Sony has been fined $3.5 million AUD in Australia over its PlayStation Store refund policy.
Sony Europe, which Sony Australia is a part of, has been fined $3.5 million AUD ($2.4 million USD/£1.9 million) this week by the Australian Competition And Consumer Commission (ACCC) for misleading customers regarding its PlayStation Store refund policy.
According to reports, the ACCC found Sony Interactive Entertainment Network Europe Limited, known as Sony Europe, guilty of misleading four customers who complained to the tech giant after they purchased games they described as “faulty”.
Sony reportedly informed the customers that they were not entitled to refunds as its policy, which violates the Australian Consumer Law, states that refunds are not credited once a game has been downloaded or if 14 days had passed after it was purchased.
ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement: “Consumer guarantee rights do not expire after a 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.”
The ACCC Findings
The ACC states that Sony Europe further breached the Australian Consumer Law after it reportedly told a customer that it wasn’t required to give a refund unless it was authorised by the game developer, and told another customer that refunds can only be given as PlayStation Store credit, not real money.
Speaking about the violations, Sims said: “What Sony told these customers was false and does not reflect the consumer guarantee rights afforded to Australian consumers under the Australian Consumer Law.
“Consumers can obtain a repair, replacement or refund directly for products with a major fault from sellers and cannot simply be sent to a product developer. Refunds under the consumer guarantees must also be given in cash or money transfer if the consumer originally paid in one of those ways, unless the consumer chooses to receive store credit.”
According to ACCC, Sony Europe’s Terms of Services between October 2017 and May 2019 implied that users did not have consumer guarantee rights regarding the functionality, completeness, accuracy, quality, and performance of digital games bought via the PlayStation Store. The ACCC stated this is false as the guarantees cannot be modified, excluded or restricted.
Sims said: “Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would if they made the purchase at a physical store. No matter where in the world a company has its headquarters, if it is selling to Australian consumers, the Australian Consumer Law applies.”
The ACCC reports that Sony admitted liability and has vowed to contribute to the ACCC’s legal costs.
The news comes after the ACCC ordered EB Games, which is owned by Australian games retailer Gamestop, to issue refunds to customers who had bought Bethesda’s Fallout 76 and were initially refused refunds by the store.