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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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  • 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.


    • 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 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 selven ( 1556643 )

      Normally, I'd say let them do what they want, but here the people who bought the PS3 for the Linux functionality had no idea that it would soon be taken away, so Sony made them throw away a few hundred dollars for nothing.

  • ...a class action lawsuit may convince them otherwise.

  • 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.

    • Maybe, but it depends whether the feature was actually advertised, or just happened to be there.

      You are not liable if the fault resulted from incorrect advice provided to the consumer by the retailer.

      This might give some hope though

      You cannot impose misleading conditions into your contract with retailers to limit your responsibility for the goods you have supplied. For example, stating that the retailer must pay freight for returning faulty goods, or that faulty goods must be returned in the original packaging, is likely to mislead the retailer about their rights and your obligations.

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

      • it depends whether the feature was actually advertised, or just happened to be there.

        I believe it was written on the box.

    • Ring the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and see what they say.
      If the person on the phone does not seem to get it, you can escalate your enquiry.
      Make an appointment. Have the box and any Sony Australia PR/press material that mentions "Other OS functionality" with you.
      Keep on pressing as the GP noted, this is really interesting wrt Australia law and the new direction consumer protection laws should be taking.
      Also remember you local member of parliament, local press, radio and other PS3 user
  • 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.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:57AM (#31868776)

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xtracto ( 837672 )

        I read someone here on slashdot who claimed it was done so that they could avoid certain taxes (putting the PS3 as a general computation machine) but do not quote me on that... in fact I would be happy if someone shed more light to that claim.

        • IIRC they did the same thing with the PS2 via a disk with a version of "BASIC" on it.

        • 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.

    • It just means that the Light Side of the Force triumphed briefly within their company long enough for them to actually make the claim.

      But it's okay, the Dark Side is ascendent once again. 
    • The hint of a ps2 style tax break in some part of the world.
      Brain wash a generation to mount and enjoy the K9 delights via their first Sony.
      Game, blu ray and look up to see the creative friendly glow of Sony?.
      A more open feel to the wider Linux community and positive trade mag press spin.
      As MS build a Berlin Wall, Sony played the Tito card.
      Long term its still 'game over' for wanting the freedom on a device you own.
    • by Sleepy ( 4551 )

      Sony was OK wirh homebrew... but only when the PS3 platform was young and vulnerable. Remember how the platform launched for $600-$700 and a lot of people thought it would fail, possibly bankrupting Sony in the process?

      This is how they thank us.

      This was my only console purchase since the Super Nintendo. I've always been a PC gamer, going way back to 64K Atari XL computers. I know others will say it and not mean it, but if Sony does not fix this I will *never* buy any Sony product (of any kind) again. It's b

    • 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 - [])

  • 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 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.

      • Yeah, but the protections are not totally without cost. Europeans always complain about the price differential between the American and European markets, but a big reason for this differential is that its just plain more expensive to do business in Europe. So you either get more protections or cheaper products, you cannot have both.
        • Still cheaper than extended warranties, or having the trader rip you off.

          It's absolutely great in fact. My example: I bought a mobile from Clove Technology (based in UK). I'm in the USA. Mobile's mini-usb failed in 4 months. Under USA law, it's beyond any return period, so I need to deal with manufacturer for warranty repair. Well, under UK Sale of Goods Act, I get coverage from Clove for at least 6 months for ANY problems. And, if I think the mobile is no good for failing in that amount of time, I can

          • Where did you find a piece of electronics for sale in the US with a claimed manufacturer warranty of less than one year?

            That is sufficient. There is no need for concurrently doubling the warranty with the retailer, too. That's just wasted resources.

    • by Sleepy ( 4551 )

      >But you can't sue Sony over it AFAIK, since you have no contract with them directly.

      yes you do: the update server which removed the OtherOS feature.

      It's no different than buying a car from a "dealer".. it's still the manufacturer's problem.

    • 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 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 AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Sony would have to fight 'you' or a small class action on precedent alone. :)
      They learned that from the DVD region code loopholes in consumer laws in some parts of the world.
      When you enter a new market with new 'upgrades' never have parts of the world out of step.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 iapetus ( 24050 )

      The same law that dictates whether consumers get refunds dictate whether the retailer can have their money back from Sony. In short, while Sony are refusing to be part of any good will refunds (because they've already given up on maintaining good will with their customers, apparently) they're still on the legal hook for any enforced refunds.

  • by jprupp ( 697660 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:08AM (#31868824)
    I bought a PS3 because it could run Linux. It was interesting for me to see what Linux could do in that machine. After some time, I became bored by it, I couldn't turn it into a decent Linux media center, many video formats didn't play properly, and I wasn't really playing much with it. DVDs or Blu-Ray discs from other zones wouldn't work in it, and I think the device was too locked for my open sourcer taste. I felt like when I had an iPhone. Then I get the news on the firmare update that would disable Linux compatibility, and that was the end for me. I sold that motherfucker through online auctions along with all games. So much for proprietary platforms and me.
  • 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 xelah ( 176252 )

      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.

      Not necessarily...there are laws like the UK's Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations which apply to consumers and not businesses. Besides, the update came from Sony, not the who knows?

      • by iapetus ( 24050 )

        I don't mean that they apply in the same way; the European regulation on this (which member states such as the UK are obliged to incorporate into their own laws) explicitly says that where the consumer gets their money from the retailer, the retailer has the right to go after whoever it was further up the supply chain that was to blame for the lack of conformity - in this case Sony.

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

    Taken from the 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.)." []

    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." []

    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." []

    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." []

    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.",1518,418642,00.html []
    Make.Believe... you didn't see that

  • by PhunkySchtuff ( 208108 ) <kai@automatica.c[ ]au ['om.' in gap]> on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:16AM (#31869478) Homepage

    The ACCC [] 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 [] .

    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.


    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.

  • If people listened (Score:3, Insightful)

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

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

  • 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 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 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.

Air is water with holes in it.