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Parental Controls

So thanks to the Daily Mail and MCV I have something to rant about this evening.

The following story was run in the Daily Mail a few days ago.

Boy, 12, unwittingly ran up £1,150 bill on father’s credit card by racking up ‘Microsoft Points’ while playing on his Xbox

Now apart from the glaring mistakes throughout the article from a reporter who is obviously as naive to the industry as the father in article, the sensationalist nature is what really bothers me.

As far as I’m concerned there is not so much as one shred of evidence that this situation is anyone faults but the parents.

Let’s start at the beginning here, the kid is twelve and is playing Call of Duty, that for me is a red flag in itself. Obviously as anyone who plays COD will know this is not unusual, based on my own experience I would guess that well over half the COD population is below the legally required age to purchase the product, but that doesn’t make it right.

The father in question claims

‘I didn’t even know that it was storing my information, and even if that thought had entered my head I would have thought there would be something in place so it wasn’t so easy to spend money.

‘With sites like eBay and iTunes it always asks you for a password before you make a purchase.

‘But with Xbox Live you just press a button and then your money’s gone.

Now it’s been a pretty long time since I have used Xbox live, so perhaps he is correct or at very least it is understandable that he wasn’t aware that the credit card information was stored, although as far as I can remember the terminology is “add this card to this account” or something of this nature, which to me would at very least suggest that this is a permanent attachment. Not to men tion the fact that he had set up the credit card to take the £5.99 a month for Xbox Live, if the information wasn’t stored how exactly did he think they were going to continue to charge him?

Second and for me most importantly it did indeed ask for his password, much in the same way as Ebay or iTunes, his son had to log into his Xbox Live account using the required username and password to be able to make a purchase using the credit card allocated to that account, as far as Microsoft are concerned the account holder had logged in and therefore was able to make purchases to that account.

The article also claims

The youngster thought he had earned the points for scoring goals and killing villains and he used these to add extra weapons for his soldier in hit game Call of Duty and players in football game Fifa.

What this is referring to is achievement points, basically points that you earn by completing various feats with in any game that then add to your Gamerscore allowing you to show just how much better you are than your fellow Xbox players.

I don’t buy for a second that little Timmy didn’t know the difference between Achievement points and Microsoft points, but lets for a moment suspend my disbelief and assume that he didn’t, looking at the bank statement shown in the article its clear to see (by the values) how little Timmy made his purchases.

He didn’t just click on his desired COD maps or FIFA ultimate packs add them to check out and bang the money has left the account. He instead purchased the points at £17.00 or 2100 Microsoft points and THEN went to the shop to use the points that he had just purchased to buy the items that he wanted, meaning that he realised that he knew that the Achievement points that he had earned within his game could not be used as currency as he knew he had to purchase Microsoft points in order to buy the products that he wanted from Xbox Live.

All in all this comes down to a complete lack of both common sense as well as a failure to own up to ones mistakes.       

Frankly I’m not really sure what the father in question expects from Microsoft, he complains that

‘I would have thought they’d be a bit more helpful with parents but once they’ve got the money they just say “it’s not our problem”.’

But let’s be honest it isn’t, your lack of parenting skills, disinterest in what you child was doing and totally failure to monitor your own finances (this did happen over 7 months) are your own problem not theirs.

Not to mention there is a pretty simple fix, report your son for credit card fraud, that is after all what this is and I’m pretty sure that you would get your money back and all at only the minor inconvenience of your child paying some consequences for his actions.

  1. July 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    How on Earth somebody can let over £1150 leave their account over a sustained period and not notice is beyond me. Gosh, I notice every single transaction that takes place on mine, from the big stuff to the tiny ones.

    I’ve heard stories like this before and it shows nothing but a complete lack of competency on the parent’s behalf. They allowed their child to play games they shouldn’t have played and use an account they were idiotic to give them access to and when things eventually went wrong, the easiest response was to blame Microsoft whilst pretending that their own stupidity didn’t contribute at all.

    It also doesn’t surprise me that the Daily Mail picked up on this as their agenda regarding video games has never been positive, nor will it ever. There is categorically nothing in that sorry excuse for a journalistic output that is either factually correct or free from some degree of bias.

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