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.