Sony Sued by Parent Over Fortnite Purchases

Plaintiff Brandi Crawford filed a class action complaint against Sony Interactive Entertainment for its alleged failure to prevent minors from making in-app purchases without their parent’s permission, and for not offering any refunds for said purchases. Crawford alleges that Sony has violated the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act and California’s Unfair Competition Law and Business & Professions Code. The complaint was filed in the California Northern District Court. Crawford is represented by Excolo Law.

Sony sells applications (apps), including those for PlayStation devices, which the plaintiff alleges are geared towards children. These games allegedly entice users to make “In-App Purchases”; as a result of the supposed addictive nature of these games, children can make purchases for in-game currency, which can total more than $100 in real-life currency. Plaintiff Crawford is a parent/guardian who allowed her minor child to download a game she believed to be free from Sony; however, she received charges from the game for in-app purchases the child made without her permission or knowledge.

Crawford’s child started to play Fortnite on his PlayStation 4, for which he needed a PlayStation Network account. He made an account that allowed him to play the game and make purchases. He incurred more than $1,000 in charges on Crawford’s card without her permission from purchases in the game. Crawford alleges that Sony “does not employ effective measures to prevent minors from creating these accounts [which requires users to be a legal adult or to have a parent/guardian’s consent if a minor]. Minors frequently use their parents’ credit or debit cards as a means of securing payments for in-game purchases.” These funds are non-refundable and non-transferrable.

The plaintiff’s son was 10 years old when he made unauthorized purchases on his mother’s card. He made an account for PlayStation Network by himself and without his parents’ permission, which required him to create a username and password and provide information, such as contact information. He also had to agree to the Terms of Service and User Agreement. Crawford sought a refund but was denied. These transactions essentially involve Sony “entering into contracts with minors regarding property that is fundamentally not in the minors’ possession or control. Additionally, Sony “makes it nearly impossible for minors to obtain refunds for their transactions.”

Crawford has sought declaratory, equitable and monetary relief, as well as other relief determined by the court. She also sought certification of a class including “All persons in the United States who paid for a purchase of Game Currency made by their minor children without their knowledge or permission.”