- Mar 15, 2023
A 10-year-old girl spent over 2,500 pounds on the Roblox gaming website after changing the password on the family's tablet without her mother's knowledge. Georgina Mondai alerted other parents to be cautious. Initially, Tesco Bank refused to refund the money, but after the issue was taken up by BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme, they reviewed the case and apologized. Roblox said it has a "strong policy" on unauthorized payments, and Apple advises parents to use pre-purchase alerts to prevent this.
Roblox allows users to create their own games, but also offers in-app purchases to upgrade a user's avatar with items such as clothing or accessories, and some games are paid.
Georgina Mondai, 44, said her daughter, who has autism, had been playing on her tablet for longer periods recently after leaving school due to struggling in mainstream education. She initially thought someone had hacked her daughter's account, but soon realized her 10-year-old daughter had changed the password to allow her to make the purchases.
Georgina said: "We saw hundreds of transactions and payment confirmations, and then panic set in." Her daughter was able to spend over 2,500 pounds on the website, most of which were small transactions of around 20 pounds each time. Georgina, who is a nurse, remained in direct contact with Apple and her bank, Tesco, for almost a week, trying to recover the amount, but they both refused - she said it was "a terrible time."
Apple said there are ways to set up accounts to alert a parent before a child wants to make a purchase. They added that parents and guardians should not disclose passwords or enable facial recognition or touch ID for their children, and should set up the "Ask to Buy" feature so that they can approve purchases before they are made.
She said that enabling the time limit feature would also allow parents to stop in-app purchases. Roblox players can build games using development tools provided by the platform. Tesco Bank said: "We conducted a further review of this case and agreed to refund the full amount to the mother." They added: "We apologize to Mondai for not being able to do so the first time, and therefore we paid her an additional amount as a goodwill gesture."
Georgina said she never feels happy leaving her daughter to play this game again. She added: "I knew what she was doing, and she changed the password, but I don't think she understood the severity of what happened." Georgina said parents should "be vigilant" and know what their children are playing. She added: "Kids are one step ahead of parents these days. We thought Roblox was completely innocent and very basic. It's a whole world in Roblox that we knew nothing about."
Roblox said it has a "strict policy for processing refund requests when there are unauthorized payments from someone's account." "This process is detailed in the Help section." "Parents can also use a range of parental control tools to set the amount their children can spend and set spending notifications to increase the clarity of their children's spending on Roblox."