Parents' Lament: App Is Free, but Smurfberries Are Pricey

Kids are unknowingly racking up big bills

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 11, 2010 2:20 PM CST

(Newser) – Geez, Papa Smurf. The "Smurfs' Village" Apple app is a free download, but it's making big bucks for creator Capcom Entertainment. How so? It's those "in-app purchases" that allow players to buy smurfberries or whatever for real money. Which is all well and good, except that AP reports lots of parents are complaining that their young kids are blissfully, and unknowingly, racking up big bills on mom's credit card with the click of a button.

The Smurf game is not the only one to register such complaints, and both Apple and game-makers say safeguards are in place to prevent such things. Kids, however, manage to slip through loopholes such as a 15-minute window in which no password is needed to make a purchase. And any warnings that pop up mean little to players who don't quite understand money. A wheelbarrow full of smurfberries, incidentally, runs $59.99.

In this photo taken Dec. 7, 2010, a young boy has the Smurf's Village on an iPad.
In this photo taken Dec. 7, 2010, a young boy has the "Smurf's Village" on an iPad.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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