EA Changes Origin Refund Policy After Being Hit by Australian Consumer Watchdog

Publisher agrees that its refund policy breached Australian Consumer Law.

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Electronic Arts has admitted that its refusal to provide refunds for games purchased digitally via Origin was against Australian consumer law and is amending its refund policy after being warned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Kotaku Australia reports.

According to the report, the publisher will also be setting up a contact number for Australian consumers who digitally purchased a faulty video game via Origin after January 2012. At the time of writing, users are able to refund a game on Origin within 24 hours after it is first launched, within seven days from the date of purchase, or within seven days from the game’s release date if it was pre-ordered; whichever condition comes first.

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"Businesses such as EA selling digitally downloadable goods cannot avoid their responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law just because they are located outside of Australia," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

"It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that customers are not entitled to refunds under any circumstances. Where a product has a major failure, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their choice. Representations that this right has or can be excluded, restricted or modified are false or misleading," Sims said.

In a statement sent to GameSpot, EA regional public relations manager for Asia Pacific Snezana Stojanovska said, "We're pleased to have worked co-operatively with the ACCC to resolve the ACCC's concerns and ensure our players in Australia have the best possible experience when purchasing and playing EA games. In addition to rights available to our players under the Australian Consumer Law, we are also proud to offer our global, industry-leading Great Game Guarantee that allows for digital returns within certain timeframes if anyone is not satisfied with a digitally-downloaded game from EA." More details on the EA's Great Game Guarantee can be found on the Origin website.

EA came under fire in 2013 for its refusal to offer refunds for SimCity, a game which launched in March with various server issues that negatively impacted gameplay. At the time, the publisher's Returns & Cancellations page stated that it did not offer refunds. The Origin Great Game Guarantee feature was introduced in August 2013 to a selected list of countries, which included Australia.

EA is not the only company to face warnings from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Last year Valve came under fire for the refund policy of products on its digital platform Steam, and its alleged conflict with Australian consumers' right to a refund under the Australian Consumer Law.

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