Allegations Sony breached consumer law

For PlayStation games.

The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Sony Interactive Entertainment Network Europe Limited (Sony Europe) for making false or misleading representations to Australian consumers on its website and in dealings with Australian customers of its PlayStation online store.

The ACCC alleges that from around September 2017, Sony Europe told consumers seeking a refund for faulty games that it did not have to provide refunds for games that had been downloaded, or if 14 days had passed since purchase. The company is also alleged to have told consumers it did not have to provide refunds unless the game developer told the consumer the game was irreparably faulty or otherwise authorised a refund, or that it could provide refunds using virtual PlayStation currency instead of money.

The ACCC’s case is that these representations are false or misleading, and do not reflect the consumer guarantee rights under Australian Consumer Law.

“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. “Consumer guarantees do not expire after a digital product has been downloaded as we allege Sony Europe told consumers, and refunds must be given in the form of original payment unless a consumer chooses to receive it in store credit.”

Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would at a physical store, he said. “Sony Europe’s alleged conduct may have caused Australian consumers to not seek a refund, replacement or repair for a faulty game when Australian Consumer Law gave them a right to do so.”

The ACCC also alleges that from at least October 2017, Sony Europe told consumers in its Terms of Service that its liability to provide redress for faulty products was limited when this was not true. The Australian Consumer Law applies to all businesses that engage in trade and commerce with Australian consumers, including the supply of digital goods such as games.

“No matter where in the world a company has its headquarters, if it is selling to Australian consumers, the Australian Consumer Law applies,” Sims said.

The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, correctives and costs.

The ACCC has also instituted proceedings against Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Limited (SIEE) in relation to these allegations. SIEE is the parent company of Sony Europe, and is responsible for the content available at the PlayStation Australia website.

In 2018, the High Court affirmed the Full Federal Court’s decision in the ACCC’s case against gaming retailer, Valve Corporation, which found games it sold online to Australian consumers were subject to the Australian Consumer Law despite the company being incorporated in the US.

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