Saturday, November 20, 2010

The SCAM that is Smurf's Village!

Okay, so this isn't really related to Surrogacy but I'm so shocked, I feel as if I have to warn as many parents as I know (or have access to).

Let me give you a little history . . . even though I have only purchased and used APPLE (MAC) computers since 1985, I do not own an iPhone yet. Once they make a deal with Verizon, I'm sure I'll be in line, but for now I refuse to pay money for a phone and then have to pay more money to use it with my provider. In September of this year, I received an iPad as a gift. Something to help me "make it through" the boredom that is Doctor Ordered Bed Rest. I like the iPad. It is fun and has lots of games for myself and my children too. Ruby loves the math flash cards, Preston enjoys Angry Birds and Sawyer loves Checkers. All these games were Free, as was Smurf's Village.

So . . . . . I found out last night while looking at my online bank statement that almost $70 was charged to my account from iTunes. Upon investigation, I discovered my 4 year old (who has played various games for months with no issues) had purchased smurfberries while playing the "FREE" game. Specifically, he purchased 1 bushel for $11.99 and 11 buckets at $4.99 each. Luckily he didn't click the most expensive option, Wheelbarrow for $59.99, because if he did, with the amount of times he clicked it, my total would've been over $700!!

Since this has happened, I have now learned that you can change the settings on your iPad or iPhone to deny In Ap Purchases. I did so immediately! Another thing that someone shared with me is that the iOS will keep you logged on for 15 minutes after you download the app. Additional purchases won’t require a re-entry of the password during this 15 minute interval . . . so you may want to not let your kids use your device until 30 minutes past an authorized purchase. I have also emailed iTunes to try to get my money back. I consider it an unauthorized purchase. Every time I've ever made a purchase, I have to put in my password. I have never made an IN AP Purchase, didn't even know it existed, so I assumed my kids didn't have access. I WAS WRONG.

Last night, I started googling about this very thing and have found I am far from alone! I have found others on Twitter complaining about their kids purchasing Smurf Berries too! I even stumbled upon a father who complained to the media because his son did the same thing. Since, there are other parents out there in the same boat, I've decided to start a Facebook Group, "I got SMURFED by Capcom!" It's a group for Parents who found out (the hard way) they need to change setting to "NO IN AP PURCHASES" on their iPads and iPhones because they were shocked to learn their children were making unauthorized purchases on their Apple products.

I am really hoping that Apple had no clue, because it seems very obvious to me that this is a BIG SMURFIN' SCAM! If it was an oversite, I hope they fix it quickly. When I read how Smurf's Village has outsold Angry Birds, I believe it . . . perhaps Capcom, the company that created the game, knows EXACTLY what they are doing!

BEWARE! Don't get Smurfed like me!


Heard back from Apple and I will be refunded . . . "Please note that this is a one-time exception, as the App Store Terms and Conditions state that all sales are final." I hope APPLE speaks with Capcom about this or their iTunes Customer Service is going to be working a lot of overtime on this issue.


Story got picked up by the Associated Press . . . since there have been tons of newspapers/websites/blogs picking it up . . . Here's a link to one of the stories- Bushels of "Smurfberries" cost parents buckets of cash

I also did a quick interview with KGO Radio in San Francisco and a quick blurb on the local news station (below)


Madgew said...

This happened to me on facebook for the IQ quiz which I didn't take. They refunded my money. There is something that should happen when a child who is under legal age can just press without controls even if it is not free. I agree that Itunes should give you all the money back as your son is under 18 and can't enter a legal contract.

Heidi said...

What the smurf?!?! Sorry, I couldn't resist saying that. =)

Kelly & Her Uterus said...

@Heidi- I know, through this post the F-word became smurf! LOL

notminethistime said...

Thanks for the post! I have an ipod touch that my kids LOVE to play with. I had no idea they could make purchases on FREE apps either. I just changed my settings with the help of your link :)

Kristen said...

Whoa! Good to know, thanks! No idea how to change the settings but I'll sure as smurf find out. Glad you got a refund. Oh yeah, awesome blog, hope ya don't mind me following along :)

Anonymous said...

Yes i have been caught out aswell. I deleted the smurf app immediately and they can stick the bushel of smurfberries up their smurf****. £6.99 scandalous!

Anonymous said...

Jeez. I wish I had read this first. I'll post a review on the App and copy this blog if you don't mind!
My 4 yrs old just did this in front of me... By the time I realized it was actual Dollars and not in-game money she had already 'bought' $30 worth of smurfberries.

Roy said...

YUP, Happened to my iPhone last night.
Downloaded the cool FREE "Smurf's village" and left the iPhone to my 8 year old daughter. Within the next "open iTunes" 15 minutes, my credit card has been charged for US$ 100.00 in SMURFBERRIES!!!

Thanks to Apple which alows this scam inside "free" appications...

Roy in Norway

Kristin said...

I love your post, thank you for noticing my tweet so I could see it! I just finally wrote my story and included a link to some instructions for turning off the in-app was harder to figure out than I expected!

This might be a funny topic to make a facebook group about...!

Happy Conscious Purchasing to all and to all a good night...(lol)

Anonymous said...

Next time, advice: don't keep your credit card details automatically stored in your AppleID/ITunes.

Anonymous said...

Why are you letting your children play games that you have not fully inspected first? It would have taken about two minutes to preview the game and notice this feature. How clueless can you be? You need to do your job as parents and stop blaming everyone else for your carelessness.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kelly,
I ve read your article and I totally agree with you, apart from this dark side of Smurfs village game, it does have some good side.
I would appreciate if you can add a link of this article in your website therefore your readers can see a full image about Smurfs village game.

Thanks for your help in advance Kelly and keep up the good work :)