Bad Cookie Run experiences spur NBTC to consider credit limit for game

Economy June 24, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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WITH THE Cookie Run game turning bitter for many players, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has decided to step in.

No matter how cute and innocent Cookie Run characters may look, players risk losing too much money if they don’t understand that special items in the game are sometimes sold for real money. 
“It may be necessary to impose credit limits for the purchase of applications, games, items and stickers – perhaps at Bt1,000 per billing cycle,” NBTC member Prawit Leesathapornwongsa said yesterday. 
He was speaking after he summoned the representatives of five mobile-phone service operators to a meeting in the wake of reports that a 12-year-old boy incurred a phone bill of more than Bt200,000 in less than a month via the Cookie Run. The bill was from Advanced Wireless Network, a subsidiary of Advanced Info Service (AIS), he said. 
AWN is the first operator in Thailand to allow mobile-phone users to pay for Google Play Store services via direct  carrier billing (DCB). With this method, mobile-phone users do not need to associate their account with a credit-card number. They can pay for the services via their phone-service payment, which could be either pre-paid or post-paid from April 30 to May 30.
AIS executive Pratana Leelapanang said the company had decided to launch DCB services to provide convenience to users of Android phones. 
“And when we noticed that some customers had incurred unusually high expenses last month, we didn’t stay idle. We immediately shut down the DCB service for all post-paid users,” he said. 
Pratana said AIS had also offered to waive fees for customers who unintentionally bought services from the Google Play Store via DCB.
He said AIS would develop its alert system further to prevent customers from incurring unwanted expenses. 
“We’re also thinking about a credit limit and educating the public more about online services.” 
Prawit said the NBTC would invite Google Thailand to a discussion on Thursday to see how the firm, as a platform provider, could help prevent the aforementioned problems. 
However, the DCB services provided by AWN are done via a contract between Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), the major shareholder of AIS, and Google Singapore. 
Cookie Run is an irresistible game among many Thais. 
Two months ago, a Thai man fell from a four-storey building after getting too absorbed in this game. Fortunately, he was not seriously hurt.