If you’re still smarting from the removal of a Linux option from your PS3, there may be legal recourse: if, that is, you live in Europe.
As we noted last month, a Sony firmware update removed the ability to install Linux on the console, something some users found particularly attractive given the processing power of a PS3. The move was said to be down to security concerns, though what wasn’t said by Sony was that this likely related to claims Linux could be used to hack the console to play pirated games.
Now one British user has received a partial refund over the removal. He had contacted Amazon.co.uk to complain about the changes and been told that he had no case as it was long past the company’s standard deadline for refunds and the console was also out of its original warranty.
The user, “iapetus”, then replied quoting a European Union directive (which was then incorporated into national laws) requiring that goods comply with the description given to the seller. His claim was that removing the Linux option meant the product itself had been changed and thus retrospectively failed to live up to the original billing.
Amazon then refunded him £84, approximately 20% of the original purchase price.
It may be too early to get too excited about this development. The British branch of Amazon has previously been known to offer partial refunds for some one-off claims on debatable legal points: in July last year it granted a refund equivalent to the cost of Windows to a man who bought a laptop but wanted to run Linux instead.
This doesn’t mean that there’ll be a blanket policy on refunds for all. For one thing, each buyer’s contract is with the retailer, not the manufacturer, so approaches to refunds will vary from seller to seller. For another, if refund demands become widespread, retailers will likely seek to get compensation from Sony. Assuming Sony rejects this, retailers will probably be quick to put a halt to refunds and force customers to go to court if they want to push the point.