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Australian court fines Sony $2.4 million for misrepresenting consumer rights

Today the European branch of Japanese conglomerate Sony Interactive Entertainment was penalized $3.5 million AU - or $2.4 million US - by the Federal Court of Australia. The fine has been issued as a result of allegations made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) back in May 2019.

According to the case presented by the ACC last year, Sony Europe infringed the rights of Australians customers as per the Australian Consumer Law when it introduced its new terms and conditions for the PlayStation Store in September 2017. The news terms prevented customers from getting refunds on games two weeks after purchase or once they had been downloaded.

Four customers in specific were informed over the phone by Sony employees that they could not issue a refund unless approved by the game's developer, while a separate customer was offered PlayStation Store credit instead of a proper return of the fiscal amount charged.

Rod Sims, Chair of the ACCC, commented on this matter:

"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. What Sony told these consumers was false and does not reflect the consumer guarantee rights afforded to Australian consumers under the Australian Consumer Law.

Consumers can obtain a repair, replacement or refund directly for products with a major fault from sellers and cannot simply be sent to a product developer. 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."

When the legal proceedings were pressed by the ACCC in May last year, Sony Europe changed its terms of service. But of course, as the damage was already done and Australian consumers were denied their rights as per the nation's law, the case continued.

Today's court decision acknowledges the events that conspired and found fault with Sony Europe, thereby charging the company the sizable $2.4 million fine. On its part, Sony has accepted blame by agreeing to pay the penalty.

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