The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to investigate Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo

 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has begun an investigation in to online gaming subscription services, specifically PlayStation Plus, Xbox Live, and Nintendo Switch Online. They state that they are “concerned about whether some of these companies’ business practices are legal.”

They are looking at the auto renewal procedure for each service, asking if the consumer is given fair warning that their account will debited in the near future, and also how easy it is to get a refund or cancel the agreement. They are also going to investigate how fair the contracts are, mentioning prices rises, which Xbox announced a few days ago, or a reduction in the number of games, as Sony did with PlayStation Plus.

As the investigation has just kicked off the CMA has reached no judgement but do state “Should we find that the firms aren’t treating people fairly under consumer protection law, we are fully prepared to take action.”

I’ve had a quick look round the PlayStation Plus pages and it specifically states “Two PS4 games are added to the PS Plus monthly games library.” The previous text from when there were PS3 and PS Vita games included (as checked via the Wayback Archive) read “Each month a selection of games is added to Monthly Plus Games.”

Source: CMA / PlayStation.Com

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News Editor at TheSixthAxis, DJ, Producer of UK#1 album, writer of boppy dance tunes, cat daddy, porn star, gym bunny, #TeamGay, and massively inappropriate. Probs fancies your dad.

5 Comments

  1. How much more warning could Sony give that you’ll be charged every year?? The store page for PS+ says “This subscription is a paid-for ongoing subscription and a recurring subscription fee of £49.99 will be deducted from your wallet every year”. Twice. And then mentions a recurring subscription fee. And a yearly billing frequency. And that it’s “ongoing until cancellation”.

    And then says you can cancel at any time, and gives a link to instructions on how to do it. And warns that they’ll turn on automatic funding, but you can turn that off at any time.

    And are price rises unfair? It’s not like they can suddenly force you to pay more. PS+ went up from £40 to £50, with plenty of notice and they couldn’t suddenly say “you owe us an extra £10”. Not like phone contracts where the price can go up and you have to pay more because you’re still under contract.

    The only possible complaint that actually makes any sense is reducing PS+ from 6 to 2 games. Which they gave a warning about a whole year in advance. So only affects anyone who subscribed after they warned everyone, or who stacked up more than a year’s subscription, which is probably only a small number of people.

    • Thing is, every time i’ve renewed my PS plus sub, because i only fund my psn wallet with psn vouchers i’ve always immediately gone and turned off automatic renewal but at some point afterwards Sony always re-activate it without my permission. So they could basically take my money and apply a renewal without my permission. I would like to see that changed.

      • Weird. It turns on automatically if you renew, and gives you plenty of warnings it will do so, but if you turn it off, it stays off. Unless you do something that turns it on again. Pre-ordering something might cause it as well. If you look at your account settings it’s got an option for “Automatically Renew Subscriptions or Pay for Pre-ordered Content”.

        If they turn it on without your permission, that obviously needs to change. But I’ve only ever had it turn on when I’ve done something it clearly states will turn it on.

  2. If the CMA aren’t happy with the renewal process of these three companies then I bet there are more that they will need to look into. I’ve never had a renewal email from amazon saying that they are going to take payment for prime renewal.

  3. When I order something online, I get several emails and texts to update me on the progress of my order/delivery (OTT some times). I’m not sure if Amazon/Sony even notify you when your sub is due to renew?

    I think a text message 3 days before your sub is due to renew would be the best idea. Emails are easily missed/ignored or sent directly to junk/spam.

    Never been an issue for me but I do think there is an element of ‘hopefully they won’t realise and we can charge them for another month’ with a lot of these subs. There’s definitely room for improvement but we’ll see what the outcome is in time I guess.

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