Sony Fined $3.5 Million By Australian Court For Misleading PlayStation Players

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Sony Fined $3.5 Million By Australian Court For Misleading PlayStation Players
Photo: Patrick Kovarik, Getty Images

Australia’s Federal Court announced today that it’s ordering Sony to pay $3.5 million in fines for breaking the country’s consumer law by misleading people about video game refunds.

“Between October 2017 and May 2019, Sony Europe’s Terms of Service implied that users did not have consumer guarantee rights regarding the quality, functionality, completeness, accuracy or performance of their purchased digital games,” reads a press release on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website. “This was false as these guarantees cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.”

According to the court’s ruling, Sony Europe made four players in Australia think they only had 14 days to return a digital game and even then could only get a refund if it was authorised by the game developer who made it. A fifth person, meanwhile, was apparently told by Sony Europe that their refund had to be in currency on the PlayStation store rather than getting the money back outright.

“Consumer guarantee rights do not expire after ad digital product has been downloaded and certainly do not disappear after 14 days or any other arbitrary date claimed by a game store or developer,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement. “What Sony told these consumers was false and does not reflect the consumer guarantee rights afforded to Australian consumers.”

Back in 2016 Valve was hit with a similar set of fines by Australia’s Federal Court for misleading Steam users about refunds between 2011 and 2014. Steam’s current refund policy, which is quite straightforward and easy to use, didn’t go into effect until 2015. While video game companies’ policies around digital game refunds have slowly been improving, they still vary a lot, with players often at the mercy of their own country’s consumer laws.

Earlier this year, a European court sided with Nintendo, saying the company did not need to allow refunds even on digital game preorders.

Comments

  • “$US3.5 ($5) million in fines (approximately $US2,445,00 ($352,395) in U.S. dollars)”

    Come again?

  • Yeah, badly written American copypasta throughout, but seriously, what is “with players often at the mercy of their own country’s consumer laws” supposed to mean?

    Comes across to me a bit like those silly overseas counties with their weirdfangled anti-capitalist ideas about consumers not being ripped off do a bunch of weird shit that we have trouble relating to here in the good old U S of A, but is probably wrong because if it was right we would have done it first.

    It’s almost written as if the laws themselves (or lack thereof) are at fault for leaving consumers in a hole, as opposed to the (mostly American) companies whose default position has been no refunds ever under any circumstance, games as service, your license can be revoked at any time for any reason depending on what mood took us when we got up in the morning, blah blah blah.

    A better phrasing would be “with players often at the mercy of shitty game publishers unless they’re lucky enough to live in a country that gives a toss about consumer rights”.

    • The article also makes it sound like the $3.5 million fine was for misleading 5 customers, rather than those 5 customer stories being evidence of widespread misconduct.

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