In September Sony updated their PSN user agreement to prevent users from participating in class action lawsuits. With the December XBL update, Microsoft has followed suit, except users have no opt-out option this time around. We would be remiss if we did’t take Microsoft to task about this after bashing EA and Sony for it. It’s particularly irritating that Microsoft is forcing its users into this when their only other option is to stop using XBox Live.
Kotaku breaks down exactly why this is TOS update is so egregious:
Unlike courts, whose outcomes are decided by juries (who can by sympathetic towards consumers battling multinational corporations), decisions made via private arbitration often find in favour of businesses, and even when siding with consumers offer relatively small payouts.
You normally can’t appeal the findings of a private arbitration hearing, nor is there an independent or public means of reviewing an arbitrator’s decisions. They are also designed to be conducted privately, out of the public eye.
It’s a move designed, in essence, to steamroll your rights as a consumer. To ensure that even if Microsoft screws something up, or something terrible happens to the platform, any compensation or dispute will be handled on their terms, not those of a court and jury.
Before you say “what good would lawsuits do anyway?”, remember, it was an avalanche of class action suits that helped prompt Microsoft to fess up to the “Red Ring of Death” issue with the Xbox 360 and offer extended warranties.
It’s unfortunate that Microsoft, a company who recently has been leaving its bad guy days behind, has decided to take the same steps that such anti-consumer companies like Sony and EA have taken.