Sony dropped an anti-consumerist bomb in their latest Terms of Service for the PlayStation Network: waiving your rights to a class-action lawsuit.
This is likely a reaction to the PSN outage debacle from earlier in the year (ancient history among short-memoried gamers). While many would scoff at the chutzpah of this move and dismiss it as unenforcable or downright illegal, there is a precedent at the level of the Supreme Court in the US that makes many believe that this would be upheld at the highest level.
According to an article on CorporateWhistleBlower.com:
[…] the Supreme Court has voted 5-to-4 in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion to allow AT&T to require its customers to waive their right to participate in class-action lawsuits against the company. Class-action lawsuits are ones in which the plaintiff sues the defendant on behalf of all people similarly situated for harm the defendant has caused the group, or “class.” Class actions are indispensible for the protection of workers and consumers because they empower plaintiffs to sue in cases where corporate wrongdoing has not caused each member of the class enough monetary harm to justify individual lawsuits.
The site goes on to point out that with this decision, “the Supreme Court has provided corporations with a model of how to avoid liability for the very types of wrongdoing that class-action lawsuits were uniquely equipped to defend against.”
None of us at VGW are lawyers, but the writing here seems to suggest that Sony can actually get away with this blatant side-stepping of consumer protections, at least in the US.
However, as user ThinkWeak on slashdot pointed out, there is a remedy written into the ToS for consumers who do not want to roll over for Sony.
On page 17 of the full Terms of Service, (section 15 paragraph 3), there is the following helpful information, capitalized to indicate that they are yelling at you for some reason:
RIGHT TO OPT OUT OF BINDING ARBITRATION AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER WITHIN 30 DAYS. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE BOUND BY THE BINDING ARBITRATION AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER IN THIS SECTION 15, YOU MUST NOTIFY SNEI IN WRITING WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE THAT YOU ACCEPT THIS AGREEMENT. YOUR WRITTEN NOTIFICATION MUST BE MAILED TO 6080 CENTER DRIVE, 10TH FLOOR, LOS ANGELES, CA 90045, ATTN: LEGAL DEPARTMENT/ARBITRATION AND MUST INCLUDE: (1) YOUR NAME, (2) YOUR ADDRESS, (3) YOUR PSN ACCOUNT NUMBER, IF YOU HAVE ONE, AND (4) A CLEAR STATEMENT THAT YOU DO NOT WISH TO RESOLVE DISPUTES WITH ANY SONY ENTITY THROUGH ARBITRATION.
So there you have it. A simple old-school snail-mail will allow you to both enjoy the PSN service and maintain your given rights as a US or [INSERT YOUR STATE HERE] citizen. Don’t you love living in the 21st century?
[special thanks to Samantha Bigger for her contributions to this story.]