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Victory! Microsoft gives full refund to autistic boy who made £844 of accidental purchases on Xbox

Nic McBride

Nic McBride
Feb 19, 2018

Microsoft has u-turned and agreed to refund £844 to the family of an autistic boy who accidentally made purchases on Xbox Live.

A Spokesman Said recently highlighted the case of Theo - a 14-year-old boy who has autism and ADHD, as well as dyscalculia and dyspraxia - meaning he struggles with numbers and co-ordination.

He managed to rack up £844.17 on Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty on Xbox Live without his step-mum Marian James realising.


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Marian, from Anglesey in North Wales, had no clue what was going on and said she would have to sell the Xbox just to cover the massive cost.

She said Theo would have been unaware of what he was doing.

She appealed to Microsoft for a refund but it said no.

With nowhere left to turn, Marian came to A Spokesman Said for help.

We took her case to Microsoft and asked them to do the decent thing, and.... THEY DID.

We told Marian and she was over the moon.

"I had a call from the Microsoft team, it seems they eventually decided to reconsider my case.

"I was so grateful that they'd reconsidered and decided to refund me my money! I'm delighted.

"I'm extremely relieved to get my money back.

"Thank you very much for your help!”

Here at A Spokesman Said we're glad Microsoft decided to change its mind and good on them for having a heart. But they get points off for not doing the right thing in the first place.

A Microsoft spokesperson said they did not comment on specific cases.

What they did say was this: “In cases where our investigation confirms that purchases were made by a minor without parental permission, we may decide that a one-time refund is appropriate.”


How to stop children making purchases on Xbox

xbox passkey

As the old saying goes "prevention is always better than cure".

To make sure you or your children don't make purchases by accident, you can set up a passkey.

How to set a passkey on Xbox:

  1. Press the main X button to open the guide.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select All Settings.
  4. Under Account, select Sign-in, security & passkey.
  5. Select Create my passkey.
  6. Enter a six-digit passkey, and then re-enter the passkey to confirm.
  7. Your passkey has now been set. If you ever forget your passkey, you can reset it.

That’s the first step done. Now to apply the passkey to purchases.

Setting the passkey for purchases:

  1. Go into All Settings
  2. Under Account, select Sign-in, security & passkey. If you’ve previously required a password to change settings, you’ll be asked to enter it now.
  3. Under Sign-in, security & passkey, select Change my sign-in & security preferences.
  4. Scroll right and select Customize.
  5. Scroll right and select Ask for my passkey to make purchases.

You can also set the passkey for signing in and changing settings. This is handy to prevent children from changing parental controls on their accounts if you forget to sign out.

You can visit the Xbox support website for more information about Xbox and passkeys.


Want to know what your children are up to on Xbox?

Xbox offers activity reporting, which allows you to monitor what your child is doing online.

You can get weekly email reports of your child’s online activity on Windows 10 and Xbox One devices, or review it on any time.

You’ll see what websites they visit, terms they search for (on search engines like Bing and Google), apps and games they use, and how much screen time they had.

How to set up Activity Reporting:

  1. Go to and sign in with your Microsoft account.
  2. Find your child’s name, then select Activity.
  3. Switch Activity reporting from Off to On.
  4. If you don’t want weekly activity reports emailed to you, but still what to keep track of your child’s online activity, switch Email me weekly reports from On to Off.
  5. For activity reporting to work, check the privacy settings on your child’s device. Select the Start button, then select Settings > Privacy > Feedback & diagnostics and make sure the level is set to Enhanced or Full.


Too easy for children to spend

Marian and Theo are not the first to have had problems with purchases on Xbox or their rivals Playstation.

Vanessa Byrne’s 10-year-old son spent £2,300 on FIFA 2016 on Xbox while she was away in hospital with her dying husband.

Microsoft at first refused to budge – until Vanessa came to A Spokesman Said.

Meanwhile, 14-year-old Joe Dexter and his friends accidentally spent £80 on FIFA on Playstation. When Joe's dad asked Sony to transfer the money – not even refund it – Sony refused.

So, A Spokesman Said stepped in and sorted it out.