LOS ANGELES (CN) – Chili’s restaurants bilk customers by putting tablets loaded with games on dinner tables for kids, then charging parents for the games, a class action claims.
Brenda Quijada sued Brinker Restaurant Corp. and Ziosk in Superior Court on Friday, on behalf of parents and guardians who were charged for the games.
Brinker owns the Chili’s and Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant chains.
Ziosk created the first pay-at-the-table tablet for casual dining restaurants. The 7-inch Android devices are available at more than 1,500 locations in the United States, according to its website.
Among other things, the tablets let diners view the menu, order food and drinks and download and play games, according to the complaint.
Quijada claims the companies trick people into thinking the games are free by failing to disclose that a 99-cent “entertainment fee” will be added to their bill if they use the tablet to play games.
“The main screen user interface simply provides the patron with a menu of service categories (drinks, food, fun and eClub) without any disclaimer language,” the complaint states. (Parentheses in original.)
“Once a customer – either of legal age or a minor – clicks the ‘fun’ application on the tablet they are taken to a second screen. This screen features: (1) content available without payment of the entertainment fee and (2) content that is accessible in exchange for payment of the ‘entertainment’ fee,” the complaint continues.
Some tablets do indicate that premium content costs $0.99, according to the complaint.
The companies specifically target kids by offering content such as dietary information and a link to the “USA Today” for free while charging $0.99 for fun games such as Spy Mouse, Plants vs. Zombies and Poppit!, which appeal to kids, the complaint states.
Diners buy a game by tapping on it and then tapping again on a green button that says “Let’s Play.” Quijada claims the tablets do not check the user’s age or have any parental control measures to make sure kids have permission to buy a game.
Targeting kids by putting games on the tablets “and inducing them to purchase, without the knowledge or permission of their parents, thousands of dollars of premium content is unlawful in the extreme,” the complaint states.
Quijada says she took her younger brother and daughter to Chili’s and let them play with the Ziosk tablet during the meal.
She says she did not know they were using the tablet to buy and play games, and claims that none of the Chili’s staff warned her that playing the games would add $0.99 to her bill.
A company spokeswoman told Courthouse News the defendants decline to comment as they have not yet been served with the lawsuit.
Quijada seeks class certification, an injunction, restitution, disgorgement and damages for false and misleading advertising.
She is represented by Marcus Bradley with Marlin & Saltzman of Agoura Hills, who did not return requests for comment Monday.
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