Child shopping online with a cell phone
Financial Literacy

When Children Buy Online

The danger of unwanted purchases on the internet is everywhere. Whether in online shops or app stores – thanks to saved logins and the stored credit card, one click is often all it takes to complete a purchase. Parents often only notice the consequences when the credit card bill arrives. Here are some tips for childproof online shopping.

Online shops, app stores, email accounts, social media accounts – with the multitude of user accounts, it is often practical to save the respective login data. What helps parents can also give children the opportunity for unnoticed and unwanted account use. If the banking details are also stored, children can even go shopping with the family money. Caution is especially required with credit cards. Often, completing the transaction does not even require entering the PIN. The result: parents only notice the unwanted costs weeks later on the credit card statement.

More than 500 Francs for Virtual Berries

The Hochreuter family from Wittnau has experienced how quickly a harmless children's game can cost over 500 francs. The two children received a new tablet for Christmas and were each allowed to choose one app. They each selected a game. To ensure that nothing went wrong, the father even downloaded and installed the apps himself.

The big surprise came the next day: the credit card was charged with 567 francs. "We initially had no idea where this amount came from," explains the family. It soon became clear that the children had, completely unintentionally and without entering a password in the game, purchased virtual berries for real money. "The app was built in such a way that our children did not even realize that they were spending real money."

The Hochreuter family asked the consumer agency K-Tipp for help and ended up paying nothing. They successfully appealed the credit card charge and were reimbursed the money.

The app was built in such a way that our children did not even realize that they were spending real money.

André Hochreuter, father

How to Get Your Money Back

The case of the Hochreuter family shows how quickly an unintended online purchase can happen. Nevertheless, there are ways of getting the money back.

  • Apple clients can, via the iTunes account, revoke an app or an in-app purchase within 14 days after receipt of the invoice. Select "Report problem" and "I would like to cancel this purchase."
  • For apps on Android, there is currently only a two-hour return period. Select "My account" and "Reimburse."
  • For online purchases, in contrast to the EU, there is no right of cancellation in Switzerland. However, check the general terms and conditions. The online retailer may have nonetheless granted a right of cancellation.
Tip: To avoid legal disputes in the first place, actively show your child the risks of online purchases. Come to an agreement together. For instance, consider a monthly allowance from which your children can purchase apps or other online products.