Monday, September 12, 2011

A costly lesson…

I just about passed out a couple of months ago when I opened our cell phone bill. $1,125.

Yes, you read that right. One thousand one-hundred twenty-five dollars.

Let’s just say that our bill should be SIGNIFICANTLY less than that. While talking a very patient representative from our provider (who also gasped at the amount), we discovered that the main culprit was a three-day binge on gems for a game. Seriously. GEMS. FOR A GAME! GRRRRRRR……..

My kids love playing everything from educational games to fun, interactive games. T.’s particularly fond of the games that give you a task, then require you to prioritize different actions in order to meet the goal. I love how it makes him think about the steps it takes to get things done.

So, the time came to switch our home phone to another provider. My husband thought a simpler smart phone would be a good idea—this would allow us to have one phone at home the kiddos could use on their own (in our living room, while we are watching). It would also allow us to keep our phones to ourselves.

He set it up, downloaded appropriate games and let the kids take turns playing. We went through the rules of using the phone—it does not leave the common area, ask before downloading a new game, etc.

We know what games they play, and for the most part are okay with them. What we did not realize is that one particular game had some in-app purchases. And since my son hasn’t really seen this before, he clicked “OK” every time the box would pop up. “Do you want to upgrade your item? It costs 100 gems.”

T. is seven years old. He has no real experience in money and how it works. In his mind the answer was simple: OK.

Little did he know that the gems cost $1 each. Or the panic that would be unleashed a month later.

Thanks to a persistent husband and a very sympathetic vendor, the charges were reversed and we arranged it so no purchase can be made on that phone without a credit card.

My wonderful T.

When he grows up I’ll talk about the things he did that caused major panic attacks. Like the time he wanted to help and started cleaning the cat’s litter box. T. put cat litter (clay based) in the toilet because that’s where poop goes. I forget how much the plumbing bill was for that “helpful” task, but all our pipes were clogged throughout the house.

It’s funny now, and I can actually tell these stories while laughing. And they are good fodder for future girlfriends.

Yes, I’m that mom. ;-)

Reace Alvarenga-Smith is a Public Relations Manager for Texas Health Resources and mother of two.

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