Xbox Live Sam Ghera

A 12 year old boy recently ran up a sum of £1,150 on his father’s credit card on Xbox Live, and dad’s crying foul, saying the kid didn’t know it was real money.

British dude Sam Ghera had registered his credit card on Microsoft’s console and online service for his son to cover the £5.99 monthly cost of Xbox Live. The 48 year old father didn’t know that his son Nik had spend the sum (equivalent to almost $1,800 USD) for “weapons and extra features” playing Call of Duty and Fifa on Xbox Live with his friendsSam says that between December and June, Nik spent away, not noticing that his game enhancements were costing “real world money.”

Sam obviously wants Microsoft to refund the money, since clearly, there’s no possible way a 12 year old kid could know that buying things costs money.

“With sites like eBay and iTunes it always asks you for a password before you make a purchase,” says Sam. “But with Xbox Live you just press a button and then your money’s gone. I contacted Microsoft but six months down the line they’re still saying they’re looking into it.”

Someone’s not telling the truth here. Xbox Live gives you a head’s up before you purchase points that it will indeed cost real world money – dollars, pounds, et cetera. There’s no way this 12 year old is “smart” enough to use an Xbox, get through all of the choices for the store and go through with a purchase, but not smart enough to know what the system is telling him. And if he were a 12 year old kid going through this for the first time, he’d be timid to incur those real money transactions.

Then there’s dad. He’s familiar with systems storing credit card info, such as eBay and iTunes, but that logic didn’t translate to the Xbox? And furthermore – Sam didn’t notice that for six months, Nik was spending money without his father’s permission?

Also, let’s not forget that Sam was letting his son, Nik, play Call of Duty – an M-rated game in the US, and rated 18 in Europe’s PEGI system. We’re sure every other player over 18 (including us 8Bitrs) really appreciates this dumb underage kid on their team. So much for winning that round, fellas.

There’s a reason why Microsoft hadn’t returned Sam’s call. The kid knew that he was spending his dad’s money, and dad’s embarrassed that he doesn’t check his credit card statement every month like a normal human being. According to Sam himself, he only found out about Nik’s spending when he tried to withdraw some cash from his account (six months down the line) and was told there was insufficient funds.

This story showed up on Reddit, and one reader took a screenshot of the Xbox Live Microsoft Points purchase screen:

Xbox Live Purchase Screen

Xbox Live Purchase Screen, photo by Reddit user Deantoir17

So, that’s that.

A Microsoft spokesperson replied to the issue in The Daily Mail:

Throughout the purchase of any digital product on the Xbox LIVE service there are multiple opportunities where consumers are asked to confirm their purchases.

The price is clearly displayed on the screen throughout this process, it should also be noted that Xbox LIVE accounts registered for children’s use have online activity automatically defaulted to off, and these can be enabled should the parents wish to in the family settings section.

‘These settings include specifying the email address to which all purchase notifications are sent and using other features, such as “over the shoulder approval,” that allows the account holder to give permission for purchases by typing in the password. We remain committed to working with the customer to help them further and offer guidance on the many control settings we offer on Xbox LIVE.

‘The online safety of our members remains of the utmost importance, which is why we consistently take measures to protect Xbox LIVE against ever-changing threats.

As always, we highly recommend our members follow the Xbox LIVE Account Security guidance provided at www.xbox.com/security.

Game, set, and match: Microsoft.

And of course, this isn’t the first time this sort of thing’s happened. Why aren’t parents more skeptical about allowing their credit card information to be entered?

Do you let your children use a fully-functional Xbox Live account or limit them to a children’s account? Let us know in the comments!