Although I’m not a parent, I know my friends have been through mobile phone wars with their kids- some of it ongoing. The girl next door did $450 worth of text messages in a week when she was first given her phone for scheduling car pick-up from school. It was the usual story of kids putting the phone on “Silent” and SMS-ing each other in class. Everyone has similar stories- eventually parents find a solution that works, although some not before having to pay an enormous bill! It’s just disgraceful it can occur- we need some responsible set-up rules for phone companies with teen clients.
OK- so that’s all old news now, but the TV sprung a new one on me this morning! Apparently there are several iPhone/iPad game apps that are free or very cheap (like 99 cents), but within the game the players can buy extra stuff that helps them go faster or give them more privileges etc. Although most [trusting, naive] parents would think the same way the presenter did- that the internal transactions of the game would be with “Play Money” as they are in Facebook Games like “Cafe World” etc., IN FACT these things are paid for in REAL MONEY through the online iTunes account- the kids have the password so they can use the phone!
The presenter on the show was in shock when this was revealed..”You mean when my kids play that penguin game and buy scarves to keep their penguins warm, they are using my credit card??”. Yep said the tame geek. “But I thought they were only Penguin Dollars”, surely they’re not real??”- Have a look at your credit card statement was the reply…
This sounded like a real shocker to me, so we had a look on Spotrick’s iPhone, finding the “Smurf Village” game which they had also mentioned- sure enough, when you bought strawberries or whatever for the little Smurfs and Smurfettes, the money was the genuine article!! There was a small statement near where the app. could be downloaded for free- but what parent has ever seen it? Kid yells from the bedroom- “Mum…can I download this free Smurf’s game to play on the iPad?”- “You’re sure it’s free?”- “Yeah Mum-look”… “OK!“. $600 credit card bill later…OMG!!!!! *&77%%$#$
Not a good look. I think this is a pretty sneaky practice and BAD PUBLICITY for iPhone. Who’s betting the apps or the real money parts are pulled back shortly?