Sony Facing Australian Court Over Consumer Rights Violations

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Sony Facing Australian Court Over Consumer Rights Violations

May 29, 2019

By: Richard Costa

 
 

According to a report on GamesIndustry.biz, Sony Europe is being taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over consumer rights violations, more specifically its PlayStation Store refund policy, which does not reflect the consumer rights under Australian law. According to the ACCC, from September 2017, Sony Europe refused to offer refunds for any games that had already been downloaded, or if more than 14 days had passed since the purchase.

Last month we reported that Sony had updated its PlayStation Store refund and cancellation policy. The new refund policy still doesn't allow users who have downloaded the game to request a refund, and all refunds are still given only as PlayStation Store wallet credit, rather than a full cash refund, another point of contention by the ACCC. According to the ACCC, these policies are not in line with the consumer credits guaranteed under Australian law. ACCC chair Rod Sims has issued an official statement here.

We allege that Sony Europe gave false and misleading information to their customers about their rights in relation to games sold via its PlayStation Store. Consumer guarantees do not expire after a digital product has been downloaded as we allege Sony Europe told consumers, and refunds must be given in the form of original payment unless a consumer chooses to receive it in store credit. Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would at a physical store.
There is a very big precedent for this case, as Australia has had plenty of experience in this department from its legal battle with another digital distribution giant, Steam. In March 2016, Valve was found guilty by the Australian federal court. The company had appealed in February 2016, but the Australian court didn't budge. In December 2016 they were fined $3 million for refusing refunds on the terms expected by Australian law. That's why Steam refund policy is as comprehensive and broad as it is now. The Epic Games Store had the foresight to follow suit and avoid a similar legal battle.

Sony would have to put up quite a fight in the Australian court if they want to get away with this. GamesIndustry.biz has also reported on Sony's history of "consumer hostility, such as when a German consumer association sent them a warning over PNS terms and conditions, and when the company was embroiled in another investigation by the Norwegian Consumer Council for alleged breaches of European consumer law (along with Nintendo, Valve, and EA)". There's another recent investigation by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, on the business practices of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.

Do you think Sony will change its refund policy? Or is a legal battle in the works? Let us know in the comments below!

Richard Costa
Staff Writer

Hack for hire, indentured egghead, maverick thoughtcriminal. Mainly interested in Western RPGs, first-person immersion, turn-based tactics, point-and-clickers, and card jousting.

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