The Australian Federal Court ruled against Sony, as the tech giant received heavy fines for denying its customers refunds and misleading them over their rights.
Sony Australia—which is a part of Sony Europe—found itself at the receiving end of some hefty fines enforced by the Australian Competition And Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Australia’s Federal Court slapped the Japanese tech company with a massive AU$3.5 million fine for “false and misleading representations on its website and in dealings with Australian consumers about their Australian Consumer Law (ACL) rights,” as stated on the ACCC website.
After misrepresenting PlayStation gamers' consumer guarantee rights on its website and in dealings with consumers, Sony Europe has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay $3.5 million in penalties. Read more here: https://t.co/fkQt7Iy9Dt pic.twitter.com/rNhqIDt9ai
— ACCC (@acccgovau) June 5, 2020
The story behind Sony’s huge penalty
Four Australian consumers called Sony’s customer service hotline complaining about purchased PlayStation games they deemed to be faulty.
Sony’s representative explained that the tech company was not obligated to provide the disgruntled customers with a refund if 14 days had passed since the game was purchased, or if the title had already been downloaded on the console.
“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,” explained ACCC Chair Rod Sims.
So one thing Australia has going for it is really good consumer law, and we relatively routinely see companies getting in trouble for not offering refunds on games, just happened again with Sony.
Steam had to have a disclaimer on their store for a year about refunds after losing
— mimimimimimi (@eldrazimimi) June 5, 2020
To make matters worse, Sony Europe also told the fifth customer that they could issue a refund not in cash, but in PlayStation currency.
According to the ACL, refunds have to be given in cash or money transfer if the customer used one of those two methods to purchase the product or service unless said customer opts for store credit of their own volition.
The ACCC is extremely strict in enforcing the law, which states that products and services offered to Australian consumers is subject to ACL regardless of the company’s main office location.
Valve couldn’t escape Australia’s Consumer Laws either
Valve—the owner of the leading video game digital distribution service Steam—was also hit with a similar fine back in 2016 for misleading representations of customer guarantees, and for having a misleading or false refund policy.
Australia’s Full Federal Court ordered the US-based company to pay a significant AU$3 million fine, which Valve contested. The appeal was dismissed a year later.
— PC Gamer (@pcgamer) April 20, 2018
Furthermore, Valve was required to display a giant banner atop their Steam page for an entire year stating “IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT CONSUMER RIGHTS IN AUSTRALIA.”
Moral of the story? Trying to weasel your way out of Australian Consumer Law is never a good idea.
Image courtesy of Ian Muttoo/Flickr