Norway Says The Nintendo eShop “Does Not Comply With European Law”

Despite their convenience, digital game purchases are a mess when you think of what it actually means to you, the consumer. You don’t have a physical thing that you can store for decades on your shelves, you can’t sell them on, and for a long, long time, you simply couldn’t get a refund. Ever.

Things are getting much better as stores like Steam become more consumer friendly, but someone’s got to check that the few clear laws that are in place are being enforced. Putting on their Good Guy hats this time are Norway and the Norwegian Consumer Council, who decided to study the various digital storefronts in the EU and found that Nintendo have been a bit naughty in not letting you cancel a pre-order prior to the game’s release. It’s all about when the “performance” begins, and the Consumer Council quite rightly say that you can’t “perform” something before it’s been released.

In a letter that is basically Norway asking Nintendo what they hell they think they’re doing and to explain themselves. They ask:

  • Can consumers freely cancel or withdraw from a pre-order or pre-purchase before the release of the game?
  • If yes, how does the consumer proceed to forward such a claim?
  • If not, please explain the legal reasoning.

Responding to Alphr, Nintendo state that “The operation of Nintendo eShop in Europe is fully compliant with European laws relating to the statutory rights of consumers.”

Personally, I find digital pre-orders and purchases to still be rather unfriendly in a lot of ways. On the PlayStation Store, you’re now charged at the point of pre-order for many games, instead of the previous practice of only charging you when you could download the game – at the point of “performance” – and the bets are off if you want a refund, with every store having different policies.

While it’s good that Norway are holding Nintendo to account, what would be better is if more meaningful legislation was brought in to enshrine people’s rights for digital goods in a manner closer to retail.

Source: Norwegian Consumer Council via Alphr

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  1. I think what Nintendo meant to say there was that they’re fully compliant with the laws as they choose to interpret them.

    Charging at the time you order something seems reasonable though, if you can change your mind later. How many pre-orders would run into trouble later if they don’t do it that way? How many people wouldn’t have money in their account to pay for it? Or find it automatically takes money from whatever card is linked to their account for a pre-order they forgot about because it was a month ago, and then they end up being charged by their bank and blaming Sony, or whoever.

    It probably saves a lot of trouble, and cuts down on angry phonecalls to Sony that way. And what’s the downside? If you’ve not got the money now, wait until later. It’s not as if they’re going to sell out of pre-orders of a digital copy of anything, is it?

    • If I pre-order physical goods, I only ever do so at stores where they charge on dispatch. Placing a pre-order, I know it’s up to me to make sure money is in the right account etc. etc. If it’s good enough for retail, where there’s far greater pressure on knowing the supply chain, managing stock and risks, then there’s no excuse for digital.

      Also, it used to be this way on PSN, but I think Activision got fed up of people pre-ordering and then cancelling to get in on the stupid pre-order only betas.

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