Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kids + iPhones could equal toxic smurfberries

The kids have access to our iPhones and playing them is a treat and it's something they look forward to.  We have numerous games, some that are just fun and have very little redeeming value, others are educational games that reinforce all the new skills the kids are learning in school and at home. 

I often will download a new game and as it's loading I hand the phone back to whomever it is that asked me for a new game.  Then I read this tonight:

NEW YORK — Apple is facing a lawsuit from a Pennsylvania man whose 9-year-old daughter racked up $200 in charges buying "Zombie Toxin" and other game items on her iPod.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status, saying Garen Meguerian of Phoenixville is among many people with bill shock after children went on buying sprees in iPhone, iPad and iPod games. These games are typically free to download, but players can buy items that speed up the game.

An Associated Press story in December highlighted the issue. In many cases, it appeared that children bought items such as "Smurfberries" from "Smurfs' Village" without knowing they were spending real money. ITunes didn't ask for a password for in-game purchases if it had been entered within the previous 15 minutes for any reason. This meant that parents could download a free app, hand over their devices to their kids, and later find big charges on their iTunes accounts.

Apple reversed the charges of complaining customers. It also tightened its password policy with a software update in March. Entering the password outside an app no longer triggers a password-free period for in-app purchases, which now have a separate 15-minute timer.

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit was filed last week in federal court in San Francisco. CNET reported on it earlier.

"Tap Zoo," a kid-oriented game that's free to download but charges for items, was the top-grossing app in the App Store on Tuesday.

Can you imagine a $200 iTunes bill for Zombie Toxin?  I got to thinking, I wonder if the kids have racked up any charges that I don't know about yet?  I guess we'll see in the next few weeks.  All I can hope is that I'm home to hear Chris when he gets a bill that says, Balance Due:  $176.99,  items purchased: Smurfberries. 


1 comment:

  1. DUDE - we love the Smurf game here.

    Just keep your iTunes account password protected and they can't download anything. Even my brats who often try to figure out my passwords haven't been brave enough to attempt to crack the iTunes account.


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