Sony Europe Hit with $2.4 Million Penalty for Illegal Refund Policy in Australia

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Sony Europe Hit with $2.4 Million Penalty for Illegal Refund Policy in Australia

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has successfully sued Sony Europe for 3.5 million Australian dollars ($2.4 million) for noncompliance with Australian Consumer Law (ACL) rights with its PlayStation game return policy, Australia’s federal court ruled Friday.

The ACCC launched the allegations in May 2019, citing that PlayStation’s policy of no refunds for digital games nor for physical games 14 days after purchase did not comply with Australia’s laws.

“Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would if they made the purchase at a physical store,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said. “No matter where in the world a company has its headquarters, if it is selling to Australian consumers, the Australian Consumer Law applies.”

The key word brought up often in the ACCC’s posts is “faulty,” as Australian consumers are entitled to a return if the product fits that description. But what exactly does “faulty” mean? Does it mean the game won’t start, crashes to the point where the game can’t progress, has a few unsavory glitches, or is just subjectively unenjoyable? It’s hard to say, but Australian lawyers have evidently determined that Sony’s return policy at the time violated the country’s law.

“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,” Sims said.

As of April 2019, consumers can get a refund on digital PlayStation games if they haven’t downloaded them within 14 days of purchase, but the ACCC was still able to sue Sony Europe for the previous violation, and since apparently the “14 day” window doesn’t fly in Australia either.

With this case potentially setting a precedent for videogame return policies in Australia, it’ll be interesting to see if the other two major console manufacturers, Nintendo and Microsoft, will next receive the wrath of the ACCC.

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