Sony Fined $3.5 Million for Misleading Australian PlayStation Users

Sony Europe has been fined $3.5 million AUD after its Sony Australia branch was found to be [...]

Sony Europe has been fined $3.5 million AUD after its Sony Australia branch was found to be misleading customers about their consumer rights, according to new reports from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The ACCC shared an announcement about the decision and said Sony Europe made "false and misleading representations" on its site when dealing with Australian consumers that misled PlayStation users in regards to how their Australian Consumer Law rights protected them. The issue resulting in the $3.5 million fine originated from "misleading representations" from Sony Europe support staff after four users were told Sony wasn't required to give them a refund in certain circumstances.

The ACCC's release about the matter outlined the situation that led to the fine. Four individuals were told by Sony support staff that Sony Europe didn't have to refund what the individuals claimed to be faulty games if the games had already been downloaded or if at least 14 days had passed since the initial purchase.

Rod Sims, the chair of the ACCC, refuted that idea and said consumer guarantee rights don't expire after downloads or arbitrary dates.

"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.

That broad refuting of Sony's discussions with the four individuals was followed by more instances the ACCC said were misleading. One of the individuals was told Sony Europe didn't have to give them a refund unless the developer of the game authorized the decision. Another fifth user was told Sony Europe could refund them with virtual PlayStation currency instead of actual money.

"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," Sims continued.

Sims closed the message by saying those who purchase their digital products online have the same protections as those who would've bought them instead in a physical store. Regardless of where a company is headquartered, Sims said, selling to Australian consumers means the Australian Consumer Law is applicable to the transactions.

To resolve the matter, the ACCC said Sony Europe "admitted liability and made joint submissions to the Federal Court" alongside the ACCC. Sony Europe also contributed to the ACCC's legal costs regarding the matter.