Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe has been ordered by the Federal Court of Australia to pay $3.5 million AUD in fines for misleading PlayStation Store customers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has ruled that Sony made “false and misleading representations” regarding digital refund policies in the country and hence, needs to be penalized.
The whole incident was sparked last year when Sony refused to refund four Australian customers who bought and downloaded “faulty” games from their regional PlayStation Store. Sony noted at the time that refunds would not be issued after a game has been downloaded or two weeks have passed since the date of purchase.
Taking notice of the matter, the ACCC took the PlayStation company to court because Sony’s refund policy goes against Australian law that states “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.”
In addition to refusing refunds, Sony was also reprimanded by the Federal Court of Australia for informing the consumers that refunds would only be issued by the developer and that refunds would be made with PlayStation Store credit instead of real-world currency. Australian law clearly states that “consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would if they made the purchase at a physical store” and hence, the year-long legal battle has now ended in favor of the ACCC and the four Australian consumers.
No matter where in the world a company has its headquarters, if it is selling to Australian consumers, the Australian Consumer Law applies.
Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe is responsible for the terms of service that Australian consumers must agree when joining the PlayStation Network. The company has admitted liability and will be contributing to the legal cost of the ACCC as well.