Sony slammed by FTC for misleading ads


FTC / Federal Trade CommissionClaims made about PlayStation and handheld PlayStation Vita left out more than a few important details, according to the FTC, and the result will be a large restitution bill for Sony Computer Entertainment.

Sony has agreed to settle the matter in response to FTC charges that it deceived customers with false advertising.

“As we enter the year’s biggest shopping period, companies need to be reminded that if they make product promises to consumers — as Sony did with the “game changing” features of its PS Vita — they must deliver on those pledges,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC will not hesitate to act on behalf of consumers when companies or advertisers make false product claims.”

At the heart of the issue is that claim that users of the PS3 game could stop and pick up right where they left off on the Vita handheld version. In truth, the feature was available on only a handful of games, and the customer had to buy game twice, once for PS3 and again for Vita.

FTC said there’s more: “The FTC’s complaint also alleges that Sony’s PS Vita ads falsely implied that consumers who owned the 3G version of the device (which cost an extra $50 plus monthly fees) could engage in live, multi-player gaming through a 3G network. In fact, consumers could not engage in live, multiplayer gaming.”

The ad agency is also cited: “The FTC also alleges that Deutsch LA further misled consumers by urging its employees to create awareness and excitement about the PS Vita on Twitter, without instructing employees to disclose their connection to the advertising agency or its then-client Sony. Under a separate settlement order, Deutsch LA is barred from such conduct in the future.”

Describing the terms, FTC stated, “As part of its settlement with the FTC, Sony is barred from making similarly misleading advertising claims in the future, and will provide consumers who bought a PS Vita gaming console before June 1, 2012, either a $25 cash or credit refund, or a $50 merchandise voucher for select video games, and/or services. Sony will provide notice via email to consumers who are eligible for redress after the settlement is finalized by the Commission.”

PS Vita has been sold since 2012, at a cost of about $250 per unit.