Sony Europe, a unit of Japan's Sony Corp, violated Australian consumer law by telling customers it did not have to give them refunds for faulty games that had been downloaded, or more than 14 days since purchase, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in a court filing made public on Wednesday.
Australian consumer law states that "you are entitled to return a product if you believe that there is a problem", and given the shoddy state of some games that have been released recently that law could apply.
Additionally, refunds have to be given in the form of original payment unless the customer chooses to receive it in store credit.
Australian consumers agree to this policy in the terms of service when signing up for and using a PlayStation account.
The company is also claimed to have to have told consumers there was no need to provide refunds unless the developer of a game told the consumer the game was faulty or authorised a refund.
"We allege that Sony Europe gave false and misleading information to their customers about their rights in relation to games sold via its PlayStation Store", ACCC chair Rod Sims said via a statement.
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Australian Consumer Law stipulates that consumers have the right to a refund, fix or replacement if the product is faulty because it's of an unacceptable quality, isn't fit for objective, or doesn't match the descriptions made by the business.
In another case the same month, a Sony support person allegedly told a customer who wanted to return the game "Hitman", that there was "actually no way for us to refund it".
The watchdog is seeking pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, correctives and costs.
Given there's a precedent for this kind of thing now, I'd say we'll get a similar outcome with Sony, but they are a much larger company with way more resources, so I guess we'll see what happens. It is responsible for the content available at the PlayStation Australia website www.playstation.com/en-au.
The ACCC is making the case that Sony Europe's representations didn't reflect consumer guarantee rights afforded to Australian customers under Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC fined Valve AU$3 million in April, 2018 for nearly exactly the same issue in relation to its Steam marketplace, the popular PC gaming storefront. According to Australian Consumer Law, all businesses that operate in Australia must comply.