ACCC forces EA to offer refunds for Origin digital downloads

The Australian competition watchdog has welcomed an enforced undertaking from gaming giant EA to provide refunds to customers downloading games on the Origin platform.

Electronic Arts (EA) has made an enforceable undertaking to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to ensure that customers downloading content on the Origin platform are aware of their rights to refunds under Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC said in a statement on Tuesday that since the beginning of 2012, EA made remarks through the Origin terms and conditions and its customer support that Australian customers were not entitled to refunds for games downloaded and purchased through the Origin platform.

After receiving complaints, the ACCC investigated the issue, and EA made a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC that for the next three years, the company will not have a "no refunds" policy, and won't prevent customers from obtaining refunds for games purchased through Origin.

The company has also said it will amend its terms and conditions to comply with Australian Consumer Law.

Any customer who bought a defective game on Origin after January 1, 2012, wishing to obtain a refund can now contact EA to have a claim assessed. EA will set up a complaints number, an email address, and a post office box for inquiries associated with the undertaking.

"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."

EA is not the first company to be targeted by the competition watchdog over the right to refunds under Australian Consumer Law. Last year, the ACCC took Valve to court over similar refund issues with the Steam platform.

The case is due to be heard in court in July, but the ACCC and Valve have entered into assisted dispute resolution as of April 1.