Netizens warned about buying items in Facebook games

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Wed, May 15, 2013 - Page 3

Half of the popular Facebook games inspected have disclaimers excluding or restricting their liabilities for damages arising from playing their games, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.

According to the survey conducted by a Japanese Internet company, there are 13.2 million Facebook users in Taiwan, accounting for 56.7 percent of the population, the highest proportion in Asia, the foundation said.

“Facebook users are frequently invited by their friends to play games which are often registration-free, download-free, installation-free and free of charge. Players can later easily access the games after clicking the ‘Agree’ button. A lot of players buy virtual currency or in-game items with real money to boost their chances of winning or advancing in the game,” foundation chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) said.

The foundation inspected 20 Facebook games from different developers, including the latest Facebook craze, Candy Crush Saga, and the Taiwanese Farmville facsimile Happy Farm, to examine their terms of service and found that four of them had either inaccessible links to their terms of service or links only to their terms of privacy.

Twelve had disclaimers saying that they were not liable for game connection interruptions and errors, 13 indicated that they have the right to terminate the game at any time without further notice and nine said they were not liable for any damages arising from the use or the inability to use the game.

Only one of the 20 developers provided customer service contact information on its Web site, but it only provided an e-mail address, rather than a telephone number, the foundation said.

“Article 17 of the Mandatory Provisions to be Included in and Prohibitory Provisions of Standard Form Contract for Online Games clearly states that consumers have the right to make a complaint to the responsible party and the companies are required to provide a 24-hour customer service contact number,” foundation legal supervisor Hsu Tse-yu (徐則鈺) said.

Chang said that some developers are not registered in Taiwan and therefore not under Taiwan’s jurisdiction in the event of a dispute. He cautioned consumers to be aware of this before purchasing in-game items or online currency.