When left to their own devices, kids can do the darndest things — for example, accidentally break one-of-a-kind works of art or order $100 worth of McDonald's cheeseburgers. For one 6-year-old in Michigan, a few minutes with a smartphone resulted in 10 times the financial damage — and it was all for the chili fries.
On Jan. 26, Chesterfield Township, Michigan father-of-two Keith Stonehouse was tending to his 6-year-old, Mason, when the little boy managed to go on a Grubhub shopping spree to the whopping tune of $1,000.
“It was father and son time and we were watching TV, and Mason says, ‘Dad, can I use your phone?’” Stonehouse tells TODAY.com, adding that Mason usually uses it to play an educational app. “So I gave my phone and I said, ‘You have 30 minutes.’”
Stonehouse says Mason trotted down to their finished basement to play with the phone and after 30 minutes was up, he retrieved his son — and his phone — for bedtime.
“A 6-year-old going to bed is not normally an easy thing but he was surprisingly really good,” Stonehouse says. “There was no fight, no ‘I’m hungry’ or making up stuff to stay up. He just went to bed, and I was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing. I wish Mom was here to witness this.’ And all of a sudden I hear the doorbell.”
Stonehouse says that he saw a woman leave a large bag on the porch, which he assumed was just items for a wedding cake. His wife runs a cake-baking business, and Stonehouse says clients sometimes drop off cake toppers and other items.
“But then, the doorbell rings again and the lights come through the front window, and then it happens again and again and again. I am completely spooked,” Stonehouse says, adding that there are huge amounts of food coming with each delivery.
“It’s five orders of 20-piece jumbo shrimp, a bunch of chicken sandwiches, chili cheese fries and ice cream and grape leaves and rice and more sandwiches, and I’m like, ‘What is going on?’” Stonehouse says. “I’m piling it all up and I couldn’t figure it out.”
“I hadn’t looked at my phone in a long time after I grabbed it from him before bed,” Stonehouse says. “I look and it’s a continuous scroll of GrubHub reminders and alerts. ‘Your food has been ordered,' 'Your food’s being made,’ ‘Your food is coming,’ ‘Your food is delivered.’”
Stonehouse then saw a fraud alert from his bank: $439 declined from Happy’s Pizza. Still, another charge for $183 worth of pizzeria goodies managed to make it through. He says he called the shop in an attempt to cancel the orders, but by that time, it was too late.
“There’s nothing you can do. So I just had to take it and that was that,” he says.
After Stonehouse stored the multiple orders of food into various fridges and freezers his wife has in the house for her bakery business, he had a talk with his son, the likely culprit who last had his phone.
“I go up and I’m yelling at him, asking, ‘Why did you do this?’ and he’s looking at me with just his eyes above his blanket,” Stonehouse says, admitting that while he was truly upset, there was one part that made him laugh. “Mason stops me mid-sentence and puts his hand out and says, ‘Dad, stop. When are the pepperoni pizzas coming?’”
All in all, Stonehouse says Mason managed to charge over $1,000 in food orders. The rambunctious tyke managed to successfully complete multiple orders from Shawarma Yes! Bar & Grill, Leo’s Coney Island and other restaurants.
Thankfully for Stonehouse, Grubhub feels the pain in his pocket.
“We reached out to Keith Stonehouse once we heard about the unexpected spending spree his son went on,” a Grubhub spokesperson tells TODAY.com. “We wanted to make things better for him and his family, so have offered to send him $1,000 worth of Grubhub gift cards.”
As for whether Mason has been disciplined for his Grubhub spending spree, Stonehouse says he and his wife had a long talk with Mason about the value of money. They both ended up taking a bit from Mason’s piggy bank for each restaurant transgression.
“I think it’s sunk in a little bit. Obviously he’s six. We’re not actually going to keep it, and we’re going to give it to him later down the road,” says Stonehouse.
“Mason just said something to me today that was kind of funny. He said, ‘Well I got my dad ice cream because I know he loves ice cream and I know he has ice cream every night,'" Stonehouse says with a laugh. "I’m like, ‘Oh, you little ... You’re so sweet.’”