The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) is going after Sony over claims that the PlayStation company made “false or misleading statements” to Australian gamers in regards to refunds. Specifically, the ACCC said in a statement that it takes issue with Sony Europe’s statement in September 2017 that the company was not required to provide refunds for downloaded games, or if two weeks had passed since the purchase.
“Sony Europe also allegedly told consumers it did not have to provide refunds unless the game developer told the consumer the game was irreparably faulty or otherwise authorized a refund. It also told consumers that it could provide refunds using virtual PlayStation currency instead of money,” the ACCC’s statement continues.
The ACCC says these claims are “false or misleading.” Under Australian Consumer Law, consumers are entitled to a refund, repair, or replacement “if a product is faulty because it is not of acceptable quality, is not fit for purpose or does not match descriptions made by the businesses, depending on the seriousness of the fault.” Sony is running afoul to this with its refund policy, the ACCC says.
“We allege that Sony Europe gave false and misleading information to their customers about their rights in relation to games sold via its PlayStation Store,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement. “Consumer guarantees do not expire after a digital product has been downloaded as we allege Sony Europe told consumers, and refunds must be given in the form of original payment unless a consumer chooses to receive it in store credit.”
He added: “Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would at a physical store. Sony Europe’s alleged conduct may have caused Australian consumers to not seek a refund, replacement or repair for a faulty game when the Australian Consumer Law gave them a right to do so.”
Further still, the ACCC says Sony Europe made a statement in October 2017 that its own liability to provide a refund for faulty products was “limited,” but the ACCC says this is not true. According to Australian Consumer Law, all businesses that operate in Australia must comply. This is the same argument that the ACCC used against Valve over that company’s refund policy. Valve ended up paying a $3 million fine related to the ACCC’s campaign, and a notice is now posted on Steam’s Australian store that outlines the refund policy.
“No matter where in the world a company has its headquarters, if it is selling to Australian consumers, the Australian Consumer Law applies,” Sims said.
The ACCC is demanding that Sony make good to consumers with “pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, correctives, and costs.”
You can read the full complaint against Sony here on the ACCC’s website [PDF]. This action comes amid rumors of Sony preparing to officially announce the PlayStation 5.