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Online game rose rapidly to first place in consumer complaints for the first time in 2017

Date:2019-02-13
Source:Department of Consumer Protection

The Department of Consumer Protection, Executive Yuan, Taiwan (hereinafter referred to as the DCP) made an analysis of consumer complaints and mediation cases handled municipal and county (and city) governments in 2017. A total of 54,255 cases were accepted, a decrease of 2,199 from 2016. There were a total number of 3,102 complaints related to online games, an increase of 329 compared with 2016, making this the first time online games took first place. The second type included 3,011 cases related to pieces of clothing, leather goods and footwear, plus 2,839 related to telecom communications, 2,555 related to communication devices and various peripheral products, as well as 1,449 related to cram schools.

The main reason for disputes in the online game category is that the game accounts were suspended for no reason and the connection quality was bad. Leather goods and footwear category was mainly complained for not given a 7-day cooling period. Telecom had a greater number of disputes from combination package users of Chunghwa Telecom's MOD 2017 no-warning reduction package channels. Mobile phones, batteries and peripheral products dominated communication and peripheral products are mainly appealed for defects. "Tuition" is due to the number of hours of course attended by consumers exceeding one-third of the total number of course hours.

The types of common disputes in the first online game category of consumer complaints can be explained as follows:

Case study #1: A player’s account is suspended for no reason or warning. The player wanted to play the game as usually, he saw the following message when logging in: "Email has not passed authentication or the account has been frozen." This means that the game company has permanently suspended his or her account due to the plug-in dispute.

Plug-ins destroy the fairness of a game, involving such factors as quick improvement of characters’ skills and levels in the game. For serious violations, they are usually subject to a suspension or termination of the contract. If the operator finds that the player has violated the management rules of the game, the current mandatory and prohibitory provisions of the online game standard contract (hereinafter referred to as the mandatory provisions of the online game standard contract) require the operator to notify the player of any violation in advance. In principle, when notified without any improvements being made, it becomes requisite to limit the player's game usage rights in accordance with the seriousness of the circumstances. Exceptions include the player’s use of plugins in an unfair and inequitable manner for games that constitute a significant event. A business operator can terminate a contract immediately after notifying the player in writing or by e-mail.

Case study #2: Responsibility can be attributed to the poor quality of the connection, which results in harm to a player's rights and interests

A player may find that they often lose their connection when playing a popular game. After losing the connection, it can take a long time to log back in, and after logging in, they discover that the virtual treasure has disappeared. The quality of the network connection affects the smoothness of the game. According to the mandatory provisions of the online game standard contract, the operator must ensure that its system equipment is free of errors, pauses, delays, interruptions or the inability to connect. In the event that the player service cannot be provided, the operator should return the stored value deducted, waive the equivalent game fee, or postpone the time for the player.

Case study #3: A player's game account has been stolen, and the game company has rejected the player's request that the virtual item be recovered.

A player went online and found that the game account and virtual items were stolen and had probably been sold. When the game company was requested to recover the property, the player was merely advised to safeguard the account and password and refused to do anything else to resolve the issue.

When a player found the account password and electromagnetic records stolen and improperly transferred, according to the mandatory provisions of the online game standard contract, the operator should be immediately notified in order to verify the problem, and after verification, the operator should temporarily freeze the account. If the player uses a safety device provided by the operator, the operator is responsible for assisting in the return of the stolen item. If the player cannot get stolen virtual items back, both parties can agree other compensation. If the safety device provided by the operator is not used, the operator can only provide assistance for stolen items that have not been obtained in good faith by a third party.

In such above-mentioned online game disputes, the relevant mandatory and prohibitory provisions of the online game standard contract can be claimed by consumers. In order to construct a friendly online consumer environment, the DCP recently invited competent authorities and business operators to discuss, in several meetings, how to reduce the number of consumer complaint cases. In addition, press releases such as "Spring Festival Online Games and Related Rights" and other news has been released to remind consumers of their rights and interests. In the event of an online game consumer dispute, players can go to the Online Game Appeal Service Mailbox of the Industrial Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (http://www.gameservice.org.tw) or the Consumer Protection Committee website (https://cpc.ey.gov.tw/) in order to lodge an online appeal, or call the 1950 Consumer Service Line to appeal to local government consumer service centers.