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Pokemon Go panned for unfair refunds policy

July 04,2017
A Pokemon Go player purchased roughly 150,000 won ($131) worth of virtual currency on Jan. 29. After a week the player requested a refund for the remaining cash and was refused.

Another player bought 121,000 won worth of the same currency on Feb. 5 to purchase an item that was never used. The player requested that the purchase be cancelled, but was also turned down.

These are just two examples of Pokemon Go players being denied refunds.

Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game that was once a global phenomenon, is being investigated for unfair terms and conditions imposed on consumers.

According to the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) on Monday, the game is facing mounting complaints from Korean consumers due to its refund policies. The KCA recommended Niantic, the developer of the game, revise some of the articles on the terms and conditions that are found to be unfair practices.

In order to purchase game items, players have to purchase the virtual currency “Pocket Coin.” But in order to get a refund the player can only request the return of their purchase within seven days and cannot have spent any of the virtual money at all.

When buying the virtual currency, players have to agree to a clause in the contract that states that the company will not offer refunds once transactions are made using the virtual currency or when items that have been purchased are used.

The KCA said many online games refund unused virtual currency after deducting a fee and therefore Pokemon Go needs to change its policy.

Additionally the company was also asked to make changes to an agreement where players’ accounts can be terminated or suspended without their knowledge and without explanation from the developer. Virtual currency that was purchased before the suspension or termination of the account is currently not refunded.

The KCA claims that this violates the right of the consumer to demand a cancellation of purchases they have made, which is protected under law.

It also raised issue with a clause that states Niantic does not guarantee the quality of the game, and is therefore refusing to offer compensation for errors and glitches.

“If necessary we will seek cooperation from the U.S. Bureau of Consumer Protection to solve the issue [as the developer’s headquarters is in San Francisco],” said a KCA official.


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]