Sure, $100 for F’ing Smurfberries, sounds fair Apple, thanks

by jeffhilimire on April 19, 2011

Ah, customer service. Ain’t it the best?

So it turns out the Smurf Village iPad app was built with the basic premise that parents will download it so their kids could play it and then, when their parents aren’t looking, they will sell virtual goods for ridiculous amounts of money within the app and the kids will buy them because they don’t yet understand the concept of money. I know this to be the case because they didn’t require my son to put in a password to buy them (he doesn’t know my iTunes password).

How else could you explain that my otherwise very smart six year old bought a wagon of Smurfberries FOR A HUNDRED DOLLARS. A hundred real dollars. Like the kind of dollars that show up on your American Express bill.

Now, I don’t claim to be a financial expert in Smurf economics, but I have to think that if someone told Papa Smurf that he could buy a wagon of Smurfberries for a hundred dollars, he’d send them straight to Gargamel’s cat.

All jokes aside, I’m really not happy about this. And Apple is no help. I filled out their complaint form and got this back:

—————-

Your request for a refund for “WAGON OF SMURFBERRIES” was carefully considered; however, according to the iTunes Store Terms of Sale, all purchases made on the iTunes Store are final. This policy matches Apple’s refund policies and provides protection for copyrighted materials.

You can review the iTunes Store Terms of Sale for more information:

http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/sales.html

I checked your account and it looks like the purchase “WAGON OF SMURFBERRIES” was purchased from within the application “Smurfs’ Village” on your iPad. The date of purchase was 02/14/2011. This is called an “in-app purchase”.

—————-

Seriously Apple, you should take better care of your customers in situations like this. Clearly this is a company taking advantage of people, it doesn’t take a reading of your terms of sale to recognize that.

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  • http://twitter.com/dangriffey Dan Griffey

    I found out the hard way but you can lock in-app and other store purchases in the iPad settings.

  • http://welcometojmart.com/ Josh Martin

    Just think, it could’ve been worse – like $1,400 worth of Smurfberries that this 8-year old girl racked up: http://consumerist.com/2011/02/8-year-old-girl-racks-up-1400-bill-playing-smurfs-village-ipad-game.html

  • http://cjsparno.com cjsparno

    I find it interesting that your post only blames Apple (who did not create the app and only got $30 of the $100 in “smurfberries”). You should also place some of the blame on the developer who created this money pit. I bet there was not a big disclosure banner that appeared on screen saying “Warning, in order to play this game, there will be frequent charges for in-app purchases, please ask a parent’s permission before continuing”. There are a lot of sneaky apps that are starting this practice, for example camera apps that start out as free and then require the purchase of film and lenses to use them (and the film runs out like real film – really? Come on.). While I think Apple should have sided with the consumer (you) in this case, I think this type of app is becoming the new spamware of the App world and is getting out of hand. Apple’s bigger mis-step is allowing this type of greed to run rampant in the app store.

  • Thomas L. Strickland

    Oh, damn …

    Actually, I’d take this up with Capcom Mobile directly. Apple’s iTunes Store is the medium, but Smurf Village is Capcom’s monster to tame and control. You might not get a refund, but you can certainly raise a reasonable amount of hell about it.

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    It’s an interesting point, but I think I hold Apple responsible because they are the gateway for these applications and we as users put our trust in them to make sure we aren’t getting scammed like this. Otherwise they might as well have an app store like Android where it’s the wild west and you expect to be scammed once in a while.

    That said, you’re 100% right, it’s not Apple’s fault, though I was hoping they’d stick up for me here.

  • http://cjsparno.com cjsparno

    Jeff, I agree with you. Apple should have, in my opinion, sided with you. BTW, are you gonna use all those smurfberries? Wonder if there is an aftermarket, like Gazelle, for the unused portion. Cheers! -Chris

  • http://www.tonykinard.net @TonyKinard

    Actually, if this followed the typical Apple paradigm, just as soon you paid off the $100 for your “Wagon of Smurfberries”. Apple would release “Wagon of Smurfberries 2G” with full behavioral marketing fanfare aimed at convincing your son he must buy another round or he is no longer cool. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/markkrugman Mark Krugman

    Last month Apple added parental controls in 4.3 so parents wallets would no longer fall victim to their children’s smurfberry addiction

    http://www.cultofmac.com/responding-to-parents-apple-now-requires-passwords-for-all-in-app-buys/85602

  • http://twitter.com/markkrugman Mark Krugman
  • Pingback: Did I just get $100 for being a blogger? #applefanboyagain

  • mikebravo

    Sign me up for the class action suit.

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