Sony and Nintendo are set to change the way they handle auto-renewing PlayStation Plus and Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions in the UK, after similar pro-consumer changes were made by Microsoft earlier this year.
Following an investigation by the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), Sony and Nintendo will be rolling out service changes that will make it harder for inactive subscribers to accidentally pay for services they no longer want.
Sony has agreed to stop accepting payments from PlayStation Plus members who haven’t used the service for a long time and to remind inactive subscribers how to stop paying for the service.
Nintendo, meanwhile, has already changed its renewal policy. Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions are no longer sold with auto-renewal set as the default options, preventing players from automatically signing up for monthly renewal contracts.
Previously, PlayStation Plus and Nintendo Switch Online charged players indefinitely until they actively terminated their subscription. This meant you could end up accidentally paying for services for months at a time because you forgot to cancel them.
The AMC said these changes will go some way to preventing that, by protecting consumers who often don’t know if their subscriptions automatically renew each month, as well as it’s difficult to turn off the auto-renewal process.
“As a result of our investigations, a number of changes have been made in this area to protect customers and help resolve issues with auto-renewing subscriptions,” said CMA Executive Director of Enforcement, Michael Grenfell.
“Today’s announcement therefore concludes our investigations into the online video game sector. Companies in other industries that offer auto-renewing subscriptions should review their practices to ensure they comply with consumer protection law.
Follow Microsoft’s example
The updates follow similar changes Microsoft made to its Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions earlier in the year. Like Sony, Microsoft will now remind inactive customers how to stop their subscription payments and possibly stop collecting them if they continue not to use their subscription.
The CMA later clarified to The Verge that these changes “to inactive subscriptions will initially be rolling out in the UK and will soon be available globally”, possibly suggesting that Sony and Nintendo will also be rolling out their changes globally.
Microsoft has also committed to adapting its refund policy. The company will now contact customers who have signed up for recurring 12-month plans and give them the option of terminating their contract, as well as providing a pro-rated refund for unused months they paid for without realizing it. account.
There’s still room for improvement, mind. PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass users still don’t have the option to turn off auto-renewal when first signing up for a subscription, meaning they’ll have to manually turn it off or rely on reminders from Microsoft and Sony. And if you forget to request a refund for any inactive you accidentally used, you’ll be left out of pocket.
This is certainly a step in the right direction and hopefully will help curb the aggressive subscription practices that are prevalent across all of technology. These changes could encourage other big companies to follow suit, including Amazon, which has long been criticized by consumer rights groups for obfuscating how to cancel your Prime membership.