Nintendo sued over Wii wrist straps

[UPDATE] Publisher accused of selling a product that was "ineffective for its intended use"; Nintendo calls suit "completely without merit."


Last week Nintendo announced a voluntary replacement program for the Wii Remote's wrist strap, which had been breaking at inopportune times for some customers and resulting in collateral damage. Shortly after the system launched in North America on November 19, reports popped up of broken cords, followed quickly by flying controllers crashing into high-priced electronics, living room furniture, and the occasional innocent bystander. While Nintendo acknowledged the Wii strap's problem and apparently addressed it, the company might not have done so in time.

On December 6, a Wii purchaser in Austin, Texas filed a suit against Nintendo, alleging the publisher of violating the Washington Consumer Protection Act (Nintendo is based in the state of Washington, where the suit was filed) by engaging in "unfair or deceptive practices" by telling consumers that the wrist strap was to prevent the controller from flying out of a user's hand during use, and then providing a strap that was "ineffective for its intended use." The suit also claims that the Wii Remote strap's problems constitute a breach of warranty, and seeks to become a class-action suit in which anyone who has purchased a Wii would be able to join.

"As a result of the defective nature of the wrist strap on the Wii remote, plaintiff's wrist strap broke on his remote causing damage to the Wii product plaintiff purchased," the suit reads. "The controller is an essential component of any video game console, and so [the] plaintiff is unable to use the Nintendo Wii for its intended purposes as a result of the broken wrist band. Accordingly, it renders the Wii console, which retails in the United States for $250, useless."

The Wii only comes packed with a single controller, but additional Wii Remotes can be purchased for $40 each.

One of the plaintiff's lawyers told GameSpot that Nintendo's replacement program for the wrist straps will not cause them to drop the suit. As for whether purchasers of new Wii systems that come with thicker wrist straps for the Wii Remotes would be eligible to join the suit, he said it would depend in part on whether the new straps adequately address the problem.

In his original filing, the plaintiff demands Nintendo cease what he sees as its unfair and deceptive practices, to refund or replace the strap with one that works as intended, reimburse him for legal expenses, and "such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper."

[UPDATE] A Nintendo representative passed along the company's official position on the matter: "We believe the lawsuit to be completely without merit. Nintendo has a long tradition of delivering high-quality products and excellent customer service, and we take all reports from our customers seriously. At the time we became aware of the lawsuit, we had already taken appropriate steps to reinforce with consumers the proper use of the Wii Remote and had made stronger replacement wrist straps available. This suit has had no effect on those efforts."

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