Sony Europe, of which Sony Australia is a branch, has today faced charges from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for misleading customers about their consumer rights.
The Australian Federal Court has hit Sony with $ 3.5 million AU (approximately $ 2.4 million) on penalty charges “making false and misleading statements on its website and in dealings with Australian consumers about its Rights to Consumers of Australia (ACL)”.
The court found that Sony Europe had cheated on four customers after they bought games described as “flawed” through the PlayStation Network. Sony informed customers that they were not entitled to a refund if the game had been downloaded or if 14 days had elapsed since the purchase, which is not in line with Australian consumer law.
Proceedings for this case began a year ago, and there is a precedent for similar cases in Australia, such as the 2014 case against Valve.
In a statement, ACCC President Rod Sims claimed that Sony gave customers false advice.
“Consumer warranty 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,” he said. “Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights that they would have if they made the purchase in a physical store.”
Additionally, Sony Europe is said to have violated Australian law by telling one customer that only the game developer could authorize a refund, and another that they were only entitled to a refund in the form of digital store credit. “Refunds under consumer guarantees must also be in cash or money transfer if the consumer originally paid in one of those ways, unless the consumer elects to receive store credit,” said Sims.
The game or games are not specified. In May, the ACCC ordered Australian retailer EB Games to refund customers who had purchased Fallout 76 at launch and were then unable to return it; it is not clear if the two cases are related.
Sony Europe will have to pay some of the legal costs of the ACCC as part of the charges.
Sony is set to reveal the PlayStation 5 soon, but the reveal scheduled for this week has been delayed after the death of George Floyd.