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

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Blogger Denied Refund for Game EA Won't Let Him Play


Electronic Arts says Thomas Wetzel's nine-year-old son is too young to play Battlefield 1943 [http://www.battlefield1943.com/] 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 [http://www.amazon.com/Crackdown-2-Xbox-360/dp/B002BRZ8BQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300154120&sr=8-1] 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 Halo [http://www.esrb.org] 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 [http://www.lmnopc.com/2011/03/14/psa-when-signing-up-for-xbox-live-lie-about-your-kids-age/]. "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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D_987

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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...
 

ArcticSquirrel

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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?
 

SwimmingRock

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D_987 said:
...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.
 

D_987

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SwimmingRock said:
D_987 said:
...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.
 

CustomMagnum

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D_987 said:
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.
 

D_987

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CustomMagnum said:
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.
 

CustomMagnum

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D_987 said:
CustomMagnum said:
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.
 

Deshin

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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?
 

Hungry Donner

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Mar 19, 2009
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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.
 

Ultra Man30

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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.
 

automatron

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Andy Chalk said:
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
 

awesome_ninja

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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.
 

aashell13

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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.
 

twaddle

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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?
 

D_987

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Andy Chalk said:
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 said:
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.
 

Something Amyss

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D_987 said:
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.
 

D_987

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Zachary Amaranth said:
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?
 

Vigilantis

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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.