Digital purchases are the same as physical purchases according to consumer regulator.
Sony Europe has been ordered to pay $3.5 million in penalties after the federal court found them to have breached Australian Consumer Law.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began proceedings against Sony Interactive Entertainment Network Europe Limited (Sony Europe) in May 2019, alleging that Sony Europe misled Australian Consumers about their entitlement to refunds.
Representatives from Sony’s customer service team told four consumers they were not required to refund faulty games once they had been downloaded or if 14 days had passed since purchase.
“Consumer 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,” said ACCC Chair Rod Sims.
One of the four consumers was also told Sony Europe did not have to provide a refund unless the game developer authorised it.
Sims said this was false information that does not reflect Australian consumers' rights afforded to them under Australian Consumer Law.
A fifth consumer was offered a refund in the form of virtual PlayStation currency instead of 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,” he said.
Between October 2017 and May 2019, it was implied in Sony Europe’s Terms of Service that users had no consumer guarantee rights regarding quality,functionality, completeness, accuracy, or performance of their purchased digital games.
“Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would if they made the purchase at a physical store,” said Sims.
Sony Europe is based in the UK and is responsible for the PlayStation Network Terms of Service, which Australian consumers agree to when creating a PlayStation account.
“No matter where in the world a company has its headquarters, if it is selling to Australian consumers, the Australian Consumer Law applies,” said Sims.