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Sony fined $3.5 million in Australia over digital refund policy

Sony has been fined $3.5 million AUD over its digital refund policy, a result of legal proceedings launched against it by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The fine has been levied as Sony — rather, Sony Interactive Entertainment Network Europe Limited — was found to be making false and misleading representations about digital purchases that contradicted customers’ Australian Consumer Law rights.

The crux of the issue comes from Sony’s refund policy, which denied customers refunds after they’d downloaded a digital game or if 14 days had passed since a game was purchased.

“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,” the ACCC’s Rod Sims said in a statement.

Customer testimonies revealed SIE also told consumers that refunds couldn’t be issued unless authorised by the developer of the title in question, or that refunds could only be issued in PlayStation Store credit rather than Australian currency. The policies described above were in place from 2017 and up to at least September 2019.

“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 added.

The Federal Court ruling broke the $3.5 million AUD fine as follows:

  • $2 million for the Terms of Service representation;
  • $1 million for the Wallet representation;
  • $150,000 for the referral to Publisher Representation;
  • $200,000 for the No Obligation to Refund Representation;
  • $150,000 for the Refund to Wallet representation

Legal action against Valve was started by the ACCC back in 2016, leading to the publisher being fined $3 million AUD for similar transgressions.

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Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for close to fifteen years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.