It’s just a dumb game, right? If you use Facebook, you’ve no doubt seen posts from friends seemingly addicted to FarmVille about the little lost lamb they found on the farm or the flower shop they just bought in the virtual world. If you’re involved in the game, these may make for exciting news but if you’re not, you probably just ignore them. Well, it turns out, you might want to start paying a little more attention, especially when the posts come from your own kids.
It turns out that a lot of that stuff people add to their farms is not free — it costs real money. As one British mom found out the hard way. Her 12-year-old son spent more than £900 or about $1400 on buying items for his online farm. Part of that came from his own savings account but the rest was charged to his mother’s credit card. When asked why he did it, the boy said that the game’s designers had introduced “good stuff that I wanted.”
Requests made to Facebook and the game developer, Zynga, for a refund have come up empty (hey, the least they could do is give them some FarmVille credits!) and the credit card company said that unless the mother filed criminal charges against the boy, there was nothing they could do either. The mother doesn’t blame Facebook or Zynga, but says “I do think they need to shoulder some responsibility in this business and put systems in place to stop this happening again. The fact that he was using a card in a different name should bring up some sort of security and the online secure payment filter seems to be bypassed for Facebook payments.”
At least she’s putting blame where it belongs — on the boy — but I also have to agree that if the name on the Facebook account doesn’t match the name on the credit card, the charge shouldn’t go through without a red flag being raised. That said, I’m going to make sure my kids don’t get caught up in these games — or go broke trying, anyway.