ACCC Tells EA Its Refund Policy Is Unfair. EA Agrees.

Remember when EA initially claimed it would not be providing refunds for Sim City? Remember when the ACCC warned EA that was against Australian consumer law? Today the ACCC released a statement discussing EA refund statement. In response to pressure from the ACCC, EA has provided a court undertaking promising to change the way it deals with refunds in the future.

In short: EA is admitting its refund policy most likely breached certain areas of Australian Consumer Law and is taking steps to rectify that.

EA has agreed to create a new consumer redress program. Anyone who bought a faulty video game through Origin from January 2012 onwards can now contact EA to help address that situation either using a 1800 number, which EA has promised to set up. For now the ACCC is recommending that users with a complaint head to Origin's website for further details.

“Businesses such as EA selling digitally downloadable goods cannot avoid their responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law just because they are located outside of Australia,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said, in a statement.

“If you sell to consumers in Australia, then the Australian Consumer Law applies to all goods or services you supply. This includes all of the ACL consumer guarantees, which cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.”

“It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that customers are not entitled to refunds under any circumstances. Where a product has a major failure, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their choice. Representations that this right has or can be excluded, restricted or modified are false or misleading,” Mr Sims said.

We suspect that this decision was most likely spurred on by the Sim City controversy. Back then EA had claimed it would not be providing refunds on digital copies of The Sims after its troublesome launch. The ACCC took exception to this as it contradicted Australian consumer law. Even back then EA Australia backtracked from what was a global statement. Kotaku was told EA "would always comply with Australian consumer laws that apply to the purchases consumers make in Australia". This undertaking appears to be the result of this commitment.

“We’re pleased to have worked cooperatively with the ACCC to resolve the ACCC's concerns and ensure our players in Australia have the best possible experience when purchasing and playing EA games," said EA in a statement sent to Kotaku. "In addition to rights available to our players under the Australian Consumer Law, we are also proud to offer our global, industry-leading Great Game Guarantee that allows for digital returns within certain timeframes if anyone is not satisfied with a digitally-downloaded game from EA. (see: https://www.origin.com/en-au/great-game-guarantee for further details)."

It should also be noted that Valve is currently in the process of being taken to court by the ACCC for the exact same issue. We've yet to hear the results of that litigation. Hopefully we'll get some sort of update on that case as well in the near future.


Comments

    Granted, I didn't buy the last SimCity, but I had a fine experience getting a refund from Origin.

    Steam, on the other hand...

      I have got refunds from steam before, the magic trick is to use Paypal and to open a case. Oh and provide valid reasons and evidence other then 'I hate this game, meh'

        I got one from them... just after wading through a stream of "you should have known the game was broken before you bought it!"

        Which I would have, except they let devs delete complaint threads.

    Funny how EA only agrees when they're caught.

      Funny how they are getting in trouble for their refund system because its not good enough when Steam doesnt have one at all.

      Last edited 28/04/15 1:44 pm

        Even funnier still is how it's taken this long for anything to be done about either...

          The funniest thing here is the fact the whole lot of you realize this is the Australian government, and 2 years is a pretty fast turn over for them...

          Essendon drug saga on the other hand...

        Steam does have a refund system, The ACCC did the same thing to steam last year,

    I really dislike EA's business practices but I have to give them credit for how quickly they refunded me for BF Hardline.

    I had the money back in my paypal account almost immediately after clicking the refund button. It was easier to refund the game than to buy the game.

    Back in the day I wanted to buy the original Xbox version of Splinter Cell: Double Agent, which was an entirely different game and made by a different studio to the 360 one, which I had already played. I found it on Steam, checked screenshots to confirm it was the lastgen version, and bought it. Turns out it was the 360 version, not the Xbox version.

    When I asked Steam for a refund, they told me that was my responsibility to make sure that the game I'm buying is the correct one. They were literally advertising a completely different game to the one that they were selling and somehow it was my fault. It's the same going to JB Hi Fi, buying Assassin's Creed, discovering that it's actually Barbie Horse Adventures in the box, then being told that it's your fault and that you're not entitled to a refund. Was so ridiculous.

    If Steam can get away with that, I'm not sure why Origin is getting called out here.

    edit: looking at Steam, I see that Double Agent is still being advertised as the original Xbox version. I can't believe they haven't fixed it.

    Last edited 28/04/15 2:02 pm

      Steam will probably get done for it as well. I mean, in this instance it appears that EA's defence was 'We agree. We'll fix it'. It's hard to see Steam getting away with any less than the same.

      Your actions should have gone like this
      - Complaint to Steam - No joy
      - Complaint to Fair Trading - Fair Trading confirm you're in the right and Steam do nothing
      - Tribunal in your state - You got ot the tribunal and now ask for all costs to be covered - you win and walk away witht he cost of the game, the cost of the tribunal plus administration costs, lost time in chasing them.

    Why don't steam have the same return policy -.-

      they do actually, but its only a 24hr refund after the game is purchased and the ACCC is also currently working at taking Valve to court which they started late last year

    Is there some sort of 'game time limit' you get for a refund? To stop people asking for a refund after putting 150 hours into a game and then suddenly having an epiphany of how they don't actually like it.

      The game must be faulty (goods don't work as described or are different to what's advertised). So shaky launches will net you a refund but purchasing a stable game that runs on your machine and changing your mind after hours of play, in the abscence of a game-breaking bug, will not.

    Origin has had it's 'Great Game Guarantee' in place on Origin for a fair while now, I thought. Never had to use it myself, but I know people that have, and it's been pretty painless, apparently. Origin's tech support has helped me out in the past too, with preorder difficulties.

    But as pointed out above, funny how people still parrot the 'Fuck EA' thing to the ends of the earth, and EA're getting in trouble, yet Steam still has no refund policy, and zero customer support.

    Last edited 28/04/15 2:49 pm

    Hold on just a moment. Apparently if you sell to Australian's you have to abide by Australian consumer law? Surely that is not the case. There is no way to chase that for a company that has no Australian presence.

      If you sell to any country you have to abide by their consumer laws. Otherwise you risk losing your ability to trade legally in that country.

        I'm pretty sure if I set up a webshop and sell stuff, and someone in America buys it, I am subject to no laws of theirs.
        losing your ability to trade legally in that country.
        How can they stop me shipping out orders? Will they be illegal then?

      EA does indeed have an Australian presence, and has done so since 1987. ACN: 003 367 824.

    So does that mean we have better consumer practices than comparable countries like US and UK? If you buy stuff in the US, aren't you entitled to a refund if it's crap?

    These are refunds under the ACL for faulty goods. The ACL doesn't require refunds for change of mind I.e. I don't like this game

    I really have no idea but this has left me wondering... If you buy a game which has some really annoying bugs, would that allow you to get a refund? It be nice if the industry stamped down on the releasing of games which need to be patched over and over to work as intended originally.

    Origin for all its flaws has the best refund policy, why dont they actually go after valve instead who needs a right kick up the arse!

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