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 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.
Wondering what all that is about? Those are the words of Dawn Matthews, a mother who has been in the news recently after receiving a nasty surprise on her credit card bill. £1082.52p worth of nasty surprise as it happens. It turns out that Dawn entered her credit card details into her son’s Xbox 360 in order to buy a membership to allow him to play online with his friends. From that moment six months ago (she’d already bought a years online play for her son previously to that) her son had been unknowingly buying things online through the Xbox using his mothers credit card. Dawn didn’t notice for so long as her laptop was broken and she hadn’t been able to view her credit card statements, so the charges kept piling up a bit at a time. When she eventually showed her son the damage he’d done the boy burst into tears and unplugged the Xbox claiming he didn’t want it anymore. Dawn has since started a Facebook group blaming Microsoft for tricking her son into spending so much money like this.
Here’s the thing – I own an Xbox 360 so I can tell you that Dawn Matthews and her son are full of shit and trying to get away with overspending, and I’ll tell you exactly why I’ve come to that conclusion.
- When you enter your credit card details into your Xbox it tells you clearly that these will be saved and tells you how to remove them. Dawn claims that she didn’t know that her details were being saved when she had to approve that process in order make the first payment with her card. Furthermore, it’s not that hard to remove a card after it has been added top the Xbox 360 (I’ve removed mine as I’m ever so slightly paranoid about leaving it on there). She says it’s ridiculous that checks aren’t made on payments yet her story is that she clicked past one of the checks without even noticing it when it takes up the entire screen.
- Whenever you buy something online using the Xbox 360 you’re taken to a payment screen. This screen shows you how many Microsoft Points (the online currency used by the system) you have left, how much the item costs and then gives you a choice of payment methods. Eleven year old Brendan Matthews would have had to manually choose to pay using his mothers credit card each and every time he bought something. As the majority of the payments were around the £4 mark (the average price for game add-ons), that’s over two hundred and fifty times he chose to pay using his mothers credit card and yet she claims he didn’t know what he was doing because he was “in gaming mode” and “vulnerable”. Even if the boy didn’t know he was using his mother’s credit card details, he knew he was using someones, so he probably thought a glitch was allowing him to buy whatever he wanted on someone else’s account.
- Here’s some pretty damning evidence. When you set up your online profile on an Xbox 360 you have to enter your age. If the age you enter is under 18 then you get given a child’s account. Those accounts have a few small features to help children play online safely, and one of those is that they are unable to buy anything. As Dawn set up the online playing for her son, it seems that she specifically gave him an adult account that is able to buy items (which also opened him up to voice and video communications from strangers by the way). So either Dawn Matthews, the woman who claims “These companies should take some responsibility. They take advantage of vulnerable people.”, doesn’t care about her son as much as she claims or her son is a lying toerag who set that account up saying he was over 18 specifically to get access to things someone his age shouldn’t be exposed to. I’m inclined to believe the latter, but Dawnie obviously doesn’t take the time to read these things and already bypassed the checks in place on one part of the system.
No matter what they say, there’s no way that the boy didn’t notice that he was using a credit card to pay for all the items he bought for his games (more than most people would in five years of gaming, in fact as the average spend is £10 per person per month) and yes, he can be expected to take responsibility at that age and at least understand that money isn’t free whether he’s in gaming mode or not. Dawn may well have been thick enough to miss all the many checks in place that stop these things from happening, but her current stance where she’s blaming Microsoft for not having any checks in place stinks of someone trying to get a settlement to cover their own mistake to me.
I’ll leave you with a final word from Dawn on this which shows her parenting skills to the world.
I haven’t punished him because he feels bad enough and I know he won’t do it again.