Sony Europe must shell out $3.5 million in penalty charges because the Federal Court of Australia has charged it with “making false and misleading representations on its website and in dealings with Australian consumers about their Australian Consumer Law (ACL) rights.” (via GameSpot).
Eesh. Oh, and it’s Sony Europe that has been hit with this fine, because Sony Australia is actually a branch of Sony Europe, and the company must pay the Australian Competition And Consumer Commission (ACCC).
So, the court found that Sony Europe had not communicated clearly to four customers after they bought “faulty” games through the PlayStation Network. Sony told these customers that they were not entitled to receive a refund for the faulty game if it had been downloaded to their system, or if 14 days had passed since purchase. This isn’t how Australian consumer laws designate consumer rights, and so there was a minor falling-out over this debacle.
“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,” said Rod Sims, chair of ACCC, in a statement. “Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would if they made the purchase at a physical store.” Additionally, Sony Europe allegedly broke the law by saying that only the game’s developer would be able to authorise a refund, and also saying that the customer would get their 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,” explained Sims.
As well as the $3.5 million fine, Sony Europe will also have to cover a portion of the ACCC’s legal expenses from the proceedings.
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