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 Federal Court of Australia has hit Sony with $3.5 million in penalty charges “making false and misleading representations on its website and in dealings with Australian consumers about their Australian Consumer Law (ACL) rights.”
The court found that Sony Europe had misled four customers after they purchased games described as “faulty” 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 has passed since purchase, which is not in line with Australian consumer laws.
Proceedings for this case began one year ago, and there’s precedent for similar cases in Australia, such as the 2014 case against Valve.
In a statement, ACCC chair Rod Sims asserted that Sony gave customers false advice. “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,” he said. “Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would if they made the purchase at a physical store.”
Furthermore, Sony Europe is said to have breached Australian law by telling one customer that only the game’s developer could authorize a refund, and another that they were only entitled to a refund in the form of digital store credit. “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,” Sims stated.
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 then found themselves unable to return it–it is unclear if the two cases are related.
Sony Europe will be made to pay some of the ACCC’s legal costs as part of the charges.
Sony is set to reveal the PlayStation 5 soon, but the reveal scheduled for this week has been delayed following the murder of George Floyd.