SEOUL, Jul. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — A South Korean consumer watchdog has warned smartphone users to be vigilant when considering the refund policy of the augmented reality game Pokémon Go, which it says has unfair terms and conditions that many look over when they sign up and pay for the game.
To purchase items on the location-based augmented reality mobile game, players must buy virtual cash which is used as a currency in the game. However, to obtain a refund, users must return the cash untouched within seven days of purchase, the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) said on Monday.
This means that when a gamer buys 14,500 pocket coins, for example, which are worth 110,000 won in real life, but has used a small portion of the money to purchase 20 monster balls which sell for only 750 won, the gamer won’t be allowed to request a refund for the remaining currency.
“Compared to most South Korean online games, which offer a cash refund after deducting 10 percent as a cancellation fee, the terms and conditions of Pokémon Go’s return policy puts customers at a disadvantage, and need to be improved,” the KCA said.
Another point of criticism was aimed at how Pokémon Go is allowed to suspend an account without alerting users of the action ahead of time or providing information regarding ways to file a complaint.
When accounts were suspended in the past, the virtual money purchased on the account wasn’t refunded.
“(Pokémon Go’s) terms and conditions are in severe breach of consumer rights to use a service safely and also limit people’s legal rights to withdraw a subscription,” the KCA argued.
Other problematic clauses found in the terms and conditions include one which says the quality of content is not guaranteed, which gives legal grounds for the game maker to evade responsibility for errors or defects in the game, while another clause states that any safety or property accidents caused while playing the game are the responsibility of players.
The KCA says it is set to advise the operators of Pokémon Go in South Korea to improve and amend the unfair terms and conditions, and is more than willing to discuss the issue with the American nonprofit organization Better Business Bureau if necessary.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)