European consumer authorities: Nintendo agrees to offer free repairs of controllers
Game company Nintendo has agreed to offer free repairs of controllers for its flagship game console the Nintendo Switch, even if the statutory warranty has expired. This is the result of a joint action against Nintendo taken by the European network of consumer authorities (Network of Consumer Protection Cooperation, or CPC). The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is a member of CPC. The CPC network took this action following an alert issued by BEUC, which is the umbrella organization of European consumer associations, regarding the problems with the Nintendo Switch. Due to a recurring technical issue, controllers became unresponsive. Nintendo has agreed to free repairs of these controllers, even if their warranty has already expired.
What was this case about?
Users of the Nintendo Switch console had filed complaints with, among other organizations, CPC authorities and consumer organizations about loss of control when playing games on the game console. The quality of the controllers already deteriorated soon after purchase, and the joysticks on the controllers sent commands without them being touched by the user. This rendered the controllers useless. Consumers that could not repair them easily and free of charge were left no choice but to replace them, resulting in unnecessary electronic waste. This technical problem known as the “Joy-Con drift” affected both Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite consoles. BEUC's member organizations had received nearly 25,000 consumer complaints about the Nintendo Switch console by January 2021. They subsequently filed a request for action with the CPC network. Nintendo has already agreed to inform consumers clearly on its website that all drift-related or response-related problems of the Joy-Con controllers will be repaired by Nintendo free of charge, even after the warranty period has expired.
Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Member of the Board of ACM, adds: “We are pleased with the result of this joint action. This is great news for consumers, and also for the environment. This will prevent electronic devices from being discarded or having to be replaced. We advise users to check Nintendo’s website when experiencing problems with their controllers. On its website, Nintendo explains how and under what conditions controllers can be sent for repairs, even beyond the warranty period.”
National authorities that are charged with enforcement of compliance with EU rules and regulations regarding consumer protection work together at the European level within the CPC network. In that context, the European Commission has a coordinating role. Actions are led by one or more CPC authorities. The legal basis for that has been laid down in the revised CPC Regulation concerning cooperation regarding consumer protection. The revised regulation offers authorities more powers than before to track down irregularities and to take swift action against rogue traders. This joint action was led by the Greek Ministry of Development and Investments and the German Environment Agency, and coordinated by the European Commission.
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