A director at the World Bank says he’s considering suing Microsoft after his 13-year-old son was able to spend $US4,500 on characters in soccer video game FIFA over several months without him realising.
Writing on Medium, Jeremy Hillman says that when checking his credit card bill recently, he noticed four unexplained charges of $US109 from Microsoft. “After a meltdown of sobbing and tears,” his son revealed that he had used Hillman’s credit card details saved on the Xbox to buy optional add-on player packs for FIFA. And after calling Microsoft in an attempt to get a refund, he discovered there were “more than $US4,5000 of charges for virtual FIFA players going back several months.”
Hillman, who works as director of corporate communications at the World Bank, says that Microsoft refused to refund him the money his son spent on the game.
Our policy states that all purchases are final and non-refundable. A purchase confirmation email was sent to email: [email protected] [Hillman’s son] each time a purchase was made because that is the email that was designated as a contact email on the billing profile …….. you are responsible for any material that a user of your Services account accesses or is denied access to (including as a result of your use or non-use of Parental Controls). You acknowledge that use of our settings is not a substitute for your personal supervision of minors that use your Services account.
“Losing $US4,5000 for many families would be a life-changing disaster,” Hillman writes. “For us it is very upsetting and means we’ll have to tighten our belts and forgo some luxuries but we will recover relatively quickly.”
Nonetheless, he’s still angry with Microsoft, questioning why there were no automatic checks on how much could be spent in the game, or why there was no option to have it request the card details be re-entered for each purchase (Hillman entered them himself initially to pay for the game).
The issue of parental controls on payments has been a hot topic in recent years. Apple has previously been criticised after media reports of children spending hundreds — or even thousands — on their parents’ cards. It’s possible to lock down iOS devices so card details need to be reentered if it’s 15 minutes after the last purchase, however.
“If Microsoft wanted to spare thousands of parents from the frustration, anger and sometimes, serious financial consequences then it could find hundred ways to do it,” Hillman concluded. “If there’s a lawyer out there that wants to start a class-action against Microsoft and force them into compensation and adopting a better policy I’ll happily sign up.”
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment, and will update when they respond.