Additional Announcement and Apology Regarding Failure of Spending Limits for Minors in Japan
Jan. 18, 2013
TOKYO, Japan - January 18, 2013 - GREE apologizes to its customers and other stakeholders for any inconvenience or worry arising from its recently announced system failure and from the delay in its disclosure. The system failure related to the spending limits for minors it established in 2012 for its service and affected some underage customers in Japan.
Following the announcement on January 71 GREE has continued to investigate the scope of payments affected. These investigations have revealed that the failure of spending limits involved system flaws in additional payment methods, GREE's monthly plans2 and Rakuten Edy; as well as an engineering design flaw in the process for connection to third-party payment systems.
GREE views this matter with the utmost seriousness and is working to refund the affected underage customers as soon as possible. GREE is continuing its investigations and will endeavor to investigate the full details of the system failure, while acting to reexamine its internal organization and operational framework. Details will be disclosed as soon as these measures have been decided.
GREE is strongly committed to further improving its user environment, and to regaining the trust of its customers. As an initial measure, effective from today, January 18, 2013, a restriction has been put in place that prevents underage customers making payments via credit card. A range of other measures are under examination and will be implemented.
The following is a summary of information regarding the system flaw.
Details of investigation results
Investigation results as of January 7, 2013
|Investigation period||April 1, 2012 - September 7, 2012|
|Number of underage customers affected||733|
|Total amount by which spending limits were exceeded||\28,114,470|
|Scope of investigation||Underage customers of GREE on feature phones who met the following conditions: had opted into payment via credit card; had made a purchase equal to or greater than the minimum purchase amount of \105; had made payments exceeding the monthly spending limits of \5,000 (including consumption tax) in the case of minors aged 15 and below, and \10,000 (including consumption tax) in the case of minors aged between 16 and 19|
Investigation results as of January 18, 2013
|Investigation period||April 1, 2012 - January 12, 2013|
|Number of underage customers affected||5,544|
|Total amount by which spending limits were exceeded||\49,370,170|
|Scope of investigation||Underage customers of GREE on feature phones or smartphones who had, using any payment method other than GREE prepaid cards, made payments exceeding the monthly spending limits of \5,000 (including consumption tax) for minors aged 15 and below, and \10,000 (including consumption tax) for minors aged between 16 and 19|
Details of newly identified underlying causes of minors being able to spend over limit
Customers using GREE's monthly plans
On April 1, 2012, GREE introduced spending limits for minors utilizing carrier billing. However, in the case of underage customers who had subscribed to GREE's monthly plans in excess of the spending limits prior to that date, if the customer continued with the existing monthly plan, the customer could exceed the monthly spending limits of \5,000 for minors under 15, and \10,000 for minors aged between 16 and 19. The same situation holds today.
GREE is working to resolve this matter as soon as possible. However, in order to prevent further customers from being affected, effective today, January 18, 2013, GREE is suspending applications for GREE's monthly plans by underage customers who are already using certain carriers, in order to prevent other underage customers from being affected. In the case of underage customers using GREE's monthly plans, GREE is also blocking all payment means with the exception of GREE pre-paid cards, in order to prevent the use of multiple payment methods in combination by these customers.
|Timeframe of system flaw||April 1, 2012 to present date (unresolved)|
|Cause||Due to a design error of the spending limits set for carrier payments by underage customers, the spending limit settings did not cover underage customers who had subscribed to monthly payment plans in excess of the spending limits prior to the introduction.|
Customers using Rakuten Edy
Underage customers of GREE on feature phones who had selected payment via Rakuten Edy were also affected. This failure resulted from a system error that has since been resolved and the system is now operating normally.
|Timeframe of system flaw||April 1, 2012 to August 21, 2012|
|Cause||When the underage customers used Rakuten Edy as a payment method, GREE's spending limit setting malfunctioned due to a design error.|
Design error in system for connection to third-party settlement systems
Some of the customers using GREE on feature phones or smartphones may be able to make payments in excess of the spending limits, and this issue has been continuing until today, but is scheduled to be resolved from today.
|Timeframe of system flaw||April 26, 2012 to date (to be resolved January 18, 2013)|
|Cause||A time lag arises before notification of payment by underage customers is received by GREE's servers, with the result that if an underage customer used a different payment method during that time, in some cases GREE's spending limit malfunctioned due to a design error.|
Status of response
- In addition to the announcements made on GREE, GREE has distributed individual alerts via email to all of the underage customers affected.
- A hotline for telephone inquiries has been established.
- Of the underage customers affected, contact has been established with 136 people as of January 17, 2013, with refunds of excess payments scheduled to be made from late January.
|Contact telephone number||0120-266-016(toll-free)
|Opening hours||Weekdays 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sundays, public holidays 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
*2 A monthly payment plan allowing customers to obtain a fixed monthly amount of virtual coins for use on GREE. By initially agreeing to the payment of a fixed monthly amount, customers receive bonus items and extra features in addition to a fixed amount of coins per month. A number of courses linked to GREE services and social games are available in various price ranges, examples of which are the Avatar Plus Course, the Tsuri-Sta Plus Course, and the Clinoppe Plus Course.