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Operating Systems PlayStation (Games) Sony The Courts Games

PS3 Owner Refunded For Missing "Other OS" 353

Posted by kdawson
from the making-good dept.
Toxicgonzo writes "Amazon has given a European PS3 owner a 20% refund for removal of the PS3's OtherOS feature. (We recently discussed hacker Geohot's efforts to restore this feature.) The owner cited European law Directive 1999/44/EC — which states that goods must (1) comply with the description given by the seller and possess the same qualities and characteristics as other similar goods, and (2) be fit for the purpose which the consumer requires them and which was made known to the seller at the time of purchase. How many other European PS3 owners will follow suit? If Amazon forwards the bill to Sony, how will Sony respond?"
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PS3 Owner Refunded For Missing "Other OS"

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  • Justice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by headkase (533448) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:03AM (#31788844)
    This is justice for anyone who was actually affected by the removal. And feedback for Sony for future decisions.
    • Re:Justice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Coopjust (872796) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:09AM (#31788920)
      Justice for anyone who lives and purchased their console from a European retailer.

      In the US, the best I can probably hope for is a class action in which lawyers will make millions and I'll get a $10 coupon off of a PS3 game.

      And Geohot's hack only works if you are on 3.15 or below, if you're on 3.20 (which has the other OS feature, last firmware to do so), you're out of luck.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by theaveng (1243528)

        Questions about the EU:

        - How come the customer was not required to go to court *first* before getting his refund?

        - What if the retailer had simply said, "No."
        - What would have happened next?

        • Re:Justice (Score:5, Informative)

          by VJ42 (860241) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:35AM (#31789216)

          How come the customer was not required to go to court *first* before getting his refund?

          At least here in the UK, companies don't like ending up in court (even if they're in the right), so threatening them with legal action (just a letter\email citing the relevant legislation is fine; don't need a solicitor.)often gets you something (refund\replacement\money off vouchers etc.). Hell I've even got a replacement phone battery by complaining over the phone (citing the sale of goods act) at some bloke in a call centre half way round the world.

          What if the retailer had simply said, "No." - What would have happened next?

          He could then have taken them to the small claims court.

          • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

            by theaveng (1243528)

            So EU law works similar to US law. An American could do this same thing, cite the relevant law regarding flase advertising of a product, and get a refund. -or- Drag the retailer into small claims court.

            • by VJ42 (860241)

              So EU law works similar to US law. An American could do this same thing, cite the relevant law regarding false advertising of a product, and get a refund. -or- Drag the retailer into small claims court.

              It'll be different in different member states but here in the UK if the retailer offers something and I later find out that they ripped me off (e.g. they only gave me a 10% refund, but I was entitled to a full 100%) I can still drag them back into the small claims court. If they acted fairly, however then they are fine.


              It'll be close the the American system because yours is based on the common law that we invented; I don't know how it works in the rest of Europe, where they are based on the civil law sy

            • Except in the US, the company would fight it first and ask questions later. Sounds like EU is more customer friendly.

              • Re:Justice (Score:4, Insightful)

                by theaveng (1243528) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:49AM (#31790248)

                Or AMAZON is more customer friendly. If you tried this with the EU's version of Walmart, you might be told "no refund" even if the law says you're entitled to one.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            In the UK you possibly wouldn't even need to take them court yourself. Merely report the retailer to Trading Standards (the govt dept for these kind of things for you non-Brits) detailing the advertising for the product at the time of purchase and how you believe the law has been broken and they will do it for you if your claim is valid.

            Not only that, if they are successful they can also order other companies to offer refunds/discounts/compensation should they also have sold the product without those consu

        • I dont normally go to court before getting a refund for things I return to amazon...
        • by jonbryce (703250)

          Because Amazon chose to refund him rather than face a court hearing

          He would have gone to court
          A county court judge / sheriff etc depending on juristiction would decide wether or not a refund was due

        • by jimicus (737525)

          Questions about the EU:

          - How come the customer was not required to go to court *first* before getting his refund?

          Quite often the threat of going to court is enough to make someone pay up.

          - What if the retailer had simply said, "No."
          - What would have happened next?

          The customer would have had to take them to court. Though most European countries have a small claims system expressly designed to be reasonably straightforward for dealing with these things.

        • by MoonBuggy (611105)

          Amazon probably didn't take it to court first because they decided that the 20% refund to one guy was a more financially sensible option than allowing it to generate bad publicity and potentially run up legal fees. Whether they'll change their minds tomorrow when they see 1,000 similar claims is anybody's guess, though.

          I assume that if they'd refused, the next step would've been a small claim in the county court (I know that's the case for issues like this under UK law, but it may differ since it's an EU di

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by iapetus (24050)

          It wasn't a yes/no question. The question was "what is your position on the fact that Sony have removed functionality from the PS3 in a way that EU law appears to hold you liable for?"

          If the retailer had simply said, "Our position is that we don't owe you shit" he would not have taken them to court, and would have reported that this was their position to anyone who was interested. He would then have contacted Trading Standards to ask them whether there was any case against Sony.

        • Re:Justice (Score:5, Informative)

          by SlashBugs (1339813) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:59AM (#31789582)
          I can't speak for the rest of the EU, but in the UK the "fit for purpose" law is a surprisingly powerful bit of pro-consumer legislation. As well as requiring that a product actually does what the manufacturer claims that it does, the law also covers:

          a) Functions that any reasonable person would expect the product to have, based on the advertising but also on similar products on the market. This doesn't obviate the customer's responsibility to do some research, just covers too-obvious-to-check things like if your brand new DVD recorder didn't include a DVD playback function

          b) A robustness and lifespan that any reasonable person would expect the product to have. In the UK, all electrical goods worth more than a certain value (and some other classes of goods) are automatically garuanteed for one year, as part of the customer's statutory rights. But more interestingly, each type of product may also be garuanteed for a longer period based on what seems "reasonable". For example, a washing machine or cooker would be expected to last for several years under regular use before needing replacement or major repairs; if it fails within that timespan the customer can return it (Making those rip-off "extended garuantee" offers doubly useless). Better yet, the onus is on the shop to show that the failure to prove that it was due to your misuse, not you having to prove that it was a poor design or manufacturing defect.

          Surprisingly few people know about these rights, and for good reason. If a product lacks features or develops a major fault too quickly, it's the shop's responsibility to replace the product or offer a refund to the customer; the shop owner is then left with the problem of getting that money back from the manufacturer. As you might imagine, they're not exactly keen to be in this position and so consumers are never told about it.

          If the shop says "no" or tells you that you need to talk to the manufacturer yourself, they're either ignorant or lying. In which case, your next step is to get in touch with the Citizens' Advice Bereau and/or the Trading Standards Office, who are responsible for advising people about and enforcing the relevent laws, respectively.
          • Re:Justice (Score:5, Informative)

            by Nick Ives (317) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:58AM (#31790396)

            In the UK, all electrical goods worth more than a certain value (and some other classes of goods) are automatically garuanteed for one year, as part of the customer's statutory rights

            That should be two years now because of the EU Directive on Consumer Rights. The same directive gives a minimum warranty period of two years but UK law extends that to six [which.co.uk], except for Scotland where it's five.

            Better yet, the onus is on the shop to show that the failure to prove that it was due to your misuse, not you having to prove that it was a poor design or manufacturing defect.

            Actually that's only true for the first six months in the UK or three months (as a minimum) for the rest of the EU. After that you have to show that the fault was present when you originally purchased the item. For most classes of "the damn thing just broke!" that's not too hard though.

            Here's the full directive [europa.eu]; the relevant chapter starts on page 30.

      • Re:Justice (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Zerth (26112) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:33AM (#31789200)

        Speaking of European sales, I wonder if any of the European countries will go after Sony for additional VAT and tariffs because the PS3 is now just a gameplaying machine instead of a "freely programmable general purpose computer".

        • Re:Justice (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:35AM (#31789220)
          I'd like to see that. I've read in several places they only allowed Linux for the EU tax break. I'd like to see Sony have to pay retroactively seeing as how they retroactively removed the feature.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by theaveng (1243528)

            Why does Sony keep frakking up? Did they lay-off the old management in 2005 and replace them with new guys who make dumb decisions?

            - "Yes the PS2 only cost $300 at release, but we believe customers will want to throw-out the PS2 and pay $800 to get a new machine that has the same games but in HD! No we're not worried about the $250 Wii." [Wii is now the #1 seller.]
            -
            - "This firmware won't damage your console." "Ooops guess it did. No you won't get a refund for your broken PS3."
            - "This firmware will turn

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by iapetus (24050)

            You won't see that happen. That was back in the day of the PS2, and as far as I'm aware Sony never actually got away with that claim. Since then the tax rules have changed so that there isn't the same distinction between games consoles and computers, so there's no tax break involved in passing one off as the other.

      • In the US you could certainly claim damage and sue in small claims court. Sony will almost certainly settle (with a gag order to try to keep it from spreading). I've considered it, but honestly I haven't found Linux on my PS3 particularly useful. I'm sure if I upgraded the hard drive and wanted to do extensive video encoding I would but I haven't. I spent a great deal of time tweaking the frame buffer to fill my TV without over scanning, and then never used it again.

        I have decided to return any unopened

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        I'm wondering, is there no way to downgrade back to 3.15?

        • I down loaded the 3.15 update, before 3.21 came out. Supposedly you could upgrade your console back from 3.21 with it using a USB drive. I haven't done the downgrade to 3.21 yet so I don't know if it will work. I'm sure you should be able to Google it and get the 3.15 download somewhere. There was someone in the PS forums who posted a link to a download site he ran... before his post was removed by the moderators.
      • Re:Justice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by The Moof (859402) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:50AM (#31789452)
        I wonder if you could argue that this sets precedent for how much Sony has to shell out to each owner. $80 x 20-30 million owners and I think we'll suddenly get our feature back instead of Sony shelling out the roughly 2 billion dollars.
      • Re:Justice (Score:4, Insightful)

        by theaveng (1243528) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:58AM (#31789572)

        In the US, the best I can probably hope for is a class action in which lawyers will make millions and I'll get a $10 coupon off of a PS3 game

        Not true.

        A US citizen has the same legal protection as an EU citizen, either to demand a refund from sony, or else sue them in court for violating US law.

    • Re:Justice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:12AM (#31788964)

      The issue is it was Amazon that had to pay out not Sony. That being said if Amazon had to pay out to a S*** load of people they'd probably take Sony on. One large corporation taking on another has a better chance then a bunch of Linux geeks, but at best Sony would just have to pay out. I bought my PS3 for the other OS feature and I want to keep it.

      If I had kept the receipt for my PS3 I might go after EB games for a refund. After all Sony took my $800 PS3 "super computer" and turned it into a cheap $150 PS3 Slim. I wonder if Sony re-enables the feature if the guy would have to give the money back?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Blue Stone (582566)

        >If I had kept the receipt for my PS3 I might go after EB games for a refund.

        In the UK, and I guess Europe, you don't need your receipt, just some proof somewhere and somehow that you bought from that company - credit card records, for instance.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by VJ42 (860241)

          >If I had kept the receipt for my PS3 I might go after EB games for a refund.

          In the UK, and I guess Europe, you don't need your receipt, just some proof somewhere and somehow that you bought from that company - credit card records, for instance.

          Not even that, just reasonable expectation that you bought it from the place you're trying to return it. Fox example, if a phone company has an exclusive phone, it's highly likely you bought it from them, so they have to refund\replace even though in theory you could have bought it from someone else who got it from them. The Sale of Goods act is great like that.

          • Fox example, if a phone company has an exclusive phone, it's highly likely you bought it from them

            The PS3 is not exclusive to EB games, it could have come from any of a number of retailers.

      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        Minor correction: Amazon chose to pay out, they didn't have to.

        Now, it's possible that the court would've held Amazon liable anyway, but it hasn't come to that yet, and they may just as well have informed the customer that their case was with Sony instead.

    • Let me get this out of the way: I'm disappointed in Sony for removing this feature. I firmly come down on the side of "this is bullshit"

      However, I think that Amazon paying out for this unit is *also* bullshit. The product did do everything it was advertised to do. You separately agree to an EULA for use of the Playstation Network. Sony can do pretty much whatever it wants regarding that, up to and including terminating the network altogether, so your recourse, in this case, is to give up PSN usage to k

  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:08AM (#31788910) Homepage

    I'm sure a lot of folks would rather see their paid-for features returned than a few dollars back from a retailer.

    • Amazon can't do anything about the lack of a feature, all they can do is refund.
    • by LoudMusic (199347)

      20% is plenty more than a few dollars. If they bought from Amazon when the device was new they paid Euro equivalent of $600 USD, which would be $120 USD back. That's a fair chunk of change - likely more than a day's pay for the vast majority of PS3 owners.

    • by jimicus (737525) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:45AM (#31789366)

      Unfortunately in the UK (and I think most of Europe), sales of goods law covers the contract between retailer and consumer. Not manufacturer.

      Amazon can't (easily) update the firmware of his PS3 to put that feature back again, so their options are pretty limited. The consumer can't get an injunction against Sony to reinstate the feature (because they never had a contract with Sony) and they can't get an injunction against Amazon to reinstate the feature (because it's not physically possible for Amazon to do so).

      Myself, I think this demonstrates a huge flaw in current legislation - business to business sales (which Amazon buying a bunch of PS3s from Sony would come under) have nothing like the same level of protection as business to consumer sales. So if a retailer sells a bunch of products which then have functionality removed remotely by the manufacturer - entirely outside of the retailers control - the retailer winds up being held responsible.

      Note: IANAL.

      • by iapetus (24050) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:49AM (#31789440) Homepage

        I've been doing a lot of reading up on these things recently (I'm the PS3 owner mentioned in the story, and quite embarassed to be front page news on Slashdot when all I actually did was send a mail to Amazon asking them to clarify where they stood on this whole affair) - the relevant EU directive (1999/44/EC) states that where the retailer pays out but the lack of conformity was caused by the producer (or someone else further up the supply chain) the retailer has the right to go after the person responsible for the lack of conformity to get their money back - in this case, Sony. I'm hoping Amazon will end up doing this, because they're not the ones to blame for this.

        • Assuming you're not fibbing about who you are. I think I can speak for a lot of PS3 Linux users and say, "Thank you".

          At the very least I've seen many comments from people saying they're going to do something, but nothing is changing. I know Amazon willingly paid you, but this sets a president and now people who didn't use Linux will probably go after the retailers for money. The retailers can cause much more ruckus then the "small percentage" of us that do use Linux.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by mdm-adph (1030332)

            With a 5-digit userid, you have to admit that if he's lying about who he is, then it's either an amazing coincidence, or he plans his jokes years in advance...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sjames (1099)

        If retailers take a big enough hit over this, they'll go after Sony for it (they DO have a contract with Sony) and they'll tend to drive a much harder bargain with Sony when the next product comes around.

    • I'm sure a lot of folks would rather see their paid-for features returned than a few dollars back from a retailer.

      You can use the refund to buy a PC that contains the paid-for features. Case in point: Even though the Acer Aspire Revo has a fairly weak CPU by gaming standards, it still has an NVIDIA GPU, not a Voodoo3-class Intel GMA or (worse) a dumb frame buffer like that in the PS3 Other OS environment. It also has more RAM than the PS3, so no thrashing swap.

    • I'm sure a lot of folks would rather see their paid-for features returned than a few dollars back from a retailer.

      No. Most people don't care about the feature. But free money would be a welcome thing. Post it to facebook. Tell all your friends -- Get $80 for free, follow the instructions below! That'll fuck 'em long and good. :) Never appeal to the moral high ground when you can get people on board with good old fashioned cash.

  • ...when you actually purchase a product. What a horrific, but seemingly inevitable, solution.

    Gack!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      No EULA will override basic legal principles.
      Judges are rather consistent about the fact some rights just cannot be signed away.

      • by corbettw (214229)

        Does that mean I didn't actually have to give Microsoft my first-born son?

        Don't worry, corbettw jr, I'm coming to get you!

    • Just because its in an EULA doesn't make it right. Imagine if EULA's were gradually introduced for computers themselves and say over 20 years they became a defacto-standard. As the old hardware died off you would be stuck in the EULA without wanting to be there but forced to through network effects. I don't think there should be EULA's required to make hardware work at all because it contains the word License. I don't license my hardware, I buy it. This is a moral distinction.
      • I don't license my hardware, I buy it.

        Then consumer electronic entertainment products will become no longer available for sale. Instead, they are leased to you for 20 years in a contract among you, the retailer, and the manufacturer. Don't like it? Don't buy consumer electronic entertainment products.

    • Maybe I'm misinterpreting what you're trying to say, but an EULA cannot override federal Law. This guy got money back because in the EU you can't sell a product then remove major features that were the advertised at the point of sale. So signing an EULA when the product was bought wouldn't matter, he still would have gotten his money back.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:13AM (#31788980)

    (since this is Slashdot and a story is never complete without a car analogy comment)
    Imagine that you've bought a 4-door car and everything's working great... you take it in to get a winter tuneup or oil change or whatever and the dealer updates the under-the-hood computer so that the back door locks are always engaged and you can no longer open the back doors. You can still use the space, but anyone who wants to sit in the back has to go in through the front and via the inbetween space between the front seats.

    Hows that?
    OK, commentators...start you analogy engines! And respond to this comment with your better/updated car analogies!

    -------------
    TDz.

    • Re:Car analogy. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EasyTarget (43516) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:19AM (#31789052) Journal

      Better analogy:
      You are a nice happy nuclear family, mother, father, three kids.
      You buy a 5 seat car for your family.
      You get a Safety Recall notice, take the car in.
      When it returns it only has 4 seats, the 5th has been removed 'For Safety!'

      • That *is* really close. I'd add one thing. You have the option to keep your fifth seat, but if you do, they'll withold OnStar support.
      • by Joce640k (829181)

        ...except it hasn't been removed for "safety", it's been removed because the manufacturer thinks it looks prettier with only four seats.

    • Re:Car analogy. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:21AM (#31789092) Homepage

      How about this, car co a made this nifty car that could take regular gasoline or diesel all you had to do was flip a switch.

      One day you take it into the shop and the mechanic removes the switch, regular gas only, even though diesel had better than twice the mpg- "company told me to, sorry. Hey, here's a couple bucks for your troubles."

    • OK, I'll bite.
      How about you had a car that used to have a removable roof, so that - when you felt like it - you could drop the top and enjoy the free air and sunshine.
      It comes back from the garage after a mandatory 'safety' recall, and - without consulting you - they've locked the roof closed forever.
      Does not sound like the car you originally purchased...

    • My Analogy:

      You pay premium for a Dodge Challenger. You spend a year souping it up, new fuel injection system, NOS, anything and everything you might have heard of when you watched Fast and the Furious.

      Dodge recalls the vehicles, for some issue.

      When you go to pick it up, they return you a stock Dodge Neon.

    • by Pvt_Ryan (1102363)
      How about: You buy a toyota It gets recalled for safety. It gets returned minus the accelerator (gas) pedal.. Oh wait that almost sounds familiar...
  • by juletre (739996) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:14AM (#31788986)
    A friend of mine sent a letter to Sony Norway telling them how his PS3 stopped working as advertised. In Norway any consumer electronics should be expected to work in 5 years. As it stands his PS3 just stopped working well short of the five years.
    No reply as of yet, but should be fun.
    • Better than just that... The warranty is for 5 years while removing a functionality in this manner is likely to get them a metal rod up their asses when the consumer protection agency finds out.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jbssm (961115)
      I believe in this case it's not even a warranty problem. In Portugal, the warranty is 2 years. But they cannot remove functionality just because the warranty is over. Even if it had passed 4 years I would still be entitled to compensation in this case.
  • by WilyCoder (736280) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:19AM (#31789050)

    This is a classic bait-and-switch that Sony did...

    • by socsoc (1116769)
      You need to learn what that really means [wikipedia.org]. People toss that phrase around like candy at retailers when something in the circular is sold out, it happens. It certainly doesn't apply in this situation.
    • by sjames (1099)

      That's an important point. Stunts like this one ARE bait and switch, just through the magic of firmware, they have made it more effective by waiting until you actually have the product in your home before the switch part.

  • by Pvt_Ryan (1102363) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:26AM (#31789138)

    "Without limitation, services may include the provision of the latest update or download of new release that may include security patches, new technology or revised settings and features which may prevent access to unauthorized or pirated content, or use of unauthorized hardware or software in connection with the PS3 system."

    It doesn't say anything about removal of features. just adding them or changing them..

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jbssm (961115)
      In EU, even if it said it doesn't matter. An EULA (or any other agreement between parts), cannot override the transaction law (or any other law for that matter). So, imagine, even if you signed something saying that you have only 1 year warranty (like Apple once was trying to make us believe in EU), it doesn't matter, you can sign it, go on with your life and still have exactly the same rights as you had or any new purchase ... meaning 2 years warranty.
  • This is really good news and sets a very important precedent in the digital market of internet connected devices. You can not sell something with an included or promised feature (at time of purchase) and then take it away. That action would seem to correlate to theft.

  • If Amazon forwards the bill to Sony, how will Sony respond?"

    Sony will pay Amazon, no problem. There's less 'class action' frenzy in Europe, so it will probably be peanuts...

    • by jittles (1613415)
      Except that once people see they can get money back on their purchase they will go after it even if they never intended to use that feature. And why not? Sony shouldn't be removing features. It affects resale value.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:32AM (#31789198) Homepage
    It's not entirely clear, but I hope that the owner tells them to suck on it, and insists on a full refund or repair.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have to give this a try for the many defective items I've purchased, including:

    - The shirt that said "One size fits all" but ripped after only two people were stuffed in it
    - The "all purpose" flashlight that refused to peel potatoes
    - The hand towel dispenser whose instructions said "rip down, tear up" and after I ripped it down and tore it up my hands were still wet and there were reams of low grade paper and mangled machinery everywhere

  • They actually should offer full refund to the console regardless of how old they are. It's not the same but what if car manufacturer disabled a 6th gear from a sports car?
    • by delinear (991444)
      I assume this is their opening gambit - the customer is entitled to press for a repair or full refund if the product is not fit for purpose, but it might be that he's happy enough to have some money back if it's a feature he used rarely, so it would be silly of them not to try and mitigate their losses in this way (in fact, I think they have to attempt to mitigate the loss in order to pass the costs on to the manufacturer, which is why it's generally so damn hard to get a refund).
  • The update was released on April 1, 2010.

    C'mon Sony, it ain't funny any more.

  • Buy something direct from Sony on your credit card. Once you get it, charge back half of the value. See if they complain.

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