12-Year-Old Rings Up $1400 Farmville Bill

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12-Year-Old Rings Up $1400 Farmville Bill

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A woman in the U.K. is out a few bucks after her 12-year-old son ran up a bill of almost $1400 while playing the Facebook game Farmville.

Farmville, for those few of you who might not be aware, is a free online game from Zynga that gives players the option to spend money on various "convenience items" and other game features. It's like most other free-to-play games in this regard and it is legitimately free; I know several people who play it quite a bit and I don't think any of them have ever forked over cash for the privilege of doing so.

A hardcore 12-year-old from the U.K. took a more generous approach, however: He rang up a bill of nearly $1400 playing the game, most of which ended up on his mother's credit card. She got the bad news when her bill arrived last month and she discovered that her son had blown through his own savings of about $440 before sticking her with another $953. Unfortunately, although the charges were made without her knowledge, she's on the hook for it.

"Facebook and [game creator] Zynga will not refund anything as [her son] lives in my house," she said. "Facebook has disabled his account and Zynga has unhelpfully suggested I use password protection on computers in the future."

Her bank told her there is one way to have the charges reversed: File a complaint with the police. She's declined to do so, however, because although the boy would only receive a "caution," she was told it would stay with him for the rest of his life. "Obviously the idea of a stupid farm simulation jeopardizing his future earnings is not something that I want to consider," she said.

Amazingly, she's not blaming either Facebook or Zynga for the bill, admitting that her son is the one at fault, but she thinks that extra security for such games would be a good idea. "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," she said.

Some sort of security like a password, maybe? I can't help but think that Zynga's "unhelpful" advice is actually right on the money and pretty much exactly what she's asking for. As is so often the case, protections are only useful if people bother to use them.

As for the young farmer, he was apparently "very shocked" by just how much the game cost but said in his defense that Zynga had offered "good stuff that I wanted." Hey, we've all been there, am I right?

Source: Guardian.co.uk

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Well, I'm going to be inclined to blame the parent in this case. Question: how on earth did he get hold of his mother's credit card in the first place? I realise there's far, far better places to blow $1400 than a flash game (a jewellers, for instance), but that is not the problem in this case.

Even at 12 I think I got the fact that lots of small numbers added together makes big numbers, as hard a concept as that is to get.

Glad she's not blaming the game though.

I bet that kid has a kick ass farm

ThyNameIsMud:
I bet that kid has a kick ass farm

It got destroyed when Facebook suspended his account. I think.

I used to play farmville for a while, god only knows why, and I can't even think of how you can spend that much on it. You wouldn't have enough room to put everything so even at 12 years old you should know that its pointless.

She thinks there should be a password for when you make charges ON ZYNGA GAMES, which I agree with.

Zynga's unhelpful advice was that she should have put passwords on her entire computer in anticipation of her son spending a thousand dollars online, that's just stupid.

Kids: still better with computers then parents.
Parents fail-> still blame developers.(even when she claims not to)

Andy Chalk:

Her bank told her there is one way to have the charges reversed: File a complaint with the police. She's declined to do so, however, because although the boy would only receive a "caution," she was told it would stay with him for the rest of his life.

The way you phrase it, you seem to think getting a police caution is a trivial matter; it's actually not.

If you get a caution that is stored on the police database, and any potential employers can look at that and turn you down for a job.

So I think the mother made the right call, I hope that kid gets a lotta grounding, though.

Seriously. Kids these days don't know the value of money. Especially girls, I'm sorry to say.

I know this is a boy, but there are a ton of spoiled little princesses out there.

What can you buy with $1400 on Farmville?

Carrots?

danpascooch:
She thinks there should be a password for when you make charges ON ZYNGA GAMES, which I agree with.

Zynga's unhelpful advice was that she should have put passwords on her entire computer in anticipation of her son spending a thousand dollars online, that's just stupid.

Not really. He IS a kid after all, and kids do stupid things a lot. It falls to the mother/father/both to keep an eye on him, and Zynga is completely in the right. If she had put up a password, or more importantly, kept here Credit card number away from him (honestly, I would take steps to ensure that MY kid(s) would not get that number, whatever the cost), this would not have happened. but she didn't, and shes paying for it.

danpascooch:
She thinks there should be a password for when you make charges ON ZYNGA GAMES, which I agree with.

Zynga's unhelpful advice was that she should have put passwords on her entire computer in anticipation of her son spending a thousand dollars online, that's just stupid.

The problem is that implementing parental controls kind of undermines the minimum age limit Facebook has set up. As far I'm concerned, the problem is the fact that he got hold of a credit card in the first place.

Nice to know that Zynga's perfectly cool with credit-card fraud so long as you live in the same residence.

What the hell kind of card is that where the bank requires police involvement to stop the charge? It should be a bloody routine thing of "charges refused" that goes back to Zynga and then it puts the onus on Zynga to deal with it. I wonder.. being an entirely online provider, it's difficult to say what damages they even suffered from this. The system is likely automated, so no labour on their part. No physical goods have changed hands.. it's essentially money for nothing.. so if they don't get the money, then they're out the nothing. How do you sue for nothing?

Advice 1 for this lady: watch your kid.
Advice 2: Get a different credit card provider.

I cant help but think about the new South Park last night.

OT: Damn, that kid spent alot of money on it. How did he know how to us his mothers credit card?

Im dumbfounded by this If I was 12 and was going to blow through 1200$ on gaming, Id be getting a mad stack of ps1 games( at the time). Would never ever cross my mind to spend it on something as stupid as farmville what is wrong with kids these days.

Onyx Oblivion:
Wow...um...Get a refund?

Seriously. Kids these days don't know the value of money. Especially girls, I'm sorry to say.

Right... thats why the person in question is a boy...

Anyhow, Its the parents fault, she claims to know this, she will now be broke. What more can we say?

Wow, 1200 USD is one hell of a lot of money to blow on a game. I hope that kid finds some way of paying back his mother though.

But that's the trouble with digital distribution: you can't tell who in a household actually bought the goods. Ergo, no refund.

Yet Zynga were more than happy to keep the money for themselves and keep it quiet. Surely they knew that the farmer was a child somehow?

Armored Prayer:
I cant help but think about the new South Park last night.

Ha. I was just thinking that.

'Yahtzee dude.'

Yeah I barely trust my 19 year old brother with a credit card, let alone a 12 year old. What was this woman thinking?

How could the 12 year old even have a Facebook and Farmville account in the first place, when legally you have to be at least 13 to use those services?

Does some fault not lie with Facebook and Farmville for allowing the under-age child to commit fraud in the first place?

If a 12 year old was to go into a casino and blow all his parents money on slot machines, surely the casino would be partly responsible...

Gahh put the costs in ús! Not $s!

Anyway, reading that reminds me how how addicting it can be, the poor kid. We have all done stuff liek that i guess, just not with that much money!

Delusibeta:

danpascooch:
She thinks there should be a password for when you make charges ON ZYNGA GAMES, which I agree with.

Zynga's unhelpful advice was that she should have put passwords on her entire computer in anticipation of her son spending a thousand dollars online, that's just stupid.

The problem is that implementing parental controls kind of undermines the minimum age limit Facebook has set up. As far I'm concerned, the problem is the fact that he got hold of a credit card in the first place.

no doubt it's his fault, but Zynga could have at least minimum security set up for things like this, it's a game aimed at a younger demographic and is basically a store at the same time, of course things like this are going to happen. Except no way Zynga will set anything up because whether it's stolen or not, they want every dollar they can get.

Ori Disciple:

danpascooch:
She thinks there should be a password for when you make charges ON ZYNGA GAMES, which I agree with.

Zynga's unhelpful advice was that she should have put passwords on her entire computer in anticipation of her son spending a thousand dollars online, that's just stupid.

Not really. He IS a kid after all, and kids do stupid things a lot. It falls to the mother/father/both to keep an eye on him, and Zynga is completely in the right. If she had put up a password, or more importantly, kept here Credit card number away from him (honestly, I would take steps to ensure that MY kid(s) would not get that number, whatever the cost), this would not have happened. but she didn't, and shes paying for it.

Not saying Zynga is in the fault, or that they are obligated to give any advice, but since they did, it's worth pointing out that it's crappy advice.

Facebook and Zynga were bound to have known something was up. I mean seriously? someone spending almost 2 grand on a free flash game? And no one noticed? Bah. I know youre not entirely innocent facebook. You too Zynga

What...
No, seriously.
What?!
What do you spend 1400 in a game that you can't spend on getting more games? It's a ridiculous paradox!
Someone needs to teach that kid what the mother's credit card was made for

Snowalker:

Onyx Oblivion:
Wow...um...Get a refund?

Seriously. Kids these days don't know the value of money. Especially girls, I'm sorry to say.

Right... thats why the person in question is a boy...

Anyhow, Its the parents fault, she claims to know this, she will now be broke. What more can we say?

He is an exception. Little girls I know are spoiled fucking brats.

How did he get her credit card info in the first place?!

If she told him the info then damn, what a moron. Kids aren't little bundles of innocence and goodness. I know, I've been to school.

Sir Ollie:
What can you buy with $1400 on Farmville?

Carrots?

Really, really good carrots.

I risk sounding cliche here, but I totally blame the mother for a few reasons:

1) How did he get her credit card details? She should know where her purse is at all times!
2) At his age, he shouldn't be entirely unsupervised online, end of story.
3) The kid's a little shit. He should know right from wrong and know that stealing from his mother is wrong, even if it is 'on credit', and even if he thought that credit meant 'free money'.
4) A 12 year old with $400 in savings? This kid obviously gets everything he wants, or he wouldn't have just swanned over to Mommy's credit card once he'd blown all that money.

She should've called the Police on his ass and REALLY taught him a lesson. It's probably why he did it in the first place, I refuse personally to believe it was a situation where he didn't realise the error.

Wow. I'm reminded of that girl that rang up that ridiculously high cell phone bill for texting. Honestly, don't these kids realize that their parents are not endlessly supplied with money?

And how in the world do you ring up a bill like that for Farmville, exactly?

She should've filed the complaint with the police. If the kid is only 12, then I believe his record is cleaned when he turns 18, anyway. But if she wants to bite the bullet and pay for it, then let her. Maybe she'll learn that her kid is irresponsible and lock up her credit cards.

Andy Chalk:
12-Year-Old Rings Up $1400 Farmville Bill

Amazingly, she's not blaming either Facebook or Zynga for the bill, admitting that her son is the one at fault, but she thinks that extra security for such games would be a good idea. "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," she said.

Permalink

im glad very glad

She wont even caution him despite ith avoing no effect against him...so she has to pay the money? A bit stupid really...

Well, maybe she will keep a coser eye in future

I'm not a fan of farmville, never have been.
But this kid has spent this ridiculous amount of money and then they suspend his account.
Whilst the money may have been totally wasted at least there was something there, now the $1400 (Blegh currency conversion) is gone completely.
That doesn't seem to be the most consoling approach to me...

This is no different from anything else. Kid buys $1400 worth of clothes, oh well. If you aren't going to treat a game that can cost money the same as anything that can cost money, then the problem isn't with the game. The kid needs to know what money is, because once he's not living with his mother anymore he'd going to find out real quick that $1440 in crops on Farmville can't feed him.

Sir Ollie:
What can you buy with $1400 on Farmville?

Carrots?

A metric fuckton of carrots.

This is bad, it gives a bad name to us REAL GAMERS.

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