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German consumer association warns Sony over "customer-hostile" PSN terms and conditions

Sony could face legal action if it fails to heed complaints

Sony could face legal action in Germany after the Consumer Association of North Rhine-Westphalia (Verbraucherzentrale NRW) filed a complaint regarding the terms and conditions of PlayStation Network.

In a cease and desist letter reportedly sent to Sony, the Verbraucherzentrale NRW found three areas in which the terms and conditions of PSN were "incompatible with the law".

First and foremost is the "customer-hostile" policy regarding prepaid credit on the platform, which expires after 24 months if left unspent.

Additionally, the Verbraucherzentrale NRW has complained about the clause which finds parents accountable for any costs incurred by their underage children spending money on in-game purchases.

Finally, criticism has been levelled against Sony's policy governing a consumer's right of withdrawal. The Verbraucherzentrale NRW found that there is no indication that customers must explicitly agree to forgo this right when completing digital purchases.

The Verbraucherzentrale NRW confirmed that it will apply for a court order if the cease and desist is not heeded.

Sebastian Schwiddessen, an associate with multinational law firm Baker McKenzie said: "This is common practice. German consumer associations typically have deep pockets and pursue alleged violations until the highest possible court level.

"Thus, companies must either stop using the criticized clauses or be ready to defend them in court. It is therefore recommended that video gaming companies review their T&Cs at least in relation to the above-mentioned examples and assess whether their clauses are defensible or should be amended/removed."

This is not the first time Sony has been called out for the terms and conditions of PSN. In April the Norwegian Consumer Council filed a similar complaint regarding the right of withdrawal against Sony, Origin, and Steam. The complaints were later dropped however.

A Sony spokesperson told GamesIndustry.biz they are be unable to comment on the issue.

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