Facebook Sued For Selling Virtual Currency To Kids
The mother of an underage Facebook user has sued the company for allegedly refusing to refund money that her son spent on virtual currency for the in-app game Ninja Saga.
Arizona resident Glynnis Bohannon says in her lawsuit that her son ran up hundreds of dollars purchasing Facebook Credits for use in Ninja Saga. She says she initially allowed her son to charge $20 on her MasterCard for the Facebook Credits. But after that first transaction, her son, identified in court papers as "I.B.," made hundreds of dollars worth of additional in-game purchases. She doesn't provide her son's age in the complaint, except to say he's a minor.
Bohannon alleges that the social networking service didn't initially specify that it would store her credit card information. She adds that I.B. "thought he was expending virtual, in-game currency" on his subsequent purchases.
She adds in her complaint that she left a telephone message with Facebook about the charges, but hasn't yet received a refund. Bohannon also says she wasn't able to find an email address for someone who could deal with her complaint.
A Facebook spokesperson said, "We believe this complaint is without merit, and we will fight it vigorously."
Bohannon quietly filed suit last month in state court in Santa Clara, Calif. Facebook transferred the case to federal court for the Northern District of California last week. Bohannon argues that she's entitled to a refund because California law allows minors to cancel contracts they enter into.
She also argues that Facebook deceived consumers by wrongly saying on its site that purchases of Facebook Credits were nonrefundable. "Facebook knew that minors were making such purchases, and that minors had the right to void such contracts if they so chose," she alleges, adding that the no-refund language was "specifically designed to induce [consumers] to believe they had no right to receive refunds, when in fact, they have such a right."
Bohannon is seeking an injunction banning Facebook from selling Facebook Credits to minors, or to disclose that minors have the right to cancel such purchases. She also is seeking damages for herself and other parents in similar situations.