Some Sony PS Vita owners will get refunds, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC approved yesterday a final order for a settlement between the agency, Sony, and Deutsche LA.
Deutsche LA was the advertising agency Sony hired to advertise and market the PS Vita handheld device in 2011 and 2012 – both before and after Sony launched the device.
The FTC sued Sony and Deutsche LA in November of 2014, according to an FTC report.
The original complaint by the FTC alleged that both companies, Sony and Deutsche LA, violated numerous consumer protection laws by misleading consumers with false advertising.
The FTC also alleged that Deutsche LA violated the 2009 Guide for Disclosure and the updated Dot com Disclosure of 2013 by using deceptive product endorsements via undisclosed Twitter advertising campaigns.
According to Forbes, Sony and Deutsche started the $50 million advertising campaign in February of 2012.
— Dave Thier (@DaveThier) February 14, 2012
The ads and endorsements ultimately led to consumers buying a product that did not do what Sony promised it would — and the companies did this knowingly, according to the FTC.
The final order, approved yesterday by a unanimous vote of 5–0, orders Sony to give eligible PS Vita owners “either a $25 cash or credit refund, or a $50 merchandise voucher” good for use on certain games or services, according to the FTC court filing.
Eligible purchasers can opt for a check, or if they have a PSN, a credit to their PSN account.
“‘Eligible Purchaser’ means any consumer who purchased the PlayStation Vita before June 1, 2012 and did not return it for a full refund.”
The FTC got wind of the false advertising and deceptive product reviews, investigated the claims, and ultimately sided with consumers, saying that the Sony PS Vita didn’t work as promised in November of 2014 by announcing the settlement.
— TURKRENO (@TurkReno) February 14, 2012
The FTC flat out states that not only do the live gaming and multiplayer gaming features not exist, but that the cross play feature requires a separate purchase — a purchase Sony did not disclose in the ad.
Additionally, the remote playing feature Sony specifically advertised to work with Killzone 3 in the TV ad did not work either.
In fact, the FTC said, “Sony never enabled remote play on its ‘Killzone 3’ game title.”
As for Deutsche LA, the FTC says the company got its employees to “review” and “advertise” the PS Vita from their personal accounts. The employees were told what to write and to append the hashtag #gamechanger to them, but it did not instruct them to disclose they worked for Deutsche LA.
In the final orders between the FTC, Sony, and Deutsche LA, each company respectively agreed to stop the false advertising.
In addition, Deutsche LA has to take the tweets down that don’t comply with the disclosure guidelines while Sony has to pay back PS Vita owners and set up a phone bank for owners with questions. Any non-compliance or violation of the order could result in fines.
Did you experience advertising issues or other problems with your Sony PS Vita?