I recently purchased a new toy and learned a valuable lesson. In our home, we love all things “Apple”–both McIntosh and Macintosh. So when I finally spent some Christmas money on an iPod Touch, I thought I’d let each of the kids download a free “kid friendly” app, and I’d share the joy. On one particular occasion soon after my purchase, I was needing to get something “important” done on my computer, so I let my daughter use my new toy and play the game that I had just downloaded for her. The next morning I awoke to a message from my husband asking “Did you just spend $55 on iTunes last night?” After investigating, I learned that apparently my sweet, innocent daughter had, unknowingly, bought $55 worth of gems in this “sweet, innocent” game. A game that she and I had thought was just like Webkinz where you just buy things with pretend money. There was nothing pretend about our bill, however, and I was sick to my stomach that not only had we unknowingly made this mistake, but I made a bigger mistake by passing off my electronic toy to my child while I probably should have been engaging with her face to face that evening and been a little more intentional in my parenting.
It was an honest mistake, I believe, but she and I felt badly about it. And I really had little hope that we would get our money back from iTunes. Their policy is no refunds. All sales final. I would just have to view this as my costly parenting mistake, I convinced myself. Kind of like getting a speeding ticket after driving recklessly, this would be what I would have to pay for my reckless parenting. Or so I thought.
After unsuccessfully contacting the company that produced the app (they referred me back to iTunes), and searching in vain for customer service information on the Apple website (iTunes doesn’t make that too easy, either), I found an email address, sent off a message about our unfortunate mistake, but had little hope that a real person would actually read it, much less do anything to correct it.
Low and behold, what would you know, but the next day, which happened to be a Sunday of all days, I received a surprising email from an iTunes customer service representative–and now my new friend–named Naieanne. After introducing herself to me (“Nice to meet you, too, Naieanne!”), she told me that she understood our purchase was accidental and unintentional. She would be refunding our account. She was even kind enough to teach me how to restrict such “in-app” purchases in the future. Imagine that?!
My faith in internet customer service was restored! My faith in iTunes was restored! My faith in all things “Apple” was restored! And I will never forget what could have been a very costly lesson in parenting. The next time I think to pass off my electronic toys to my children, I will remember what I am trading, what the real cost is, and what is more important–meaningful interaction with my children and opportunities to learn, grow, and discover the truly precious gems in life.