Norway Accuses Nintendo of Breaking European Consumer Laws

Norwegian Consumer Council says Nintendo denies European customers refunds on pre-ordered games

The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) has accused Nintendo of illegally denying European customers refunds on pre-ordered games, Tech Crunch reports. According to the Council, Nintendo is the worst offender of the seven different video game companies it looked in its survey of digital game stores.

On Nintendo's eshop, the company states all pre-order sales are final, there are no options for a refund. According to the NCC, under the "the right of withdrawal laid down in the consumer rights directive, such terms are illegal." The Council adds that until a game's been launched and played, Nintendo has no right to prohibit users from cancelling pre-orders. 

"Nintendo needs to change their practice. They should comply with the law, and give consumers a clearway to execute their rights if they wish to cancel their order. Regardless of the system the platform has for pre-orders and refunds, the right of withdrawal should apply before the release date," Finn Myrstad, NCC director of digital policy, said. 

Issuing an open letter to Nintendo, the NCC asks the following questions to the company:

  • Can consumers freely cancel or withdraw from a pre-order or pre-purchase before the release of the game? 
  • If yes, how does the consumer proceed to forward such a claim? 
  • If not, please explain the legal reasoning. 

The Council further addresses the issue in its letter, saying, "The Consumer Rights Directive is applicable to sales of digital games purchased in the Nintendo eShop to consumers domiciled in EU and EEA countries. Domestic implementation of the directive applies to purchases made in Norway. 

"In accordance with article 16 (m) of the Consumer Rights Directive the consumer does not have the right of withdrawal if the supply of the digital content has begun with the consumer’s prior express consent and his acknowledgement that his consent entails that he thereby loses his right of withdrawal. 

"This exemption only applies to digital content where the performance has begun. The performance has not begun for games that have not yet been released. 

"Even with prior consent, Nintendo cannot, prohibit the consumer from cancelling or withdrawing from a digital content contract before the performance has begun."

As of writing, Nintendo has not released a statement on the matter. We've reached out to the company for comment and will update the story should we hear back.