Sony has been fined by the Australian authorities over it’s PlayStation refund policy. The Australian Federal Court handed Sony Europe a AUD $3.5m / £1.9m fine because it’s digital refund policy was found to be in breach of Australian Consumer Law.
Sony’s policy states that people are not entitled to a refund if a game is downloaded or 14 days after a game is purchased, directly breaching Australian consumer laws.
Furthermore, Sony also told one of the four customers that it didn’t have to give a refund unless the game developer authorised it, and it told a fifth customer that Sony could provide a refund using PlayStation Store credit instead of real-world money.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chair Rod Sims made a statement on the ruling:
“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. What Sony told these consumers was false and does not reflect the consumer guarantee rights afforded to Australian consumers under the Australian Consumer Law. 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. Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would if they made the purchase at a physical store.No matter where in the world a company has its headquarters, if it is selling to Australian consumers, the Australian Consumer Law applies.”
Sony Europe admitted liability, and will also contribute to the ACCC’s legal costs. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Sony has been called out on it’s refund policies. In the UK, Sony was the subject of a BBC Watchdog investigation in 2015 after receiving complaints from PlayStation owners who had struggled to get their money back following fraudulent purchases.