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Operating Systems PlayStation (Games) Sony The Almighty Buck The Courts Games Linux

Sony Refuses To Sanction PS3 "Other OS" Refunds 396

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-paid-for-what-we-say-you-paid-for dept.
Stoobalou writes "Sony says that it has no intention of reimbursing retailers if they offer users partial refunds for fat PS3s. Last week, the first PS3 user successfully secured a partial refund from Amazon UK as compensation for the removal of the ability to run Linux on the console. The user quoted European law in order to persuade the online retailer that the goods he had bought in good faith were no longer fit for his purposes because of the enforcement of firmware update 3.21, which meant that users who chose to keep the Other OS functionality would lose the ability to play the latest games or connect to the PlayStation Network."
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Sony Refuses To Sanction PS3 "Other OS" Refunds

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:39AM (#31868686)

    Usually I'd be out here saying let Sony do what they want with their own platform, but this is really kind of a dick move. They don't lose anything keeping the extra functionality, and they lose a ton of goodwill by blocking out some of their most ardent supporters.

    Sucky
    Onerous
    Nasty
    Ydiots.

  • Re:I guess... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ashkar (319969) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:45AM (#31868712)

    I'd get in on that. There is no fucking way a company should be able to disable a feature years after the purchase.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:48AM (#31868734) Journal
    Their platform, but not their machine. People had bought those machines and Sony decides to break them.
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:49AM (#31868738) Homepage Journal

    OTOH these supporters cost them real money.

    Sony adds some good money to each console, hoping to recuperate in games and movies.
    Now imagine the Army buys 2000 PS3s for making a supercomputing cluster, because they are priced competetively. Because Sony is subsidizing them. Of course they will use the "Other OS" feature to run their supercomputer stuff and they won't buy a single game for the cluster.
    Same about nerds who have 5-10 games and spend time running Linux on PS3.

    I think the best course of action would be "You can have the feature... for $150 extra" from moment zero - consoles with "Other OS" enabled not subsidized and sold at a good profit margin.

  • by hguiney (1767252) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:50AM (#31868744)
    ...if they didn't actually give a shit about it? What were they expecting people to do with it, if not make homebrew games and rip Blu-rays? Seems like really poor product design on their part.
  • Re:I guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:53AM (#31868756) Homepage Journal

    totally. I guess it will be even more successful than the total boycott of Modern Warfare 2 for lack of dedicated servers. That certainly showed them!

  • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:54AM (#31868758) Journal

    Normally, I'd do the same, but this situation is not analogous to the usual problems that /.ers have with Sony. It's more than Sony trying to sell something sub-par at par price (like the rootkits, for example), this is Sony actually reducing functionality that people paid for. This can not possibly be legal, and I'm sure there's a class-action in this somewhere. They paid for the functionality, and now Sony is removing it without consent.

    The only spanner in the works here is that the PS3 owners don't need to upgrade their PS3s. All their games that they've bought so far currently work, so long as they don't "upgrade" to the latest firmware, plus they keep their other OS functionality. Sure, they can't buy new games, but they don't necessarily have the right to buy new games. However, I would argue that customers bought their PS3s, in part, for the games. In buying a PS3, there's a clear expectation that you will have the ability (given the will and the money) to buy and play some of the many forthcoming PS3 games. Sony has artificially and abruptly shortened the life of the platform for those wishing to continue using their second OS.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:07AM (#31868808)

    Note that in the EU, your contract is with (and therefore the organisation you have to sue if it all goes pear-shaped) the retailer, not the manufacturer. But now that Sony has made an official announcement, there is no way most retailers will even contemplate offering a partial refund until they receive court papers - and possibly not until it's heard and an order is handed down.

    Even if ordered to by a court, a retailer isn't going to bother trying to sue Sony unless and until they have had to refund a sufficiently large number of customers as to make it worthwhile. They're certainly not going to take Sony on over a single £70 refund (which I believe is what Amazon refunded), and they probably won't until they have dealt with hundreds, if not thousands of similar refunds.

    I'm not convinced there are enough people who are sufficiently bothered by it as to make that happen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:07AM (#31868810)

    Sony: "Any refunds you offer are between you and your customers, and we're not obligated to reimburse you."

    Amazon: "Thanks for the clarification. Also, we're not obligated to carry any Sony products. Just letting you know."

    Hey, a guy can dream...

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:08AM (#31868822) Journal

    The PSP was infamous for having bad pixel problems. More so then any other device including the cheaper DS. So naturally Sony dug in and claimed that bad pixels were normal and it wouldn't repair or replace.

    Dutch consumer watchdog program Kassa took up the story and voila, Holland become the only country were Sony replaced the PSP with ANY dead pixel or subpixel.

    It is amazing how much consumer rights are being eroded by big companies who hope that the enough consumers just won't push the issue far enough for them to be forced to regonize the law.

    OF course Sony has NO such problem prosecuting the consumer if they happen to violate the law (copyright infringement).

    It seems that to big companies the law is a buffet. You take what you need and ignore the rest. And we are letting them get away with it.

    And no, it ain't just Sony fanboys either. Apple lovers and MS apologists are just as bad.

    We the consumer need to grow some balls.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:12AM (#31868848) Journal

    OTOH these supporters cost them real money.

    That's their problem. And it does not make it any less illegal in the EU.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:20AM (#31868888)

    Except, the army could do that anyways. They just wouldn't update their PS3. The problem is really only for people who "need" both their own OtherOS, AND the ability to connect to the playstation network for regular ps3 gaming or media stuff.

    The army wouldn't worry about loosing that second part by choosing to not upgrade.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:27AM (#31868916)

    When an EULA contradicts the law, I do think the law wins, but I might be completely wrong...

  • by beh (4759) * on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:28AM (#31868922)

    From the article:

    "which meant that users who chose to keep the Other OS functionality would lose the ability to play the latest games or connect to the PlayStation Network."

    So, the people who chose to keep the Other OS functionality, can no longer buy any new games - so if people needed that functionality, but also play games, then Sony will make them choose:

    a) buy another new console so you have one for your other OS; and one for games. This adds revenue for Sony, but causes them a loss as they subsidize the basic console (i.e. the will lose the subsidy twice on such a customer).

    b) stay with one console with Other OS, but stop playing games on the PS3 - thereby ensuring the user will no longer add to Sony's revenue.

    c) remove the Other OS, update and only use it for playing. Revenue stream continues for Sony (on new games) - but at the cost of goodwill to the company.

    I don't see any decent outcome for Sony on either of the three options...

  • by iapetus (24050) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:31AM (#31868942) Homepage

    The same law that dictates whether the customer should receive a refund from the retailer determines whether that retailer has recourse against Sony for their costs incurred. So if this ever ends up in court (and I know of at least one case where it looks likely that it will) then if a precedent is set that the consumer deserves a refund it's going to be hard for Sony to fight. They can refuse all they like to sanction it, but if national law says they have to pay up, then they have to pay up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:38AM (#31868980)

    Sony doesn't play nice, no one should play nice. Let's copy and share Sony's music and movies as much as we can.

  • by mcvos (645701) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:40AM (#31868988)

    OTOH these supporters cost them real money.

    Sony adds some good money to each console, hoping to recuperate in games and movies.

    That's Sony's own fault for having a sucky business model. It's their own decision to sell PS3s at a loss. They didn't have to do that.

    However, if Sony has presented these consoles as being able to run Linux as well as play games, and they take away that ability, then by any decent standard, Sony owes customers who bought their PS3 for that ability a refund. They're changing the advertised abilities of their product after the sale has happened. That's not right, and deserves to be illegal in any jurisdiction.

  • by Sleepy (4551) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:40AM (#31868990) Homepage

    >OTOH these supporters cost them real money.

    Sony ADVERTISES a feature. I buy a product BECAUSE of that feature. This is a transaction.
    Then Sony time-bombs or removes that feature.
    I have had something taken away from ME, and you have the balls to suggest this cost Sony?
    On what planet sir do you spend most of your time?

    Now, let's proceed with your outrageous suggestion that mega corporations have a right to shut down customers who are less profitable.
    Suggesting that "OtherOS costs Sony real money" is no less applicable than saying "Blu-Ray users cost Sony real money".. should Sony disable PS3 users who play movies but DON'T play games?
    Are you SERIOUS??

    I use OtherOS. I have Linux on my laptop, but it's nice to demo things on the TV and not have to hook up the laptop.
    Actually, why the hell should I have to justify using something I already paid for?

  • by mcvos (645701) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:43AM (#31869010)

    Read the EULA here. ( http://www.scei.co.jp/ps3-eula/ps3_eula_en.html [scei.co.jp] )

    It is explicitly said in the EULA that the warranty of "fitness for a particular purpose" is totally disclaimed in any imaginable or non-imaginable way.

    The EULA applies to firmware, too, according to the 3rd paragraph.

    I have serious doubts that the EULA can override law like that.

  • by Rigrig (922033) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:45AM (#31869022) Homepage
    Except people who only buy PS3s for supercomputing aren't affected, only the people that want to run another OS and also play the games they buy.
  • by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:55AM (#31869084) Journal

    Nice to see the link, but I think the relevant quote here lies in Article 4 "Rights of redress".

    However, because the firmware update is not distributed as a consumer good through the same chain of sellers that distributed the devices, they may as well argue that the law doesn't apply here (so no case for retailers), and they retain the right to fuck everyone else by the EULA (so no case for customers).

  • by OlivierB (709839) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:59AM (#31869104)

    I know that there are countries in Europe that have lower VAT rates for computers, as opposed to game consoles.
    I suspect that by adding the Linux option to their PS3s, Sony was able to switch to the reduced VAT level, as hence bag more profits for the same retail price.

    This may have been revoked/no longer valid/overturned/whatever recently and hence Sony has no further incentive to offer this feature.
    Could also be that being classified as a computer made the console eligible for government subsidies to buy "computers" (such as in the UK the Home Access Program - http://www.becta.org.uk/homeaccess [becta.org.uk])

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Friday April 16, 2010 @05:06AM (#31869138) Homepage Journal

    No EULA ever overrides a national law (unless the law in question has special provisions that specifically allow to override/waive it). If the EULA has provisions that are contradicting local law, local law takes priority.

    That's one of fine points of labor laws in EU. The employer can give the employee a draconian contract to sign, with many nasty points that, say, raise the number of hours, reduce the number of days off, cut into the salary and so on. The employee can then just smirk, sign, and then sue if the employer tries to assert any of the points that are against labor laws.

    Most of "protection laws" are written specifically in a way that makes it impossible for the protected to give up the protection, even willingly - they override any contracts that might contradict them.

  • by uglyduckling (103926) on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:00AM (#31869398) Homepage
    You're making a geek distinction that has no place in the world of law. Sony sold a device with certain features, one of those features no longer works following interference by the manufacturer. That's breach of contract.
  • by zippthorne (748122) on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:26AM (#31869502) Journal

    Yes, you've discovered the mid-cycle PC surge. Console makers foolishly release all within roughly a year of each other, then nothing. At some point *all* of the consoles are less capable than the bottom 30th percentile of PCs people are using for other stuff and there is a resurgence of games targeting the PC.

    They're not even talking about the next-gen yet, although the MS platform is long overdue, and Nintendo doesn't even have an HD offering of any kind.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:30AM (#31869526)
    Yes, I think that's the interesting point here. Instead of pissing off a tiny minority of users, Sony is now pissing off all of its (European) distributors (all of whom will either have customers who care about other OSs or who will worry that they might). Those retailers can make life more uncomfortable for Sony than a few disgruntled users.
  • by delinear (991444) on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:53AM (#31869654)

    Glad I never bought one, I just don't trust Sony enough.

    Funny, since the Sony ROOTKIT fiasco I have felt the same way about Sony.

    Ditto, I desperately wanted to own a PS3 but I didn't feel (despite the calls at the time of "they've changed, they've changed") that they were trustworthy for a number of reasons, culminating in rootkits. They obviously care nothing for their customers, and it appears from this latest news that they care nothing for their retailers or EU law, either - I wonder, do they now feel they're too big to fail?

    As for the box pictures, that makes little difference. As a customer you would only have to demonstrate that you could reasonably be expected to know about the feature - considering the amount of press the console got on the web before launch, with every single function and feature dissected and analysed, you'd have to have been living under a rock to not know about Other OS. I certainly was aware of it before the console launched (it was one of the key things that almost swayed me to buy one).

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Friday April 16, 2010 @07:01AM (#31869698) Homepage

    Not according to European law, thankfully. We still have the right to enjoy what we've paid for, or get our money back.

  • by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Friday April 16, 2010 @07:55AM (#31869972) Homepage
    I was refused refund in Ireland.

    That will be illegal then. You obviously have the right to not exercise your statutory rights, but if it was me I'd be threatening them with small claims court.
  • by LordKronos (470910) on Friday April 16, 2010 @08:06AM (#31870072) Homepage

    Sony adds some good money to each console, hoping to recuperate in games and movies.
    Now imagine the Army buys 2000 PS3s for making a supercomputing cluster, because they are priced competetively. Because Sony is subsidizing them. Of course they will use the "Other OS" feature to run their supercomputer stuff and they won't buy a single game for the cluster.
    Same about nerds who have 5-10 games and spend time running Linux on PS3.

    I think the best course of action would be "You can have the feature... for $150 extra" from moment zero - consoles with "Other OS" enabled not subsidized and sold at a good profit margin.

    Sony didn't seem to mind using all these non-user in their numbers when they were trying to defeat HD-DVD. They were more than happy to brag about how many bluray players were out in the market. They were happy with it when they had a heated battle to fight, but now that they've won they'd like to undo all those sales they made that were instrumental to their victory.

  • by Vectormatic (1759674) on Friday April 16, 2010 @08:30AM (#31870286)

    I think EULAs should be entirely enforceable, but I think companies should be legally bound to quiz you afterwards. No pass, no install.

    That would rock, Microsoft windows sales would plummet , iphone app store usage would be decimated after the first update as only the most devoute turtle-neck worshippers suffer through 90 pages of legalese.

    In the current form, i think EULAs should be made legally null and void, no-one reads them anyway, and most explicitly contradict common law

  • by BAlGaInTl (1462633) on Friday April 16, 2010 @08:42AM (#31870406)
    Clearly worse. Microsoft never sold a unit where modding the 360 was a feature, and even allowed/encouraged through the software of the system that was sold.
  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Friday April 16, 2010 @08:43AM (#31870420)

    Sony's legal counsel thought it was a great idea to stick rootkits on their music CDs. When it comes to technology the legal counsel often fails to see important facts.

  • by tophermeyer (1573841) on Friday April 16, 2010 @08:53AM (#31870524)

    and force the Linux option back into the EU fat PS3 firmware.

    Except that the suit would likely not be intended to force Sony to re-enable Linux. Rather the suit (filed by the retailers) would be to shift the financial responsibility back to Sony for all the refunds the retailers have to issue.

    The end result being, as always, the customers get shafted and the lawyers win.

  • by iapetus (24050) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:15AM (#31870736) Homepage

    This really is a feeble argument. Sony removed the functionality - Geohot didn't. If you feel it's fair to pass the blame to him because of something that he may or may not have done, then by the same virtue it gets passed right back to Sony because they didn't get their security right first time.

    Sony took this functionality away. It is likely that this was in violation of local law. This is their fault, and they should be made to pay appropriate compensation. It really is that simple.

  • by eosp (885380) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:18AM (#31870772) Homepage
    That only works if you can convince the stupid people too.
  • If people listened (Score:3, Insightful)

    by McGiraf (196030) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:31AM (#31870914) Homepage

    If people listened to Richard Stallman the would have seen this coming.

  • by ErikZ (55491) * on Friday April 16, 2010 @10:07AM (#31871338)

    The Tea Party isn't going after Sony because they're not your personal fantasy fulfilling device.

    Sony will get bit by this by Retailers and lawsuits, we already have existing laws and methods for dealing with this.

    You're dealing with issues emotionally instead of logically.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday April 16, 2010 @10:45AM (#31871890)

    Thanks to him and him alone you've lost the OS functionality.

    Yeah, how DARE he screw around with hardware that he owns.

    What the hell happened to the hacker mentality in geek-land?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @11:12AM (#31872274)

    That is of course using the Slashdot definition of stupid, which is "doesn't agree with Slashdot groupthink."

  • I'm not saying that car dealers are not thieving rob-dog scumbags but they will at least give you the option of a Bose sound system or include it in the price, you know, *to keep*.

    Indeed. The internet and computers have managed to invent a whole new level of scumbagness.

    Before that, if you were stupid, they might sell you a pig in a bag that was actually a cat (Giving rise to both the expression 'buying a pig in a poke' and 'letting the cat out of the bag'.) or a disease ridden horse they tarted up for an horse, or a poorly constructed car, or whatever.

    Throughout history there's been plenty of ways to rip people off, but, like you said, all of them stopped at the sale. Intelligent people would inspect very closely what they were buying, and make their choice, and that was that.

    No one in the entire history of 'selling stuff' would ever suggest that the seller could, in three months, come about and swap out the horse you purchased for a different, crappier horse. Or remove the headlights of your car.

    Until software.

  • by Douglas Goodall (992917) on Friday April 16, 2010 @11:31PM (#31880162) Homepage
    I bought two generation one PS3's because they had the Cell processor and I wanted to experiment with high performance multi-core systems. Sony has stated that they lose money on each PS3 that doesn't get additional game revenue. They didn't state that while they were selling the first PS3 units. It wasn't part of the EULA that you were expected to buy their games. I am used to buying hardware and doing what I like with it. That didn't include any intention to reverse engineer any part of the machine, which I have not done. I guess I cannot let either of my machines accept any further updates from Sony, because Yellow Dog Linux is my development environment for Cell experimentation. I wonder if there will bea class action suit down the road about this. As an aside, I will not be buying any more Sony products, ever.

We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.

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