Amazon taking heat over ‘app traps’

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Online marketplace Amazon is defending itself against allegations that it allowed kids to spend their parents' money on extra content for apps -- sometimes totaling hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

1 Comment

  • Anonymous

    A little over two years ago my daughter was playing an app called ‘Zombie Farm’. When she ran out of the free in game currency she tapped the button that asked if she would like to get more. She chose the ‘box of gems’ option that was 100$, I found out later when i tried to make a purchase at a retail store with the debit card that was associated with my google play account and the cashier said I had insufficiant funds. Who’s fault was it? Google Play? my wonderful daughter? No it was MY fault. I pay attention to what my daughter is doing on our devices pretty closely, but that one button press slipped by me. So that day I activated the PASSWORD OPTION that is available on all devices that require a code to authorize any payment for any purchase on our devices, I also got a SEPERATE prepaid debit card to attach to our google play accounts that I can put money on if my daughter wants to buy from the play store. Lastly I talked with my daughter (who was 7 at the time and just learning about money in school) and explained that any button that has a $ sign on it is charging real money and that its not just simply giving her more coins, gold, gems or whatever, and if she ever runs into one of those buttons and she wants it she has to ask me first (even though now she would have to enter a code only I know) so I can see what she wants to purchase. All that being said, by the time i found out about it, it had been a couple of days and she only got through a third of the currency she bought, during those days when I was watching her playing the game I was only looking at what she was planting (it’s a zombie farm, you see) and didnt think to question how she had managed to save the huge amount of ingame currency she had in her inventory. At the risk of sounding judgemental, that mother in your story really wasnt paying attention to what her 9 year old (who should know what a $ sign means) was doing on her device. If the currency in my daughters game had gotten refilled again or kept getting refilled i would have questioned it, thats how the app developers make their money. For that mothers bill to get to 900$ it would require multiple purchases in multiple game playing sessions and should have given her plenty of opportunities to notice something wasnt right and intervine. IT IS NOT the companys fault or trap (app trap seems to be something alarmists would say , which, I thought by your commercials you are trying not to be) they clearly state pricing in the purchase screen. Also ‘Zombie Farm’ is a fun and social game, for that girl to spend 900$ on a game with such a superficial pretense is probably indicative of many more high price purchases that mother will be paying for in the next decade. And she cant be crying “make-up trap” or “clothing trap” or blaming ‘MAC’ or ‘Hot Topic’ if her daughter purchases their product behind her back or if she simply isnt paying attention to what her daughter is doing. She should be appreciative that the company refunded anything at all, and accept that it was ultimately her responsibility to be paying attention to what her daughter was doing on her device instead of letting the device babysit her daughter. Unless of course she wants to show her daughter that you blame someone else when you get caught neglecting your responsibilities.

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