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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

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 Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:45AM (#31868714)

    Naturally I'm only a deskjockey but in Australia you can get refunds if the item you bought doesn't do what was claimed. To use a car analogy: Like buying a car only to have GM come around and remove the fuel tank at some future date. GM would claim in their terms and conditions it clearly said they could alter the purchased item at any time. Somehow I don't think that would fly.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:57AM (#31868776)

    To prop up and advertise cell as a high performance super computing platform.

  • by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:00AM (#31868788) Homepage

    Your own country's consumer law will tell you if you (as a PS3 owner) are entitled to any form of compensation for this, regardless of Sony's opinion, or the retailer's. But you can't sue Sony over it AFAIK, since you have no contract with them directly.

    However, retailers do have a contract with Sony - and many countries also have some statutory laws regarding contracts between corporations. Thus there may be grounds for retailers to claim compensation, or even sue for breach.

    Of course, this might be a great way to piss off a major supplier, so I'm betting most retailers won't go after Sony, and will either write off a few customer claims or do their best to deny them.

  • by iapetus ( 24050 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:29AM (#31868924) Homepage

    Read the relevant EU law here. ( http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31999L0044:en:HTML [europa.eu] )

    It is explicitly stated in the law that "Any contractual terms or agreements concluded with the seller before the lack of conformity is brought to the seller's attention which directly or indirectly waive or restrict the rights resulting from this Directive shall, as provided for by national law, not be binding on the consumer."

    Law trumps EULA.

  • Oh don't count on it (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:44AM (#31869016)

    The retailers have more power than the suppliers in most cases. Unless the supplier is one of those things that makers or breaks a business, and that is very rare these days, the retailers are the ones who have the big stick. Reason is that a retailer sells many things. There are some things or brands they won't carry simply because of space reasons, at least in the case of physical retailers and even online retailers to an extent (warehouses are finite storage). There are always tradeoffs, and they can't carry everything. For any sufficiently large one, one item more or less won't hurt them much.

    This is not true of a supplier. You live and die by your goods getting in to the hands of consumers. For that to happen for most of them, you need retail availability. You need to be in Walmart and Target, you need to be on Amazon, etc. If consumers can't find you easily, they'll pass you over. That is less true of special items like the PS3, but still the case. A parent goes to buy a game console and the PS3 simply isn't in the stores they shop at, they go and get a 360 instead.

    This is precisely the reason why so many people put up with Walmart's shit. They are assholes to suppliers, but you really need to be in their store since so many people shop there. Not every supplier will (Rainbird is a big one that doesn't) but most do. Walmart is why you don't see many AO games, because they refuse to stock them.

    Also, in the case of something like this, there is the simple issue of possession of money. In the business world you ship out your products, and the store pays you once they get them. There's various reasons why it works that way, and some of it is due to problems. Say the items are defective or what not. If something is broken and the consumer brings it back, the supplier doesn't get paid for that one. So, the store doesn't always (or even usually) pay you the full amount. They write off things. You then have to negotiate with them over that. There are whole departments that work on that, accounts receivable departments.

    So consumer returns PS3. Store refunds money. New shipment comes in, store pays Sony, less the return unit (and other stuff). Sony says "No you have to pay," the store says "Sorry but no, the unit was returned in accordance with European law and store policy, you have to take the writeoff." At this point Sony can more or less live with it, or stop selling to the store. Not very likely to stop selling to the store, unless this was a major problem.

    Sony can bluster all they like, but when it comes down to it if Amazon tells them they are taking a writeoff for a PS3, they'll damn well do it. Blacklisting Amazon would hurt their bottom line in a major way.

  • by Sleepy ( 4551 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:57AM (#31869090) Homepage

    Taken from the Playstation.com forums (nice work!):

    CREDIT goes to Xrobx who posted these in another thread and i wanted to make sure that everyone sees them...

    Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.:
    "In addition to playing games, watching movies, listening to music, and viewing photos, you can use the PS3 system to run the Linux operating system. By installing the Linux operating system, you can use the PS3 system not only as an entry-level personal computer with hundreds of familiar applications for home and office use, but also as a complete development environment for the Cell Broadband Engine (Cell/B.E.)."
    http://www.playstation.com/ps3-openplatform/index.html [playstation.com]

    k&gl=us&client=safari) - google's cached page of the above hyperlink from March 30th 2010 which does not say anything about FW 3.21 removing Other OS. I've saved the page in case it goes offline, copy http address into browser as link probably won't work. Or, just search google and get the cached page. - kiyyto.

    Phil Harrison, February 2007,
    President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios 2005-2008:
    "One of the most powerful things about the PS3 is the 'Install Other OS' option."
    http://kotaku.com/235049/20-questions-with-phil-harrison-at-dice [kotaku.com]

    Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., 2006-2009:
    "The Linux Distributor's Starter Kit provides information, binary and source codes to Linux Distribution developers who wants to make their distro support PS3."
    http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux [kernel.org]

    Izumi Kawanishi, Sony, May 2006:
    "Because we have plans for having Linux on board [the PS3], we also recognize Linux programming activities... Other than game studios tied to official developer licenses, we'd like to see various individuals participate in content creation for the PS3."
    http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=9290 [gamasutra.com]

    Geoffrey Levand, August 2009,
    Principal Software Engineer at Sony Corporation:
    "Please be assured that SCE is committed to continue the support for previously sold models that have the "Install Other OS" feature and that this feature will not be disabled in future firmware releases."
    mailing list to PS3 customers using Linux

    Phil Harrison, May 2006,
    President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios 2005-2008:
    "The Playstation 3 is a computer. We do not need the PC."
    http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/0,1518,418642,00.html [spiegel.de]
    Make.Believe... you didn't see that

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @05:40AM (#31869314)

    I was refused refund in Ireland. I bought the old model when the slims were announced purely because I wanted to play with the cell in linux. It came with GTProlog which wont work without being connected and I bought the two wipeout fusion packs off their network which might play without a connection (not tried yet) but I've no disk if I ever have to reinstall.

    Now I just want to crack the thing open (which I am trying but more out of curiosity than expectation of actually getting anywhere). The only Sony products that will reach me from here on will be cracked/pirated, they'll not get the chance to burn me again.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:12AM (#31869452) Journal

    Damn right. And European Law sides very closely with customers.

    All it would require is a concerted combined effort by EU PS3 owners getting refunds for the retailers (who have to legally make the refund) to sue Sony, and force the Linux option back into the EU fat PS3 firmware.

    Consumer Protection Laws FTW.

  • by iapetus ( 24050 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:13AM (#31869460) Homepage

    There used to be a differential tax rate between computers and games consoles. During the PS2 days, Sony tried to circumvent this by shipping BASIC with PS2 in Europe, claiming this made it a general purpose computer. This didn't work.

    Since then the tax differential has vanished, so general computing capabilities have no bearing on PS3's tax status.

    This is my understanding of things, anyway.

  • by PhunkySchtuff ( 208108 ) <kai@nOSpaM.automatica.com.au> on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:16AM (#31869478) Homepage

    The ACCC [accc.gov.au] responded to my complaint regarding this latest move of Sony's and they are looking into the matter. Whether or not anything will come of it is anyone's guess, but the ACCC do have a history of standing up for the consumer and not being afraid of multinational corporations.

    Specifically, they're looking into the sale of a PS3 with OtherOS support being removed after the sale. The issues raised are being considered in the context of the Trade Practices Act 1974 [austlii.edu.au] .

    TRADE PRACTICES ACT 1974 - SECT 70 [austlii.edu.au]
    Supply by description
                              (1) Where there is a contract for the supply (otherwise than by way of sale by auction) by a corporation in the course of a business of goods to a consumer by description, there is an implied condition that the goods will correspond with the description, and, if the supply is by reference to a sample as well as by description, it is not sufficient that the bulk of the goods corresponds with the sample if the goods do not also correspond with the description.

                              (2) A supply of goods is not prevented from being a supply by description for the purposes of subsection (1) by reason only that, being exposed for sale or hire, they are selected by the consumer.

    TRADE PRACTICES ACT 1974 - SECT 71 [austlii.edu.au]

    Implied undertakings as to quality or fitness
                              (1) Where a corporation supplies (otherwise than by way of sale by auction) goods to a consumer in the course of a business, there is an implied condition that the goods supplied under the contract for the supply of the goods are of merchantable quality, except that there is no such condition by virtue only of this section:

                                              (a) as regards defects specifically drawn to the consumer's attention before the contract is made; or

                                              (b) if the consumer examines the goods before the contract is made, as regards defects which that examination ought to reveal.

                              (2) Where a corporation supplies (otherwise than by way of sale by auction) goods to a consumer in the course of a business and the consumer, expressly or by implication, makes known to the corporation or to the person by whom any antecedent negotiations are conducted any particular purpose for which the goods are being acquired, there is an implied condition that the goods supplied under the contract for the supply of the goods are reasonably fit for that purpose, whether or not that is a purpose for which such goods are commonly supplied, except where the circumstances show that the consumer does not rely, or that it is unreasonable for him or her to rely, on the skill or judgment of the corporation or of that person.

  • Unsurprising (Score:3, Informative)

    by brucmack ( 572780 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:55AM (#31869660)

    My experience is that very few electronics corporations give a rat's ass about consumer protection laws. I believe Sony also claims to sell their consoles here with a 1-year warantee, despite the fact that the legal minimum is 2 years.

  • by paradigm82 ( 959074 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @07:40AM (#31869896)
    I plan to file my own lawsuit after pursuing some less drastic steps first. These things take time - I think there's a lot of action going on from consumers around the world, but every step can take several weeks and this update has been out for just two weeks. There are benefits to individuals pursuing the case themselves since different legal arguments can be tried. I would be surprised if all those legal arguments are going to fail in all of the numerous juristictions where the system has been sold :) BTW, I didn't install the update. I hope the case can be resolved before new movies/games that can't be played start coming out :)
  • by CowboyBob500 ( 580695 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @07:53AM (#31869960) Homepage
    But that is still a breach of contract(1): the machine was sold as a machine that can run Linux *and* use the service. Now all of sudden it's either one or the other. According to several jurisdiction (France is cited in the example) Sony owes their customer some money.

    Close, but not quite correct. In the UK (and the EU), an item must be sold as "fit for purpose" and it is the retailer that is obliged to ensure that is the case not the manufacturer. In terms of electronic devices, fit for purpose usually means that it must perform the functions that it was advertised as performing at the time of purchase for a minimum of 6 years. Clearly this action by Sony breaks this sales contract, but the refund must come from the retailer as it was they that the consumer entered into contract with.

    However, the retailer would then claim the compensation back from the manufacturer as they are also entitled to the same "fit for purpose" guarantee. Therefore it will Amazon (in this case) that come knocking on Sony's door for a refund, not Joe Public. Sony may have a harder time brushing them off.
  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @08:47AM (#31870454) Journal

    Damn right. And European Law sides very closely with customers.

    All it would require is a concerted combined effort by EU PS3 owners getting refunds for the retailers (who have to legally make the refund) to sue Sony, and force the Linux option back into the EU fat PS3 firmware.

    Consumer Protection Laws FTW.

    Just for anyone interested (I was), the law cited is:

    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?

    I'll be asking for a refund from GameStop as I also were required to remove the portion to be able to buy new games.

  • by Custard Horse ( 1527495 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @08:53AM (#31870532)

    Worse IMO. When MS detects a modded box it chooses to assume the mod is for nefarious purposes and imposes a ban. I think that's fair. The bricking less so. If you want to mod the box, buy a second one or don't connect to XBL.

    In the PS3 case, the consumer has done nothing wrong but is sustaining a loss with no compensation. One would assume that trying to sign in to the PS network with a hacked box will result in a permanent ban unless you can have an undetectable firmware (such as version 3.21OO as touted by George Hotz - the author of the iPhone jailbreak).

    You heard it here first, Sony advance to the head of the shitlist. Microsoft loses its crown after so many years at the top.

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

    Irrelevant. They sold the console as providing features X and Y. Then, after the sale and without consent they remove feature "Y". They failed to predict the financial results of feature "Y", but that's their own fault. I can't see any way in which this is either justifiable or legal.

    Plus, they're just bone-headed. Clearly there not only a hobby, but also a serious tech market for these devices. They're missing a great opportunity by not simply selling a fully unlocked version (that doesn't support games) at four times the production cost. That would still be cheap for the processing power, yet it would turn a nice profit for them.

  • by xavierpayne ( 697081 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @10:16AM (#31871474)
    I called SONY customer relations to chat with them about the dropping of linux in their latest PS3 update. After very civily conveying my dismay at their decision to punish honest users of the PS3 by retro-actively ripping out the previously advertised, supported, and paid for "Other OS" feature I asked what they could do for me to even things up for effectively turning my non ps2 compatible fat into an oversized-overpriced slim. Their answer: "Sir I take hundreds of calls a day and you are the first to call and complain about this particular issue." Linux fans, PS3 owners who are linux fans... If that statement is true I'm dissappointed in you. 1-800-345-7669 (SONY) Hours: Mon-Sat 6:00AM-8:00PM / Sun 7:00AM-6:30PM PT If you are going to call be civil. But make it clear their action hasn't gone unnoticed and is unnacceptable. According to a friend of mine who has also called if you want to escalate it further, you can apparently call 1-866-286-5123 Monday through Friday from 8am-5:30pm Pacific time, a.k.a. 11am-8:30pm Eastern. They need to know just how much this bothers their customers. The impression I have so far is that it's not even a blip on their radar.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @10:54AM (#31872034) Journal
    A lot more than 10 guys bought it to run Linux. The Linux install was the cheapest Cell development platform you could buy. A lot of university research labs bought them for exactly that reason - it was a lot cheaper than a $5000 IBM Cell blade. And, of course, when you leave a PS3 in a lab with a load of postgrads, someone is going to buy games and movies to play on it...
  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @11:10AM (#31872252)

    The important phrase in that disclaimer is "TO THE FULL EXTENT PERMISSIBLE BY APPLICABLE LAW".

    Many countries expressly do not give the customer the luxury of being able to throw their rights away like that. The retailer might just as well say "TO THE FULL EXTENT PERMISSIBLE BY APPLICABLE LAW, THE SUN WILL NOT RISE TOMORROW".

  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @11:21AM (#31872400)

    Never buy any Sony product ever again. I was sort of leaning that way anyway due to the other snafus they have been involved with.

    I mean for me it just seems like s simple decision. Don't trust them, then don't buy them. They have a history of doing underhanded things in the name of profit protectionism at the cost to their clients. Why bother anymore? Besides, I am pretty sure Sony's time has come and gone anyway, the glory days are over and there are plenty of better choices out there.

  • by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <slas45dxsvadiv...vadiv@@@neverbox...com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @11:32AM (#31872516) Homepage

    Please stop perpetuating lies that various entities have claimed but are utterly, completely, legally incorrect.

    Under the law, if you exchange money for something without making any sort of agreement beforehand, you have, indeed, purchased that thing. If you walk into a store, pick something up off the shelf, carry it to the counter, set it down, hand money to the clerk, get a receipt, and walk out with that thing, you own it. There's plenty of case law about this.

    Including a copy of software in a box.

    Now, it's a copy of a copyrighted thing, so you can't make copy or do various other things forbidden by copyright law, but it is still a copy that you own. Copyright restrictions are restrictions under the law, not ones that the publisher has randomly made up. They don't get to randomly make up new ones. (The law does give the publisher to grant permissions to violate those rules if they want, but the rules themselves are legal ones.)

    It's like you buy a car, and the city you live in forbids parking on a street unless you are a resident of the house you park in front of, or unless you have permission of the owner. The fact they can grant you one exception to how you are normally disallowed, by law, from using your car does not mean you have leased your car from that house! No, not even if you bought it from that homeowner.

    And, on a more practical note, it's hard to see how anyone could be in a contractual agreement with the publisher anyway. 99.99% of the time software owners never even interacted with the publisher...most of the time, software is purchased from a third party. So, at best, you could have a contract with them. (Which you don't.)

    Did GameStop license the software and somehow got the ability to sublicense it to other people? I'd really like to see that contract. I suspect they simply made a purchase, just like any other reseller makes with a wholesaler. You can't magically jump up the chain and have a contractual relationship with the publisher when you buy from a reseller!

    Now, later, you might have agreed to some EULA that (claim to) restrict what you can do with the software more than normal copyright law, but that's irrelevant to the fact you purchased that copy. An EULA can't retroactively undo a purchase from a third party. (I supposed, in theory, it could assert that you're selling it back to them in exchange for something, but I've never seen one do that.)

    The idea that you 'license' software dates from ages ago, when copyright law didn't really cover software, and hence you actually did license it...and by 'you', I mean 'people running mainframes', as that was all that existed at the time. And, indeed, plenty of mainframe software is still licensed...by which , I mean, people actually sit down and sign contracts beforehand.

    This 'licensing' concept does not, and has never, under any circumstances, applied to any copyrighted work that people walk into stores and purchase.

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@w o r f . n et> on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:05PM (#31872942)


    Looks like Sony's closed that loophole for now - it was a good two weeks while it lasted, but now SOny's enforcing a check. (Wonder if you can proxy-fake it?)

    Guess we'll just wait for geohot to release his update.

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