Following a lost case against the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe has been ordered to pay a fine of $3.5 million AU (about $2.4 million USD) by the Australian Federal Court. The core issue concerned the corporation’s PlayStation Store refund policy misleading consumers about their Australian Consumer Law (ACL) rights.
Four customers rested at the heart of the matter, all of whom wanted refunds for faulty purchases. Instead, they were told Sony Europe didn’t have to reimburse them for downloaded games, or if 14 days had passed between the purchase and refund attempt. According to the ACCC, such claims by Sony representatives were a misrepresentation of Australian Consumer Law, which is why the Commission filed a suit against Sony.
In a statement on the matter, ACCC Chair Rod Sims noted, “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 Australian Federal Court also found that Sony Europe defied the ACL when informing one of the four customers that it could only offer a refund if authorized by the game developer. In addition, a Sony Europe service representative told a fifth consumer that a refund could be issued with virtual PlayStation Store funds as opposed to real money. Sims explained Sony’s claims were false and failed to “reflect the consumer guarantee rights afforded to Australian consumers under the Australian Consumer Law.”
The ACCC Chair added,
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.