Video gaming company Sony Europe will face court in Australia over allegations it refused to refund customers who bought faulty games through its PlayStation online store.
- The ACCC alleges Sony Europe told consumers it didn’t have to provide refunds if games had been downloaded
- Under Australian Consumer Law, if an item has a major fault, a customer can choose a refund or a replacement
- ACCC chair Rod Sims says customers buying digital products online have the same rights as in a physical store
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has brought proceedings against the company in the Federal Court after receiving complaints from Australian gamers.
“Given it’s in relation to the Sony PlayStation, which is of course a really popular item, we took them very seriously and got evidence from a number of Australian consumers, and that’s the basis of the court case,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims.
While Sony Europe is an overseas company, Mr Sims emphasised that it is still responsible for complying with Australian regulations.
“No matter where a company is located in the world, if you’re selling to Australian consumers, Australian Consumer Law applies.”
The allegations include that Sony Europe made false and misleading representations by telling customers it did not have to provide refunds for faulty games if it had been 14 days since the purchase or if games had been downloaded.
“You could well argue, how do you know the good is faulty until you download it?” said Mr Sims.
“If the good has a major fault, you’re entitled to a refund or a replacement and it’s your choice which of those two you get.”
One customer cited in the ACCC’s case purchased the game Aven Colony but, when they sought a refund, PlayStation support representatives referred them to the game developer.
“The obligation to make sure you get your consumer guarantee rights is with the company that sold it to to you — and we allege that’s Sony, and therefore Sony are liable to make good on the consumer guarantees, they can’t pass it back to the upstream supplier of the game,” said Mr Sims.
Another customer sought a refund for a faulty LEGO PlayStation game but the money was returned to their ‘PlayStation wallet’ rather than their bank account.
The ACCC said refunds must be given in the original payment form, unless the customer chooses a store credit.
“Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would at a physical store,” Mr Sims said.
The Sony Europe proceedings follow the ACCC’s successful court case against gaming company Valve, which runs the Steam platform.
The Valve case found games sold online to Australian consumers were subject to the Australian Consumer Law despite it being a US-based company.
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