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Sony to provide consumer refunds to settle FTC charges of misleading ads for PlayStation Vita

Sony-psvitaBy Bridget Small, Consumer Education Specialist

Federal Trade Commission

If a company promises a new and innovative handheld gaming console, you’d expect the features to work as described in their ads, right?

That wasn’t the case with ads for the PlayStation Vita. And now the company will offer partial refunds to eligible buyers, according to Sony’s settlement with the FTC, announced Tuesday.

In 2012, Sony and its advertising agency, Deutsch LA, promoted the PS Vita on the Internet and in promotional videos, TV commercials, and stores.

Ads said you’d “Never stop playing” and showed users enjoying the “remote play,” “cross save,” and real-time 3G features. But the FTC said that despite the ads’ promises, customers really couldn’t use remote play to run most PS3 games on the PS Vita – not even Killzone 3, the PS3 game Sony featured in its promotional video explaining remote play.

And the claims that you could “cross save” by pausing a game on one system and resuming it on another? Sony didn’t tell that you actually had to have two copies of the same game for this feature to work.

What about the live, multiplayer game sessions that looked exciting in the ads? The PS Vita couldn’t do that, even if you bought the 3G version.

The main point? The PS Vita ads deceived people into buying a product that didn’t work as promised, according to the FTC.

What’s different about the settlement announced Tuesday is that it’s not just Sony on the hook. The FTC said Sony’s advertising agency, Deutsch, knew or should have known that the PS Vita didn’t work as advertised – yet they created the ads anyway.

Not only that, according to the FTC, Deutsch had its employees tweet about the PS Vita from their personal Twitter accounts, but didn’t tell their employees to mention that they worked for Sony’s ad agency – something required by the FTC’s Endorsement Guidelines.

So what’s next? Sony and Deutsch have agreed not do this kind of thing again. And Sony will give money back to people who bought the PS Vita, if they’re eligible. The process for requesting refunds hasn’t been determined.

Copyright 2014, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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