Parents Complain About High Cellphone Bills from Free-to-Play Games

February 19, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. skyrocket (v.) – to rise suddenly and rapidly
Example: Food prices skyrocketed because ingredients became more expensive.

2. transaction (n.) – the act or process of buying an item or a service
Example: He prefers transactions that allow the use of credit cards.

3. expense (n.) –something that requires money
Example: My friend got a part-time job to pay for his school expenses.

4. pile up (phrasal verb) – to increase or grow in number or quality over time
Example: Documents that need the manager’s signature are piled up on the table.

5. deceive (v.) – to make someone believe what is not true
Example: He deceived customers by telling them the bad products were made of top quality materials.

Read the text below.

The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan has recently been receiving a lot of complaints from parents about “Freemium” games. Parents say their cellphone bills have skyrocketed because of their children’s transactions on these supposedly free games.

Freemium games are basically free of charge, but still require payments for special game items and features. Such a business model is very popular in Japan’s mobile gaming market.

However, some game companies advertise their games as completely free, and this often misleads people, especially children and teenagers. Most of these young players are unaware that game expenses are actually paid with real money, and that charges pile up on their parents’ cellphone bills.

One complaint said the parent was shocked to receive a ¥100,000 ($1,300) cellphone bill after their 5-year-old child bought an item worth this amount in one of the “free” games.

The number of complaints about fees from Freemium games rose from 555 in 2009 to 665 in 2010 and is expected to be even higher for 2011.

To resolve the issue, the Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency announced that it will strictly act on companies that deceive customers about game fees.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. .

Discussion A

·         Do you think parents can be blamed for what happened to their cellphone bills? Why or why not?
·         How can parents lessen the time their children spend on cellphone gaming?

Discussion B

·         Should advertising be controlled by the government? Please explain your answer.
·         What do you think customers should do to avoid being misled by advertisements?


February 19, 2012