UK Consumer Rights Act allows refund on “faulty” games

Yesterday the UK Consumer Rights Act came into force, entitling anyone who purchases faulty goods to a full refund within 30 days of buying. As well as everyday items this also applies to digital content, video games included.

As listed on Citizens Advice, this will be the first time digital goods have been included under such a law.

“This will be the first time that rights on digital content will have been set out in legislation. The Act gives consumers a clear right to repair or replacement of faulty digital content such as online film and games, music downloads and e-books. The law here has been unclear up until now and this change brings us up to date with how digital products have evolved.”

You can view the Act, and in particular the section on digital content, here. In essence, if the digital content is considered faulty beyond what might be reasonably consider minor defects, the consumer has the right to repair or replacement of said content, which must be enacted within a reasonable time. A patch from the developer would classify as a repair, and if a repair is the only viable remedy – as opposed to a replacement – the time allowed for the patch to be sent out is longer than that allotted for a replacement, as video games are acknowledged as being a complex digital product.

However, if the digital content has been purchased for a specific reason, such as early access to a multiplayer game and the servers are non-operational, denying the consumer early access, a repair or replacement might not be feasible. In such a case the consumer could then claim a refund or price reduction should they still wish to keep their game.

The Act states that a refund in such a case must be given within 14 days, commencing on the day the retailer agrees the consumer is entitled to a refund. This is important to note – the rights granted by the Act are against the retailer and not the manufacturer. If you purchased a game from the Xbox Live store that met the above criteria you’re refund claim would be sent to Microsoft, not the developer or publisher of the game.

Free-to-play games are also covered in the Act. An example from Citizens Advice:

“You download a free game (for example, a virtual world) and build up some virtual currency in the game through your normal game play. You then buy some additional virtual currency in order to make an in-app purchase (for example, an item for their world). The item is faulty and doesn’t appear in your virtual world.

Under the Act, as the game is free, the provider does not have to provide a remedy for any faults in the game. However, once you paid a price for some content then, if the you can show that that content is faulty (that is, does not meet the quality rights), the provider will be liable to provide a remedy. The provider is only liable for faults affecting the chargeable elements of the game.”

For further information and guidelines see the Citizens Advice website, as well as the Consumer Rights Act in full.

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