Despite some major wins from Nintendo’s legal team in the past, the Kyoto-based organization will need to soon defend itself from Europe. According to a recent report from German publication Pressfire, the Norwegian Consumer Council is taking German-located Nintendo of Europe to court over illegal refund policies on the eShop.
For anyone who is aware of Nintendo’s eShop and established practices, you may know what is being argued — but not that it is allegedly illegal. On the eShop, gamers are able to pre-order games ahead of release. However, once you have pre-ordered a game, you aren’t able to get a refund — even if the game hasn’t come out yet.
This isn’t something that is hidden from consumers by any means. The House of Mario has a dedicated support page on refunds for electronic purchases where they directly state:
We are unable to provide refunds or exchanges for mistaken purchases.
If you are digging even further into the company’s Purchase Terms (and don’t mind digging through legalese), you find this snippet as well:
Except as authorized by Nintendo or as required by applicable law, all payments that you make through the Shopping Services (including pre-purchases and Subscription payments) are final and non refundable, and Products may not be returned or exchanged.
But just because they are direct, doesn’t mean that the terms of this arrangement aren’t illegal. Around February 2018, the Norwegian Consumer Council sent a warning shot to Nintendo of Europe via an open letter that said Nintendo violated article 16 (m) of the Consumer Rights Directive. More specifically, they argued that if the content has not yet been delivered, there is no legal basis to withhold purchasers’ money if they are looking for a refund.
If you find out you don’t want to pick up Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for Nintendo Switch, you should be able to take out these funds and cancel the order.
As you would imagine, the company openly responded to this letter, giving this statement to publication Eurogamer:
The operation of Nintendo eShop in Europe is fully compliant with European laws relating to the statutory rights of consumers.
Not satisfied with the response, the Norwegian Consumer Council is now bringing Nintendo to court to settle the matter on what the company is able to do with their pre-order programs. The consequences could be wide-spread, with a judgment for the Council possibly impacting how Nintendo conducts sales globally. However, until we hear from European courts, we will have to wait roughly a month until we hear the arguments laid out.
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