ACCC Forces EB Games To Offer Fallout 76 Refunds

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ACCC Forces EB Games To Offer Fallout 76 Refunds

Australia’s competition regulator announced Monday afternoon that EB Games, the largest specialist games retailer in Australia and New Zealand, has agreed to a court-enforceable undertaking to refund anyone who bought Fallout 76 between November 14, 2018 and October 31, 2019.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced in a release that the games retailer had admitted “they are likely to have misled consumers about their consumer guarantee rights” over Fallout 76. Customers tried to get a refund for the game shortly after launch, but were rebuffed by EB Games despite citing problems with the game, such as glitches and server outages.

EB Games’ move comes several months after the ACCC forced Zenimax, Bethesda’s parent company, to issue refunds to customers. Zenimax had previously refused to issue refunds to Australians, saying that Aussies had no right to a refund under the Australian Consumer Law if they had bought the game through the online Bethesda store, or a third-party retailer.

Fallout 76 Refunds Ordered By ACCC

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a court enforceable order that will allow some Fallout 76 customers to receive refunds.

Read more

EB’s undertaking to the competition regulator is as follows:

The ACCC was concerned that certain statements made by representatives engaged by or on behalf of EB Games in response to complaints by customers that the Fallout 76 game they had purchased from EB Games was faulty were likely to have conveyed false or misleading representations to the effect that:


Australian consumers had no entitlement to any refunds from EB Games for Fallout 76 games when downloadable content (DLC) or “˜one use codes’ were redeemed or used;

Australian consumers had no entitlement to any refunds from EB Games for Fallout 76 games outside of the EB Games’ “˜7 day satisfaction guarantee’;

Australian consumers had no entitlement to refunds when the developers or publishers of the Fallout 76 game were providing patches; and/or

EB Games had modified or restricted statutory consumer guarantees/warranties in relation to Fallout 76 games purchased by Australian consumers.

EB Games acknowledges that its conduct is likely to have misled certain Australian consumers about their rights under the ACL in connection with the statutory consumer guarantees and is likely to have contravened sections 18 and 29(1)(m) of the ACL.

The launch of Fallout 76 was beset with all kinds of problems. Players had to deal with campsites that kept breaking, supremely restrictive inventory limits, poor optimisation at launch, glitched Power Armour suits, and a bug on the official support page exposing users’ personal information.

And that wasn’t even the biggest controversy. The Power Armour special edition of the game promoted a canvas duffel bag, but when users received their goods, they found a low-quality nylon bag instead. Replacements for those were finally sent out several months after the game’s launch.

Fallout 76 has since come a long way, and the Wastelanders update has left the game in a much better place. But the whole saga has served to remind global publishers that if you release a game with substantial problems at release, Australian customers are entitled to refunds, whether or not they’re buying from a server in North America, or a physical store in a Melbourne mall.

The ACCC has this advice for anyone who was refused a refund by EB Games:

Consumers who are eligible for a refund from EB Games because they were denied a refund should contact EB Games before 1 August 2020 by emailing the EB Games Customer Service Centre at [email protected] to request a refund.

Consumers who accept a refund will lose their entitlement to access and play the game.

Comments

  • How can the ACCC compel a foreign company to offer refunds?

    Do they do it just to avoid bad PR?

    • By foreign company are you referring to Bethesda? That’s kind of EB’s problem. We only need to care about the side of things where an Australian company was misrepresenting consumer law to customers in order to avoid having to deal with that.

      • Yes, Bethesda or the parent company Zenimax. Did you read the article past the headline? It was mentioned several times and impacts people who bought it online etc.

        • Bethesda’s store sells games in Australia dollars with Australia specific prices. That goes a bit beyond just having an online store that Australians can coincidentally make purchases from. The company also likely has some sort of Australian presence responsible for distributing the physical copies of their games to retail.

          Combine this with the threat of not being able to do further business in Australia, and most companies will comply with our laws.

          • Even if it isn’t in AUD, if they accept purchases from Australia then they’re selling to Australians and have to abide by our laws. Steam tried the “only US dollars” thing and that failed miserably for them.

          • Valve’s argument wasn’t helped by them charging different prices to Australian customers, and selling wallet top up cards at Australian bricks and mortar retail stores…

    • they probably point at the $3 Million dollar fine Steam got for misrepresenting consumer rights.

    • Generally a business like this would have registrations for various business uses in Australia. ABN’s, TFN’s, that sort of thing. They need them to collect, claim, and/or pay taxes and the like. With GST for example, the registration requirements state “connected to Australia” which would apply due to them selling copies to EB.

      Those registrations would have contacts and details that would give avenues to pursue these sorts of things. Thats just one way, which in a nutshell means they wouldnt be going after Zenimax International, but Zenimax Australia. Which generally are the same people, but legally separate.

      Its not as hard as people think to compel them to do this sort of thing.

    • The act of buying it selling goods or services in Australia (wholesale, retail, import or export), as a business or to an individual consumer in Australia, is therefore by engaging in the transaction is subject to all the laws of Australia. All laws.

    • The ACCC can prohibit a foreign company from doing business in Australia and seize any local assets of the company to pay for any fines levied against them (pissing off the ACCC can lead to multimillion dollar fines if you are big enough). Zenimax is a huge company and losing the Australian market will make a dent in their bottom line if they can no longer do business here.

      Heck, the ACCC has enough clout to force Valve into offering refunds on Steam in Australia and Valve ended up enabling refunds world-wide (and Origin/Uplay followed suit without having the ACCC force them into it).

    • If they are selling the game to Australians, in or from Australia, they are obligated to comply with Aussie consumer law.

      They can’t take our money and deny us our rights. That’s the foreign companies’ “buy-in” to sell to us.

      • Sure they can. I’m just asking about if it’s enforceable. I doubt you’d be able to argue a case about ACCC laws with a dispute on something like alibaba but they’ll happily sell to you.

        • Every company has to follow Australian law if they want to do business in Australia. Like how an Australian business needs to follow the US law if it wants to do business in the US…

          • Patreon hasn’t been following the law up until now with collecting GST and they’ve had no issues.

          • You might not have kept up with TOS as Patreon has started to apply these taxes GST included.

            I assume most of the behind the scenes tax agreements are finally in place to compel Patreon.

    • You know that lovely “local laws apply” caveat when you choose to do business in a country?

      Who would have thought a government body can actually use that clause!

      • I set up an online store on my home server and offer gamer man bath water. Someone from the Maldives buys some then wants a refund based on Maldivian law. I say no.

        How can the Maldives compel me to make the refund?

        This is what I am asking. Everyone is just parroting the local laws stuf.

        • Most governments have tax agreements in place with countries they do comercial business with to usually allow the local tax agencies to compel a business to abide by that overseas countries local tax and law (in this instance australia). This is an incredibly watered down general explanation… feel free to ask a friendly corporate tax consutant if you want specifics

          Now if you were a dodgy website without an abn then thats on the customer for not doing due diligence purchasing dodgy products. If you are a legal business however you will most likely be breaking tax and commercial agreements which mean severe penalties as a business and taxation

          • Thanks for being the only person to actually answer the question. I did not know how that worked and this makes sense.

          • No problems! 😀

            Though I think the reason most people and myself didnt answer was your original post properly was because it seemed more like a your first post was a troll reply than an actual honest question xD

          • I mean someone replied directly and I then replied directly to them implying I was interested in discussions or whatever. But I can also see that it was a pretty quick and short post, which is often seen from a half assed troll.

    • They can offer refunds or be barred from trading in an entire 1st world country. 99.99% of companies would choose to comply with the law as the loss of profit (future and current) would hugely outway the cost of refunds for a single product.

    • It’s kinda like when people sentenced to go to jail don’t go to jail. Things just get much much worse for them.

    • Quite easily. A overseas company still has to abide by the country they sell too rules. Otherwise they would not be allowed to operate in that country.

      • I can make a website and sell stuff worldwide with impunity. I do not have to abide by any of the laws because I am not operating in the other country at all. I can get an ABN and do it as a business as well with no problems.

  • I’m still curious how this goes. You return the game, get the refund, but you’ve still used the code? So you still own the game… so you essentially get a free game? Right?

    • That’s a problem for EB Games to sort out with Bethesda. That said, if the store platform the code is for allows you to permanently delete purchases from your library, they could presumably ask for evidence that you’ve done so.

      • Indeed. I’m not denying the right to get a refund. I applaud it. But I also respect the right for the retailer to receive back a somewhat usable product? i.e. a keycode that isn’t logged with someones product? I have *no* clue how that could be done though. But still, it’s good this ruling has been made and the people in charge have no way of enforcing it. Although, I do have a feeling they may be asked to send all registration codes back to Bethesda possibly and they may end up deactivated at some point?

        • The retailer will need to factor the risk of refunds into their price structure. It might make sense to have their suppliers warrant that their product is free of major defects and that they will work to patch minor defects, as a way to recover some of the losses.

          Note that in most non video game cases, a product refunded under the “major defect” clause of the ACL probably wouldn’t be fit to resell anyway. This is quite different to “change of mind” refunds, where it makes sense to require the returned product be fit to resell.

        • im no expert. but if they can say G2A has been selling stolen keys, then we must assume there is some form of record of the keys. and whilst most publishers/developers (not sure who is in charge of them) dont want to fuck over the end recipient, they are presumed to have a list.
          so with all the fallout 76 refunds, we can assume (but without them telling us otherwise, only assume) that they are banning the keys of the returned product.

    • No your game access will be revoked. Codes aren’t physical products and more can be made incredibly easily. EB would probably be able to return the product to the company. And zenimax would probably eat the loss.
      EB gets a fine for misleading consumers though.

      • I’m hoping so. Surely a condition of return of product should be that you supply them your keycode?

    • Well technically the keys get deactivated.

      So should you try to run the game again on steam it will ask for a valid key again.

  • and a bug on the official support page exposing users’ personal information.

    Whoah! The glitches went all the way into the real world, too??

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