Electronic Arts (EA) has provided the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with a court-enforceable undertaking, acknowledging that representations it made to consumers regarding refund rights via its Origin video game distribution service were likely to have breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).The ACCC, which raised the issue with EA following complaints received from early 2012, stated it was concerned EA had “made statements through the terms and conditions on Origin and through its customer support representatives that were likely to have conveyed false or misleading representations”.
The representations were to the effect that Australian consumers were not entitled to any refunds for digitally downloaded video games purchased through Origin, and that EA had modified or restricted consumer guarantees in relation to games purchased by Australian consumers through Origin.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said businesses such as EA selling digitally downloadable goods cannot avoid their responsibilities under the ACL “just because they are located outside of Australia”.
“If you sell to consumers in Australia, then the Australian Consumer Law applies to all goods or services you supply,” Sims stated. “This includes all of the ACL consumer guarantees, which cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.
“It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that customers are not entitled to refunds under any circumstances. Where a product has a major failure, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their choice. Representations that this right has or can be excluded, restricted or modified are false or misleading.”
The undertaking will see EA implement a consumer redress program.
Any consumer who purchased a faulty video game through Origin after 1 January 2012 who wishes to seek redress should contact EA to have their claim assessed, and if they have already been denied a refund or remedy, they can have their claim reassessed.
A 1800 complaints number will be set up by EA, along with an email address and a post office box, to handle customer complaints and enquiries.
EA has undertaken that for a period of three years it will not make any representation to an Australian consumer that EA has a “no refunds” policy for games purchased through Origin that excludes any right to a refund under the ACL, and/or that Australian consumers are not entitled, under any circumstances, to a refund for games purchased from Origin.
EA will also amend its terms and conditions to comply with the ACL and implement and maintain an ACL compliance program, with particular measures for risk assessment, complaints handling and staff training.