Ea has agreed to change its refund policy on Origin in Australia. The ACCC (Australian Competition Consumer Commission) has been receiving complaints about Origin’s terms and conditions since 2012, which told consumers they were not entitled to any refunds for digital games purchased through the platform under any circumstances. Ever.
The ACCC released a statement yesterday saying it believes Origin’s terms and conditions to be unfair. “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.”
Remember when Sim City launched? Remember how the ludicrous DRM meant the game wouldn’t start? That sounds a lot like a “major failure”, yet EA said they would not be issuing any refunds for the game. At that time, the ACCC was warning EA that this was against Australian consumer law. EA ignored them.
This time around though, EA has agreed with the statement and is in the process of creating a new consumer redress program which will allow their Australian customers to request a refund for any faulty title purchased since January 2012.
In a prepared statement, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said, “Businesses such as EA selling digitally downloadable goods cannot avoid their responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law just because they are located outside of Australia.” Digital stores are notorious for flouting laws that require them to issue refunds, and not just in Australia. Origin’s terms and conditions are actually fairly generous compared to Steam’s.
EA’s PR-drenched response to Kotaku was, “We’re pleased to have worked cooperatively with the ACCC to resolve the ACCC’s concerns and ensure our players in Australia have the best possible experience when purchasing and playing EA games… In addition to rights available to our players under the Australian Consumer Law, we are also proud to offer our global, industry-leading Great Game Guarantee that allows for digital returns within certain timeframes if anyone is not satisfied with a digitally-downloaded game from EA. (see this post on Origin for further details).”
It’s worth noting a few things here. First, although this ruling really only affects Australian customers, it does set a sort of precedent that courts or legal bodies in other countries can follow. And second, with this success against EA, the ACCC and other consumer watchdogs can set their sights on the big target – Steam. With any luck, the days of online retailers flouting consumer laws are numbered.