UK gov is probing Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony's auto-renewal policies


Just how easy is it to leave Xbox Live?

IT’S PROBABLY NOT the most pressing piece of government business on the table, but if you’ve ever rolled your eyes at the way your Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus or Switch Online subscription automatically renews, then you may be cheered to hear that the government is looking into it.

Well, not the government itself, but the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) – an independent, non-ministerial government department which keeps an eye on mergers, markets and consumer law. That’s probably for the best: now’s not the time to be bothering Theresa May about your Xbox Live account, all things considered.

The CMA is interested in whether these online gaming services are unfair, and has written to all three companies to “better understand their practices.” Though what they could find out this way than, say, reading the T&Cs is anybody’s guess.

As well as auto-renewal, the CMA is curious about whether the contracts are fair, if they’re too hard to cancel or get a refund, and how clearly the companies outline the process for gamers.

“Our investigation will look into whether the biggest online gaming companies are being fair with their customers when they automatically renew their contracts, and whether people can easily cancel or get a refund,” said Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive.

“Should we find that the firms aren’t treating people fairly under consumer protection law, we are fully prepared to take action,” he added, ominously.

If you happen to feel strongly about Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft’s auto-renewing contracts, you don’t need to comment below the line here: the CMA actually wants to hear from you.

“If you are a gamer with a current or expired membership for online gaming for any of the products listed here, the CMA would like to hear from you,” the body states, encouraging impacted users to pop their angry rants in an email to [email protected].

We pity the poor sap who has to check that email address. µ

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