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

(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.

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
Dec 12, 2010 10:25 AM CST
Having you kid spend $60 without your permission is akin to say having them leave their bike out and it getting stolen or breaking a neighbor's window. Kids sometimes make mistakes that cost parents money. The first time you set a clear new rule and the second time you take the item away or don't replace it immediately. As for the way the game is paid for, 'pay for point' TANSTAAFL. If you aren't buying the game outright you should be asking how the developers are getting paid.
Dec 12, 2010 8:49 AM CST
Yay another beautiful example of parental negligence with technology. Sure lets blame the app store and the maker of the app for being malicious when in the end a parent needs to sit down and monitor what the child is doing. Personally in my opinion children should not be on the web, or on an iphone with out supervision, and an iphone for a kid is just absolutely not. Its time for parents to stop being lazy and watch what the kid is doing and stop blaming everyone and anything else for their short comings.
the smart boomer
Dec 11, 2010 9:16 PM CST
This isn't like a brand new issue - if you've ever downloaded any more than 2 or 3 games from the 'app store', you'll notice that virtually every free game is supported by "purchase for points" platforms. Boohoo - I can't teach my kid responsibility, and I was dumb enough to give him access to an account with my credit card information linked to it. Seriously, that's ignorance on the parents part. They deserve the high bill.