A desperate mother has condemned Microsoft after her 11-year-old son racked up a £1,000 debt on her debit card - through his Xbox. Brendan Jordan racked up a bill of £1,082.52 on his Xbox without realising all the purchases were being charged to his mum Dawn Matthews' card. The schoolboy made the payments to buy accessories and new games on his console after it saved the details of a previously registered card.
Single mum-of-two Dawn, 37, from Strood, Kent, has now complained to Microsoft but claims the computer giant is ignoring her.
"When I put my card details in 18 months ago I thought it was just for his membership to play online with his friends. I work two jobs just to look after my family and pay the bills so I cannot afford all these extortionate charges. A thousand pounds isn't that much to people like Bill Gates, but for a single mum it is a lot of money that I don't have. The bank and Microsoft are blaming each other and no one is helping me. It has taken me ages to permanently get rid of my card details from the website. It was only when I made a complaint that they took all my details off.”
Dawn, who works as a sales executive and part-time singer, lives with Brendan and her 13-year-old daughter Abigail.She entered her debit card details into the family Xbox to pay for Brendan's subscription to his favorite game. However, Brendan repeatedly clicked on additions and extensions - racking up a £1082.52 debt to her account over six months. Microsoft say they offer parental control accounts so parents like Dawn can monitor what their children are spending.
Microsoft claim that Dawn's bill could have been prevented if she'd have activated the Family Settings on the X-Box but Dawn wants her experience to be a lesson to other parents and blames Microsoft for making it 'too easy' for her son to spend the money.
“Brendan is 11 and knows his times tables but it was only when I explained to him that he realized how much money he had spent. When I showed him he burst into tears. He unplugged the Xbox and said he didn't want it anymore. I haven't punished him because he feels bad enough and I know he won't do it again. It is ridiculous to allow someone of his age to make payments without any checks being done.
When he is in gaming mode he can't be thinking about the money. You can't put all that responsibility on a young boy. It is impossible to monitor everything your children do. These companies should take some responsibility. They take advantage of vulnerable people.”
A spokesman for Microsoft claimed that a parental control setting would have prevented Brendan from spending Dawn's money.
“With over 30M Xbox LIVE members across the world customer complaints of this nature are extremely rare. Microsoft's goal is to provide parents and caregivers with tools and resources to manage their children's gaming and entertainment experiences so that they can play in ways that are safer, healthy and more balanced. To accomplish this, we've built-in parental controls in every Xbox 360, work closely with retailers and recently launched the Play Smart, Play Safe website as an online resource for families.
'It should also be noted that LIVE accounts registered for children's use have online activity automatically defaulted to off, these can be enabled by the parent should they wish in the Family Settings section.”
So I ask you GB community. Where does the blame falls? The mom for not taking the time and go through every inch of the xbox and learn about how to regulate her son’s gaming habits?
The kid for not realizing that all his XBL shopping actually costs money and not realizing every time he adds MSP it will charge his mom’s debit card (after all it clearly lets you pick method of payment)?
Does the blame falls on MS for not making it clear enough for parents who clearly have no idea how the system operates?
Are they [MS] to blame for automatically adding her debit card after she only used it once for buying her son a gold subscription?
On one hand I completely understand the mom for having to pay a bill that high for the misunderstanding and having a son who clearly was not paying (the irony) enough attention every time he was adding MSP and doing all the shopping. On the other hand I understand MS as they technically not to blame for this situation as they do have manuals and vids on XBL who clearly let parents monitor their child online and offline gaming habits.
While MS can clearly take that loss I understand why they aren’t waving that fee as it can potentially open up law suits from people who will abuse that by raking up debts and then claiming to have made an innocent mistake due to not understanding the terms.
personally I think the blame falls on all parties involved and while I completely identify with both view points I think MS should take that loss and do some good. She clearly is not trying to scheme her way out of something that was premeditated. All in all it should be a good PR for MS.