If the name Smurfberries conjures up all sorts of '80s memories for you, beware, Mom and Dad. You're getting too complacent! There's a new iPad app that's using the Smurfs and the nostalgic web they weave over your eyes to scam money out of your toddlers' hands.
Or maybe you're just kidding yourself in thinking your 4-year-old is old enough for an iPad. Anyhoo! The Smurfs' Village app -- released last month for iPad, iPhone, etc. -- became the highest grossing pretty quickly, and parents like Kelly Rummelhart say it's because it's a big fat scam. She downloaded the freebie, then let her 4-year-old play with it, and he started buying up wheelbarrows of Smurfberries for $59.99. Ouch!
I feel for these parents. I really do. You turn your back for a moment, and those blasted kids can do anything.
My friend's 6-year-old son accidentally ordered up $80 worth of XBox Live minutes on her husband's XBox. When she called the company, they told her there was nothing they could do about it -- the order had been placed. Even worse, they refused to take her debit card off of the account, so she now has to sit and watch her son like a hawk when he plays Kung Fu Panda because he might accidentally hit the wrong button and wipe out her bank account.
But she asked them to disconnect it. She tried to childproof her XBox. That's a parent's job. Not to blame the company but smack ourselves for letting a kid who is too young for that kind of responsibility sit alone with anything linked to our money.
Sometimes I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall expecting everyone to show a little bit of common sense. I won't buy my kid an iPad because she's too young for that responsibility; why would I leave her alone with one? They can't scam her if I don't let them.
So here's the deal, parents. This isn't the only app that can make your happy childhood memories go up in a pile of bank bills. There are a ton of apps with "in-app" purchases, allowing the user to build up charges even after the original app download fee has been processed. They're trying to do what companies do best: make a little money on their products.
Now go do what parents do best: keep their kids from being the victims of profiteering commercial ventures. Great smurfs, you can do it, Mom and Dad!
Image via Yutaka Tsutano/Flickr