Sony refuses to sanction PS3 refunds

Sony says that it has no intention of reimbursing retailers if they offer fat PS3 users partial refunds because of the removal of the Install Other OS function.

Last week, the first PS3 user successfully secured a partial refund from Amazon UK as compensation for the removal of the ability to run Linux on the console.

The punter quoted European law in order to persuade the online retailer that the goods he had bought in good faith were no longer fit for purpose because of the enforcement of firmware update 3.21, which meant that users who chose to keep the Other OS functionality would lose the ability to play the latest games or connect to the PlayStation Network.

Sony was accused of contravening the Sale of Goods Act and more than one forum poster across the web suggested that a class action suit might be in order.

But Sony is standing fast, insisting it has done nothing wrong as the company's PR head honcho David Wilson told us. "We do understand the frustration a small number of consumers may feel at SCE's decision to provide an upgrade to the firmware to disable the Linux operating system but we refute any suggestion that this action is in any way a contravention of the terms of Sale of Goods Act," he said.

The fact that the ability to install Linux was heavily promoted when the console was launched by Sony Computer Entertainment (the word 'computer' is important here) seems to hold little sway for the company or its spokesman.

"The PS3 is first and foremost a games console and our marketing materials for the console reflect this," said Wilson. "The console packaging and the in-box manual for the console do not refer to the use of Linux on the console. Rather, the console packaging states that the product's design and specifications are subject to change without notice and that the system software within the console is subject to a limited licence between SCE and the consumer, and this licence permits SCE to update the system software and services offered from time to time."

The fact of the matter is that no end of complex Terms and Conditions, or even the most draconian End User License Agreements (EULA) have the power to override the law of the land, and Sony is fully aware of this. The company knows that it is protected by those same laws.

"The provision in the Sale of Goods Act which requires an item to be fit for a purpose made known by the consumer to the retailer prior to purchase and confirmed by the retailer applies only to the contract between the retailer and the consumer," Sony told us. "The decision by Amazon to give a consumer a partial refund is clearly between Amazon and the consumer, but we do not expect the decision to have a legal basis and we have no plans to compensate retailers."

So it looks like fat PS3 owners have three choices:

1. Continue using Linux but give up the ability to download games from the PlayStation store, play disk-based PS3 games which require version 3.21 or higher, play Blu-Ray Disks which require profile updates or download movie.

2. Give up Linux altogether and use the PS3 the way Sony now wants you to use it.

3. Get an £84 refund from your retailer and put the money towards an XBox.

There is, of course, a fourth way. You could wait for the hackers who caused these shenanigans in the first place to release a fiddled firmware update which would allow you to do all of the above.