The gaming industry has come a long way when it comes to offering consumer refunds, particularly in Australia. But as far as Norway is concerned, the industry hasn't gone far enough - Nintendo in particular.
The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) has taken Nintendo to task on its website, claiming that "Nintendo ... violates consumer rights by not offering any way to cancel a pre-ordered game".
In the NCC's open letter, which is published in English here, they notice that an exemption in the European Union's Consumer Rights Directive does not take away a consumers' right to withdrawal if they haven't received the product or part of the product yet:
In accordance with article 16 (m) of the Consumer Rights Directive the consumer does not have the right of withdrawal if the supply of the digital content has begun with the consumer’s prior express consent and his acknowledgement that his consent entails that he thereby loses his right of withdrawal. This exemption only applies to digital content where the performance has begun.
The performance has not begun for games that have not yet been released. Even with prior consent, Nintendo cannot, prohibit the consumer from cancelling or withdrawing from a digital content contract before the performance has begun.
"The Consumer Council discovered that Nintendo stands out from the rest when it comes to the pre-ordering of video games. The company plainly states that all purchases are final. According to the right of withdrawal laid down in the consumer rights directive, such terms are illegal," the council wrote.
For added measure, they also reiterated that consumers shouldn't be pre-ordering video games anyway "unless they are 100% sure that the game will live up to their expectations". Nintendo's international offices had not issued a comment or responded to the consumer council publicly at the time of writing.
Kotaku Australia also contacted Nintendo locally for comment regarding the company's refund policies in regards to Australians and local consumer law; if we get a reply on any of the above, we'll let you know.