Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Smurfberries For Sale

How much trouble could a three year old get into with a Smurf game on the iPad?

It turns out, plenty.

We became the proud owners of two bushels and a wagonful of smurfberries.  All of which became ours at the price of $127.17. 

To get into iTunes or the App Store on our iPad, we must put in our password.

My husband loves to download games onto our iPad.  "Mega Jump", "Angry Birds", and several others have provided endless hours of pleasure.

Emily loves to play games to.  Bob downloaded the "Smurfs' Village" game for her to play.  Even though she can't read she had fun figuring out what she was supposed to do and moving things around on the screen and for a three year old she did pretty good.  She was mesmerized watching the smurfs move around on the screen.

...And then my husband walked away from the kitchen table while Emily played.  My husband mistakenly thought that if a game asked you to buy something within the game, it would ask for a password. 

Nope, that is not how it works.

And that my friends, is how we became the proud owners of so many smurfberries. With two clicks our daughter purchased a wagon of smurfberries at $99.99 and with a few more clicks two bushels at $9.99 a piece. 

I had never came across that before and never even knew you could buy things with real money inside any of the games. I came across an iTunes reciept in my email Inbox on Sunday and figured my husband purchased something.  I wasn't expecting a $127.17 (which included tax) worth of something.  I immediately called him on the phone and asked him about the charges.  He immediately fingered Emily as the culprit even though I think we were partly the culprits as well.

I emailed iTunes and explained what had happened.  Their website was not reassuring saying purchases were non-refundable.  Then I waited impatiently for a response.

Did I mention I am not patient?

I then went out and googled the "Smurfs' Village" app and kids.  I read reviews on what a great game it was for kids (not from where this mom is sitting).

Then I found this article on "Smurfs' Village" in particular and the loophole among "kid-friendly" game apps. Apparently, the games will ask for a password only if you haven't entered your password for any reason on your iPhone or iPad in the last fifteen minutes (and some parents claim it won't even ask after the fifteen minutes are up).

Why would anyone buy a $100 wagon of smurfberries to begin with?

Luckily, iTunes removed the charges.

We have also changed our settings on the iPad to disable in-app purchases. Here's how:
1. Tap Settings.
2. Tap General.
3. Tap Restrictions.
4. Turn In-App Purchases off.

This was our wake-up call about how easily kids can get into trouble on the iPad or any device for that matter even when you think something is "safe".

And now I can laugh about it.

In fact, it does make for a funny story and my husband even joked I should print out the iTunes reciept they had sent me for her scrapbook...

...and when she wants her first smartphone or iPad I will bring up this story as a warning to her.  May that not be for a very, very long time.


Mayra said...

wow!!! what a bill.. must be some lovely smurfberries. =)

Now seriously; this can happen to anyany kiddo and technically we are the culprits for letting them play on our fun-filled devices.But who an stay away from games??

Itunes is strict about no refunds as I have already experienced this...and it was not a child's app. lol

Good thing you get to keep those smurfberries.

Stephanie Faris said...

If I disable in-app purchases, will it never let me purchase anything unless I go back and enable it again?

blueviolet said...

I'm sure they made it that easy on purpose, but I'm glad they removed the charge. I'm thinking there are a lot of parents out there with smurfberries galore now!

Joy@TPMG said...

@Stephanie-You'll have to go back in to enable it to purchase something. In the game when you click on the Smurfberry Shop now our screen just has a message saying the feature has been disabled.

Blueviolet-that is one of the top complaints about the game. Many parents are claiming that the game companies are taking advantage of children but the companies claim they are abiding by all rules, etc. in place by Apple for the device.

Liz said...

You are kidding! That's AWFUL that game is set up like that!

Thank goodness the charges were removed!

I just stumbled this post for you. :)

Buckeroomama said...

I'm glad they reversed the charges. OVer $100 worth of smurfberries? Really!

Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) said...

Oh my gosh! I can't believe she did that! Good thing they removed the charges...wow.

Jenn Erickson said...

Thank you! You're doing a great service to parents by letting us know about this! It's terrible that the Smurfs game takes advantage of that loophole, and I'm glad that iTunes gave you a refund. It was definitely the right thing to do. Thank you for the instructions in disabling in-app purchases! Jenn/Rook No. 17

Lourie said...

Wow! Good that they refunded the money. I want to go and check my iPod Touch now, and see if it has the same way to change the settings.

Sarah at The Stroller Ballet said...

Oh my!! Definitely something to laugh about, though! I'm glad they refunded the money. By the way - my husband looooves angry birds. He's actually playing it right now!

Emmy said...

No way!! I totally thought you had to enter password for in-app purchases too! Definitely not going to get the smurf game. I hope you left them negative feedback, people need to know! And yes $100?? They are seriously just trying to milk that loop hole and hope they can get away with it. I am tempted to go get the app just so I can leave negative feedback then delete it!

Mamarazzi said...

wow. good thing they reversed the charges. that is insane though...really bananas.

Joy@TPMG said...

Actually, there was just an article online at The Washington Post which I just read this morning where a parent got a $1400 bill from an in-app purchase (in Smurfs' Village) her child made from a game and today a congressman pledged to contact the FTC to fight this loophole. If I had got that bill I really would have had a heart attack. There though I think the child had the parent's password.

My biggest complaint is that games shouldn't say 4 and up. I didn't realize that Apple gets 30% of all the sales so there is no reason for them to close the loophole which allows for the 15 minute window where it won't ask for a pw.

Jacki said...

Wow that just sucks that they make it so easy for kids to charge up such a bill. Thanks for the heads up.

April said...

Haha too funny, but I am glad they took off the charges or else it wouldn't be funny. That's so evil. You know they do that so stuff like this will happen!

YuL hm said...

huhu lucky you

I couldn't imagine what you're gonna do if they didn't cancelled the purchase

SurfBerries for over 100 bucks? It must be so yummy LOL

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