UK consumer rights programme not happy with Sony

Insert Weakest Link joke here

Sony headlined UK consumer rights programme Watchdog last night.

Following a recap of Sony’s troublesome history with hacks and insecure customer data, the programme took umbrage with Sony Europe’s digital refund policy. 

As reported by Eurogamer, the investigation was launched following a complaint from a customer who was unable to get a refund despite Sony acknowledging that his PSN account probably had been stolen when a charge for a game he’d never played — on a console he didn’t own — appeared on his account.

Writing on rllmukforum (via NeoGAF), PlayStation 4 owner John Lappin contacted Sony to query the £40 charge. Although Sony acknowledged that the purchase was very likely to be as a result of theft — and took steps to ensure that further fraudulent claims could not be made by Lappin’s account — they still would not refund the charge.

“Our investigation concluded that the serial number of the console on which these transactions were made does not match the serial number of the console you provided to us on your original call,” Sony said in an email to Lappin.

“Regrettably, as stated in the PlayStation Network Terms of Service, we are unable to offer a refund for purchases made on PlayStation Store unless the content is found to be defective.”

Thanks to pressure from the BBC, Sony did eventually refund Lappin’s charge — but many others featured in the programme have still yet to have their complaints issued as satisfactorily. 

“You can look at this two ways,” Lappin added. “Sony are all fine because, hey, they did refund me in the end, or you can view it as pretty bad that it took six months, multiple calls and emails and a TV investigation before they cynically refunded me so they can say ‘the affected users have since been refunded, we regret…’ on TV when they’re asked about it.”

Since the programme aired, Sony has released the following statement:

We would like to thank BBC Watchdog for bringing these cases to our attention. Having reviewed the evidence, we concluded that these appear to be fraudulent transactions, and further, that unfortunately the service received by both Mr Archer [who’d featured in the programme] and Mr Lappin fell below the high standards we set for ourselves. We would like to apologise to them both, and notify them that we have taken immediate action to reinstate their accounts and refund the wallet top up as appropriate.

We are also reviewing the investigation process that is applied to allegations of unauthorised account use.

We take the safety and security of our customers’ accounts very seriously, and have a range of industry-leading security measures in place to protect our customers. It is, however, imperative that all consumers take every precaution to protect their personal details online.

If customers would like advice on how best to protect themselves from possible internet fraud – and we strongly recommend they do so – they can visit or to

It should be pointed out that Sony’s no digital refunds policy is not dissimilar to many companies who also sell digital goods.

If you missed it, catch up on the BBC’s iPlayer. Be warned, though: although it highlighted an important topic, I found the segment incredibly patronising.

Have you been affected by this? Let us know in the comments, particularly if you’ve managed to successfully negotiate a refund either by your bank or Sony itself.


Vikki Blake