyway, i was also surprised that the play store didn’t ask for password after i’ve set a credit card, since it had a checkbox that i’ve left unticked that says to avoid asking me of putting passwords (hence it should ask for password each time i request to buy something).

  • Scott Hendry

    trust your kids and teach them to know better.

    or just blame Apple and Google for your problems. whatever.