MIAMI (CBS4) – Kids love playing video games but some parents believe their children are being targeted by companies using something called predatory pricing.
In the Smith family household, everyone has an iPod Touch even 6-year old Eileen who rang up massive bills playing games
What happened to the Smith family is a problem sweeping the nation, children allegedly being preyed upon through enticing yet expensive pop up applications.
Eileen was playing a game called Tap Zoo which allows players to buy animals to build a bigger zoo. She didn’t understand the pop-ups offering her help came with a price.
“I was going to like build some, make some, animals. I didn’t know that it was real money,” she said.
In one day she spent hundreds of dollars on sea turtles, crocodiles and tigers.
The Smith’s received a $420 bill all from Eileen clicking on a pop up box.
Applications like these have been wreaking havoc in families because of a supposed glitch. Only her parents had the pass code to authorize purchases, but what they didn’t know was that the code stays valid and doesn’t automatically log out for 15 minutes.
“I am irritated that I got taken advantage of,when we thought we’re doing what we should do by not letting her have access to the pass codes,” said Eileen’s mother Katie.
“I think it’s a predatory means to take advantage of an unassuming child whose playing a simple game,” said Matt Smith, Eileen’s father.
Other games including Smurf Village have also started issuing warnings.
Tap Zoo starts selling things for $.99 then in Eileen’s case some items began popping up for $99.
So did the Smith’s think that was suspicious?
“Suspicious, no I think it was purposeful. The fact that it’s a $99 charge that they are trying to sneak through, I mean who in their right mind would, even an adult, would not allow a $99 purchase for a bucket a of stars,” said Smith.
Eileen said she learned a big lesson.
Pocket Gems, the company that makes Tap Zoo, did not respond to our inquiry.
However, they issued a statement saying they’ve approached Apple, maker of the iPod touch, with the hope that it can work to improve the pass code mechanism. Apple did not respond to calls from CBS on this matter.