The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking Sony to court over alleged breaches of consumer laws, specifically in regards to refunds for games purchased through the PlayStation store.
“The ACCC alleges that from around September 2017, Sony Europe told consumers seeking a refund for faulty games that it did not have to provide refunds for games that had been downloaded, or if 14 days had passed since purchase,” reports the ACCC. “Sony Europe also allegedly told consumers it did not have to provide refunds unless the game developer told the consumer the game was irreparably faulty or otherwise authorised a refund. It also told consumers that it could provide refunds using virtual PlayStation currency instead of money.”
“The ACCC’s case is that these representations are false or misleading, and do not reflect the consumer guarantee rights afforded to all Australian consumers under the Australian Consumer Law.”
“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,” adds ACCC Chair Rod Sims. “Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would at a physical store.”
Sony Europe cover the Australian PlayStation store so they will be the ones heading to court.“No matter where in the world a company has its headquarters, if it is selling to Australian consumers, the Australian Consumer Law applies,” Mr Sims said. The ACCC will be seeking “pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, correctives and costs.
Australian consumer law states that “you are entitled to return a product if you believe that there is a problem,” and given the shoddy state of some games that have been released recently that law could apply. However, it might be difficult to define exactly what ‘a problem’ is. Fallout 76 was buggy as hell but for the most part did work, so if a game is playable and does not crash that could be classed as a functioning product and would not require a refund.
However, another part of the Australian consumer charter states that “Products must be of acceptable quality, that is: safe, lasting, with no faults,” and we all know games can ship with many bugs.
It will be interesting to see how this one pans out as European consumer laws are broadly the same as those in Australia, we will keep you updated.