A woman in the U.K. is blaming Microsoft for the fact that her 11-year-old son rang up a $1700 bill on her debit card over a six-month stretch on Xbox Live.
11-year-old Brendan Jordan knows his times tables but he's still apparently a bit iffy on the concept of money. Let loose on Xbox Live, the youngster went on a spending spree that ultimately landed a bill of £1082 ($1739) on his mother's debit card. But his mother, Dawn, doesn't blame her son for the hefty charges. She blames Microsoft.
"When I put my card details in 18 months ago I thought it was just for his membership to play online with his friends," she said. "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."
"I haven't punished him because he feels bad enough and I know he won't do it again," she added. "It is ridiculous to allow someone of his age to make payments without any checks being done."
She claimed the youngster started to cry when she explained to him how much money he'd blown through, after which he unplugged his Xbox and said he didn't want it anymore. She also said she wants her experience to serve as a warning to other parents.
"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," she added. "It is impossible to monitor everything your children do. These companies should take some responsibility. They take advantage of vulnerable people."
Ooh, close but not quite. It's true that the average 11-year-old has about as much going on upstairs as an untrained springer spaniel, and it is most definitely unreasonable to expect them to behave responsibly when they're left unsupervised with an online game console and a debit card. But that's not Microsoft's fault, nor is it Microsoft's responsibility to keep track of what the kids are doing when parents can't be bothered, or, for that matter, to keep an eye on the household finances and where all the money is going.
"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," a company rep told the Daily Mail. "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."
Sadly, nobody has figured out yet how to make parents automatically default to "pay attention to what your kids are doing."