SYDNEY (Reuters) – Global video game company Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Ltd broke Australian consumer law by telling customers they could not get a refund for faulty PlayStation games, Australia’s consumer watchdog said in a lawsuit.
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.
The technology giant also told customers it could not provide refunds unless the game developer, a separate entity, confirmed the product was irreparably faulty, the regulator said.
When Sony did agree to a refund, it told customers it could do so only with store credits rather than cash, it added.
“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 in a statement.
“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.”
A Sony representative in Australia was not immediately available for comment and Sony did not immediately respond to a Reuters inquiry lodged in a form on its website.
The ACCC did not specify what damages it was seeking with the lawsuit, but said the PlayStation vendor put “practical impediments in the way of Australian users seeking to obtain refunds” by referring their complaints to game developers.
In one case cited in the court filing, in October 2017 a Sony customer support person told an Australian who had asked for a refund for the game “Aven Colony”, that “we can’t actually issue that refund”.
“Not that we don’t want to. We can’t. Only the game developer can give us permission to refund it once the game has been downloaded,” the person said, according to the filing.
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”.
“It’s not actually a game. It’s a licence for a game, and we buy that from the publisher,” the person was quoted as saying.
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Stephen Coates)