Blogger Denied Refund for Game EA Won't Let Him Play

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Blogger Denied Refund for Game EA Won't Let Him Play

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Electronic Arts says Thomas Wetzel's nine-year-old son is too young to play Battlefield 1943 on Xbox Live but it refuses to refund the money Wetzel spent to buy it for him.

Thomas Wetzel likes to play videogames with his young son, so much that he bought the boy his own Xbox 360 so the two could play System Link games together. And when Crackdown 2 was released without System Link support, he bought him his own Xbox Live Gold subscription so they could play that together as well. On weekends, it's Battlefield 1943, which they took turns on until about a month ago, when Wetzel decided to get the youngster his own copy of the game through the Xbox Live Marketplace.

After dropping 15 bucks on 1200 Microsoft Points, downloading the game and struggling through an intensely glitchy online activation process which necessitated a call to EA support, he finally got it running. But when he attempted to accept EA's Terms of Service agreement, he was told he had to be at least 13 years old to play EA games online. And that's when his troubles began; his son's subscription is set to a child's account and as far as EA is concerned, that means that Wetzel the Younger can't play.

He contacted EA to request that either the game be made accessible or that he be given a refund but was told the best the company could offer him was a $20 credit at the EA Store. He declined, because there are no other EA games he's particularly interested in and even if there were, the company's refusal to let his son take part made it irrelevant. Running into a wall with EA, he took his case to Xbox Live Support, but the situation did not improve.

The first Live rep he spoke to assured Wetzel that she would do her best to assist him, whereupon she told him that all Marketplace sales are final and non-refundable and that child accounts are based upon the age of the account owner and cannot be changed to adult access until the owner reaches legal age. A second rep was even less helpful, telling him simply, "The option that you want us to process is not available."

Wetzel acknowledged that some people may have reservations about letting a nine-year-old boy play M-rated games online but pointed out that as the parent, it's his decision to make. More to the point, EA made gave no indication of a minimum age requirement to play the game until after it had taken his money. "There's a standard ESRB rating on the game of T - but those are a guideline to inform parents - not a lawful minimum age to play games online," he wrote. "Halo and Crackdown are both rated M, and I play those with my nine year old all the time; this may not make me the greatest parent ever, but it's harmless fun and he's smart enough to know that what's happening on screen is as real as a Bugs Bunny cartoon."

There's no question that EA is within its rights to set age limits for T and M-rated games but if it's going to do that it should make the situation clear up front, before points are spent or, failing that, it needs to make things right by coming across with a refund. If it had done that in the first place this whole thing would've blown over as annoying and perhaps a bit silly; instead, it's yet another thumb jammed into EA's public relations eye.

Wetzel said he's hopeful that a telephone conversation with another Xbox customer support rep scheduled for tomorrow will yield results but in the meantime he has some advice for parents who enjoy gaming online with their kids. "Don't use your kids' real ages when you create Xbox Live Gold accounts for them, or you'll find yourself with a fine collection of EA games you can't play online," he wrote on LMNOpc.com. "I'm glad Tommy's on a 12-month Xbox Live Gold card and I'm going to double- and triple-check that it's not set to auto-renew because I'm sure as hell not wasting any more money on that."

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I get the vibe this guy is just exploiting the media to get something free - it's pretty widely known what the risks of entering the "correct" date of birth when you're under-age are; and whilst it's perhaps something for these companies to consider another, louder group of people would complain were it not there. EA, [and Microsoft, who for some reason the person seems to be threatening despite the company having nothing to do with it] can't win either way.

When you buy a game from the marketplace it's specifically stated you can't gain a refund in large bold letters...

I don't understand why it is so hard for Xbox to just let him play... isn't that what the password in the account set-up was for?

D_987:
...it's pretty widely known what the risks of entering the "correct" date of birth when you're under-age are...

I largely agree with your post, but had to respond to this bit. Mainly because it's true and shouldn't be. Punishing people for honesty and (worse, in my opinion) taking away a parents right to decide how to raise their child in a way which doesn't conflict with the law, is absolutely unacceptable from any company. EA does not get to raise other peoples children for them. That's not their damn business.

SwimmingRock:

D_987:
...it's pretty widely known what the risks of entering the "correct" date of birth when you're under-age are...

I largely agree with your post, but had to respond to this bit. Mainly because it's true and shouldn't be. Punishing people for honesty and (worse, in my opinion) taking away a parents right to decide how to raise their child in a way which doesn't conflict with the law, is absolutely unacceptable from any company. EA does not get to raise other peoples children for them. That's not their damn business.

I agree, and stated as much with the "it's something for these companies to consider" - but I don't see what choice EA have beyond doing what they're doing.

D_987:
I get the vibe this guy is just exploiting the media to get something free - it's pretty widely known what the risks of entering the "correct" date of birth when you're under-age are; and whilst it's perhaps something for these companies to consider another, louder group of people would complain were it not there. EA, [and Microsoft, who for some reason the person seems to be threatening despite the company having nothing to do with it] can't win either way.

When you buy a game from the marketplace it's specifically stated you can't gain a refund in large bold letters...

It might be true that it says that he's not allowed to get a refund, but the issue here is that EA and Microsoft didn't make it clear that his kid wouldn't be allowed to play the game because he was too young until AFTER he bought the thing. That's the issue, and that's why he's mentioning this.

CustomMagnum:
It might be true that it says that he's not allowed to get a refund, but the issue here is that EA and Microsoft didn't make it clear that his kid wouldn't be allowed to play the game because he was too young until AFTER he bought the thing. That's the issue, and that's why he's mentioning this.

That's... actually not true at all; this is the quote from the Xbox live descriptive box [as taken from Xbox.com]:

Battlefield 1943 is a multiplayer-only game that lets you enjoy the thrills of Pacific WW2 battles! Pick your path - be it as a rifleman, a steel fisted tank commander, or ace fighter pilot dog fighting to protect the skies. Play as a lone wolf or with your friends, coordinating to turn the tide of battle. This game requires the Xbox 360 hard drive for storage. There are no refunds for this item. Multiplayer only. For more information, see www.xbox.com/live/accounts. REGISTRATION AND GOLD SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED. EA ONLINE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND FEATURE UPDATES ARE FOUND AT www.ea.com. YOU MUST BE 13+ TO REGISTER WITH EA ONLINE. EA MAY PROVIDE CERTAIN INCREMENTAL CONTENT AND/OR UPDATES FOR NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE, IF AND WHEN AVAILABLE. EA MAY RETIRE THIS GAME AFTER 30 DAYS NOTICE POSTED ON www.ea.com. There are no refunds for this item. For more information, see www.xbox.com/live/accounts

As you can see: "YOU MUST BE 13+ TO REGISTER WITH EA ONLINE."

and

"There are no refunds for this item."

Are clearly stated; whether they're stated clearly enough is another matter [though I also beleive there is an age rating on the game description page of Xbox Live] but it's all there. Perhaps if Microsoft read the accounts age and warned the buyer before purchase this could have been avoided, but it's partially his own fault.

D_987:

CustomMagnum:
It might be true that it says that he's not allowed to get a refund, but the issue here is that EA and Microsoft didn't make it clear that his kid wouldn't be allowed to play the game because he was too young until AFTER he bought the thing. That's the issue, and that's why he's mentioning this.

That's... actually not true at all; this is the quote from the Xbox live descriptive box [as taken from Xbox.com]:

Battlefield 1943 is a multiplayer-only game that lets you enjoy the thrills of Pacific WW2 battles! Pick your path - be it as a rifleman, a steel fisted tank commander, or ace fighter pilot dog fighting to protect the skies. Play as a lone wolf or with your friends, coordinating to turn the tide of battle. This game requires the Xbox 360 hard drive for storage. There are no refunds for this item. Multiplayer only. For more information, see www.xbox.com/live/accounts. REGISTRATION AND GOLD SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED. EA ONLINE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND FEATURE UPDATES ARE FOUND AT www.ea.com. YOU MUST BE 13+ TO REGISTER WITH EA ONLINE. EA MAY PROVIDE CERTAIN INCREMENTAL CONTENT AND/OR UPDATES FOR NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE, IF AND WHEN AVAILABLE. EA MAY RETIRE THIS GAME AFTER 30 DAYS NOTICE POSTED ON www.ea.com. There are no refunds for this item. For more information, see www.xbox.com/live/accounts

... Oh, okay. I was just going by what the article itself just said here, but if that's not the case then he has no leg to stand on then.

So here we have a responsible parent who actively engages with the joyous past-time of video games with his son. So adamant is he about the fact he goes and purchases a second console so the father and son's co-op play is not stunted by the current gen's inability for decent couch co-op. Then he buys the game online legitimately, with the account intended to play it, only to be told once he's bought it he can't play it.

Honestly this guy is everything we should be trying to defend when it comes to the modern video gamer. It's dick moves like this that cause people to turn to piracy. EA's not doing too well for themselves lately are they?

I realize that refunds for digital downloads are a tricky business but they know this guy hasn't played the game at all so I think it's pretty crummy that they won't refund his money.

However they do make it pretty clear that they don't offer refunds so the $20 credit seems fair.

Everything should just go back to the good old days when ratings weren't enforced and the parents were actually able to help their children play violent games.

Andy Chalk:

Thomas Wetzel likes to play videogames with his young son, so much that he bought the boy his own Xbox 360 so the two could play System Link games together. And when Crackdown 2 was released without System Link support, he bought him his own Xbox Live Gold subscription so they could play that together as well. On weekends, it's Battlefield 1943, which they took turns on until about a month ago, when Wetzel decided to get the youngster his own copy of the game through the Xbox Live Marketplace.

That is the sweetest thing I've heard in god knows when

In short: his own fault. It's clearly saying on the front page at least 13 years old, so he's digging his own grave.

asinine restrictions, a buggy and nearly-unusable online registration system, poor customer service, and of course no refund for a product you can't use. sounds like par for the course for EA.

i have always wondered why halo has been rated pegi 18? there really isn't that much blood in it and there never was any gore. Swearing? What? someone said shit twice? I'm getting way off subject here though. Can't he modify the account info and contact xbox customer support so that they can play the game?

The less squeakers on Xbox Live the better, frankly.

Andy Chalk:
There's no question that EA is within its rights to set age limits for T and M-rated games but if it's going to do that it should make the situation clear up front, before points are spent or, failing that, it needs to make things right by coming across with a refund.

See post 7 - the article is highly inaccurate; as on both accounts EA do state, in the item description, that the player must be 13+, and that no refund is possible.

aashell13:
and of course no refund for a product you can't use. sounds like par for the course for EA.

Do explain how EA are meant to work out if the player has deleted the game from his hard-drive when they offer a refund? This isn't Steam on which games can be removed from your account.

D_987:

When you buy a game from the marketplace it's specifically stated you can't gain a refund in large bold letters...

And yet, you can get a refund under the right circumstances. If "NO REFUNDS" was strictly enforced, they'd have a massive suit on their hands.

Zachary Amaranth:
And yet, you can get a refund under the right circumstances. If "NO REFUNDS" was strictly enforced, they'd have a massive suit on their hands.

Do you have evidence to suggest they have offered refunds in the past?

I don't understand why there isn't some kind of block that prevents these "child accounts" from buying games that are apparently locked to them if they are underage other than to STEAL MONEY like they are doing with this. Honestly I'd be pretty pissed too knowing that I paid for a service that I didn't recieve, and that being a parent I can't somehow change rules on age requirement games for my son.

Xbox Live/EA you are garbage.

D_987:
As you can see: "YOU MUST BE 13+ TO REGISTER WITH EA ONLINE."

and

"There are no refunds for this item."

Are clearly stated; whether they're stated clearly enough is another matter [though I also beleive there is an age rating on the game description page of Xbox Live] but it's all there. Perhaps if Microsoft read the accounts age and warned the buyer before purchase this could have been avoided, but it's partially his own fault.

Yes, "register". His father registered for him. His father is, presumably, over the age of 13. There is nothing in there about how old you have to be to play it.

mdk31:

Yes, "register". His father registered for him. His father is, presumably, over the age of 13. There is nothing in there about how old you have to be to play it.

Now you're just arguing semantics; as though the console is going to read that his father, and not the account holder, bought the game...well I guess with Kinect it could be possible but it's still a pretty moronic argument at best.

D_987:

Zachary Amaranth:
And yet, you can get a refund under the right circumstances. If "NO REFUNDS" was strictly enforced, they'd have a massive suit on their hands.

Do you have evidence to suggest they have offered refunds in the past?

Yup. Got one myself because of problems with a game/license. You can probably find other people here who have done the same.

I mean, honestly, do you seriously think "absolutely no refunds ever!" would hold up in court?

... Buggy online activation?

Yeah, OK, the main issue here is the age restriction. But that brings to mind my issues with Atari.

It was a PC game, so DRM of some kind for a digital download was to be expected... But after half a dozen emails with their sales & technical support staff, the bottom line is they didn't give me what I needed to play the game.
And it'd be 100% useless were it not for the easy availability of cracks & Serial codes on the internet.

In other words; Pay them your money, get nothing in return.
It's that kind of shoddy customer service, and complete disregard for any kind of consumer rights that makes industries involved with Intellectual Property look like colossal assholes that somehow get away with murder (and have the legal backing for it to boot.)
If this were a consumer good, food, etc. There'd be all kinds of consumer protection laws in effect, and yet somehow, we put up with not even being allowed a refund at all, regardless of the issue.

That's just not right.

Zachary Amaranth:
Yup. Got one myself because of problems with a game/license. You can probably find other people here who have done the same.

I mean, honestly, do you seriously think "absolutely no refunds ever!" would hold up in court?

Ok, let's re-phrase the question so I can get a more specific view; have you, or do you have any evidence to suggest anyone, has received a refund on an Xbox Live Arcade game due to anything other than a technical error [which this was not]?

D_987:

mdk31:

Yes, "register". His father registered for him. His father is, presumably, over the age of 13. There is nothing in there about how old you have to be to play it.

Now you're just arguing semantics; as though the console is going to read that his father, and not the account holder, bought the game...well I guess with Kinect it could be possible but it's still a pretty moronic argument at best.

No, it's not. The terms of use say nothing about how old you have to be to play it. Denying the right to play a game without specifically saying so in the terms of use strikes me as moronic.

D_987:
I get the vibe this guy is just exploiting the media to get something free - it's pretty widely known what the risks of entering the "correct" date of birth when you're under-age are; and whilst it's perhaps something for these companies to consider another, louder group of people would complain were it not there. EA, [and Microsoft, who for some reason the person seems to be threatening despite the company having nothing to do with it] can't win either way.

When you buy a game from the marketplace it's specifically stated you can't gain a refund in large bold letters...

D_987:

CustomMagnum:
snip

That's... actually not true at all; this is the quote from the Xbox live descriptive box [as taken from Xbox.com]:

snip

That is dirty politics. What they did isn't legally wrong, but it is morally reprehensible. And people constantly make excuses for companies in this situation. He bought the game on the kids Live membership. Why was he allowed to buy it? They didn't stop him then, but they did stop him from playing a game that he should never have been allowed to buy. Why isn't there a simple parental locking mechanism for this situation where the kids parent can give an ok for the kid to play it? Bars don't sell beer to kids, then call the police on the kids for underage drinking. Why is this situation reversed?

Also, as far as I'm concerned, the father is the legal guardian of the child, and by all rights he should be allowed to change the childs age on the account so he could at least play it. He shot himself in the foot again by being honest in this situation. He should have called them up and say he entered the wrong age for his sons live membership. But he is an honest guy, and him and his son are now paying the price for that.

It's an example of a broken system and people should not be making excuses for it. The guy was honest, he isn't manipulating the system to get something for free, he is simply trying to get a refund for a product that no one can play on that system. Honest people shouldn't be made to lie just so they can use the items they buy.

OT: Though it's morally reprehensible, and I would love to sit here and think of ways that these other two fellas are wrong, the guy should have paid more attention. Microsoft and EA are both guilty of being terrible to their customers, exploiting customers, and overall lousy business practices (We all know how bad EA is). I wish to hell the guy paid more attention. Microsoft could fix this if they wanted, they could change the birth date on the kids profile, but they won't. The problem is the broken system the companies endorse.

I wish these folks all the luck in the world though.

mdk31:
No, it's not. The terms of use say nothing about how old you have to be to play it. Denying the right to play a game without specifically saying so in the terms of use strikes me as moronic.

If they absolutely need to idiot proof their systems I'd agree, but I don't agree that anyone with even the most basic understanding of language could mis-interpret that information. It's crystal clear you must be 13+ to register to EA Online, and that EA Online controls the games content - all information any reader can quickly gather from that print. Had they included a large, more detailed list you'd have complained the text was hidden purposely.

awesome_ninja:
In short: his own fault. It's clearly saying on the front page at least 13 years old, so he's digging his own grave.

But that's after he bought the game, isn't it? If that's the case, wouldn't it be a little unfair to drop $15 for a game only to find out your song can't play and you can't get your money back?

EDIT: That, and they allowed the account registered to the 9-year old to buy the game. That's a bit shady to me, anyways.

Is EA trying to alienate gamers? First the DA2 forum ban incident and now this.

Well I see what the consensus seems focused on so I will say that this is an absolutely PERFECT example of why digital distribution is bad for the consumer and will only serve to hurt the industry.

Basically it boils down to no rights of ownership and the organization dictating how you use a product you purchased from them. All of this is basically irrelevant and quite frankly the only logical thing to do is to allow the account access to the game because it does not matter what the childs age is the second it was established the product was legally purchased by an adult, and provided the parent is actually parenting the child and knows what the child is doing. As the guy said It is something he purchased and HE chooses to allow his child to play it. Its not any game developers right to deny any consumer who legally purchased the game or dictate how the person who purchased the item chooses to use it. It was an adult who purchased the item in a legal fashion. EA has no legitimate right to deny an adult from accessing something they legally purchased, even if accessing it is under the watched hand of a minor, that is the way the adult wishes to access that specific account.

Dont get me wrong, I do fully understand EAs standpoint in keeping minors out of something not built for them, but it is not EAs job to raise our children, it is the parents job and the second it became clear that the item was purchased legally by an adult which consents for his child to use the product then any sort of block should have been lifted.

So heres a resolution that keeps everyone happy. Instead of pulling the dick move and saying NO! Even though there is a technicallity that contradicts our written rules" say, Ok, we cant allow your son to play it directly but because of the extenuating circumstance you can apply it to a secondary account under your name and move the property to the Seniors newly created account. Its accurate info supplied, the item has been paid for and the parent has the ability to give the Junior the access to it if the senior approves. Its not perfect but it basically satisfies everything of relevance.

I have never contacted EA personally, so I dont if their customer service is located in one of those places where English only rates a 4th language, but this REALLY sounds from the EA CSR standpoint sounds like this decision was made by one of those customer service reps from one of those locations who only know how to respond in prefabricated blurbs and lack the ability to think outside of the box in order to obtain an equitable resolution for all parties involved.

Yes one of the absolute worst things that has come out of this generation is that the notion of "The customer is always right" is in effect dead.

Baresark:
Though it's morally reprehensible, and I would love to sit here and think of ways that these other two fellas are wrong, the guy should have paid more attention. Microsoft and EA are both guilty of being terrible to their customers, exploiting customers, and overall lousy business practices (We all know how bad EA is). I wish to hell the guy paid more attention.

This is the only important bit; we can have all the arguments over morals and so forth, but at the end of the day the person in question didn't pay attention - and legally lost their money as a result. The system should be fixed, but I don't agree by any means that it's entirely the big companies fault here.

Thank god EA is looking out for its audience and protecting the young minds of children so they're not corrupted /sarcasm.

Can't they just make a new live account with the age set high enough?

I don't have an Xbox so I'm not really sure how it works, but I do know that my friend has several different profiles on his Xbox. Is it because the console can only have 1 "control" account? What happens if you get a second hand Xbox? Are you screwed if the previous owner was a child?

I can see EA having opt-in parent controls.

I can even see EA having opt-OUT parent controls.

But making your own laws and overruling parental authority is bullshit.

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