Mum Slams Popular Game Roblox After Daughter Racks Up £300 Bill On Her Phone
A mum has criticised a popular game aimed at children after being shocked to receive a huge £300 bill, having let her eight-year-old daughter play it during lockdown.
Single mum Lisa Hickman had allowed her daughter Willow to play Roblox on her phone as a treat for doing well with her homework, while also being cooped up due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But Lisa, 28, was shocked when her bill came in six weeks later, realising she'd been charged £301.64.
She later confirmed with phone provider 3 Mobile that the bill was for items purchased by Willow while playing games on Roblox, and has had to pay £124.48 in June before paying the rest this month.
Lisa, a part-time school lunchtime supervisor who can't return to work until her school reopens, said: "It's outrageous as I would never have allowed Willow to play on it if I hadn't thought it was free. I feel like I've been tricked.
"There's nothing that makes it clear that you could end up paying for your child to play on it or that they could make purchases inside the games.
"I didn't have to give my credit card details and so why would I ever think that I would be charged on my phone bill? It's disgraceful and must be happening to hundreds of other unsuspecting parents too."
Lisa, who usually pays just £25 a month for her phone contract, said she allowed Willow to play the game in May, continuing: "She saw it advertised and it looked really creative, and she said: 'Can I play it, Mummy?'.
"I checked that it looked safe and because she's been working so hard with her work during lockdown I said she could.
"She would play two or three times a day. I didn't think anything was wrong until my phone bill came in six weeks later and I saw it was huge. I queried it straight away and my mobile company said it was from purchasing made in Roblox.
"I asked Willow if she had bought anything while playing it and she insists that she hasn't so it doesn't make any sense.
"Obviously that is a lot of money to me. I work part time, and can't work at the moment as the school is closed so I'm on universal credit as a single mum.
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"I will have to cut right back and Willow won't be getting any treats, toys or other games for a long time as I pay back the money."
The mum from Peterchurch, Herefordshire, discovered the games platform was on her Google Play - which provides films, books and games and allows purchases - but a refund has been refused.
"It looked like a normal game but it was costing me a fortune and I had no idea," she said
"I'd like to warn others about this game - and possibly others - that children could be downloading on their parents' accounts without them realising how much it is costing.
"I found out and was shocked by the amount but I'm grateful I discovered to so quickly otherwise it could have run into thousands of pounds. I can't punish Willow because she's just as innocent as I am. She didn't know it cost money.
"But she's the one who will be suffering now as I don't have any money to treat her going forward."
Roblox has now promised to make a full refund to Lisa, with an investigation discovering Willow had been using an in-app currency called Robux to buy things for her game avatars - having no idea of the cost in real life.
A Roblox spokesperson said: "We strive to prevent unauthorized purchases and work directly with parents to provide appropriate refunds whenever possible, as we did in this case as soon as we had the necessary information to do so. Parents who notice unauthorized charges should contact our Customer Service following our instructions.
"We also encourage parents to review their payment settings on third-party services, such as Google Play, as they typically have an option to require a password for each purchase made and/or to prevent any information from being saved in browser settings that could allow them to be reused."
A spokesman for Google added: "We want Google Play to offer a family-friendly experience so we've developed tools to help parents prevent accidental or unwanted purchases.
"If you're a parent, we suggest setting up Family Link. This gives you the ability to set various types of permissions per person in the family. For example, you can use password protection so that a password needs to be entered each time a purchase is made, including for in-app purchases billed by Google Play, like buying coins in games."
Featured Image Credit: Triangle News