Sony Playstation South Africa overcharges on purchases

During my current issue getting a refund for the broken No Man’s Sky PS4 game I noticed a discrepancy of credit card charges vs the advertised product price for the game. I pre-ordered the game for R 899,00 on the South African Playstation Network store and received my SMS notification that my card was charged for the same amount as advertised on the Playstation South Africa store as shown below:

What I did not realise (and probably no-one else either) is that the SMS for the R899.00 purchase was only the authorisation and that subsequently Playstation Store South Africa would charge a “conversion fee” of roughly about 2,5%:

In the above statement I was charged R 921.48 for the R 899.00 game “No Man’s Sky“. The other charges of R 767.73 was for a R 749.00 game and the R 1,228.98 for a R 1,199.00 game:

Problematic is that the Playstation South Africa charges a settlement fee and a possible currency conversion fee which hardly any consumer will notice as those charges will happen days after the settlement occurs.

I have received feedback from Standard Bank South Africa that Playstation South Africa is operating as an “international merchant”:

Please note that the transaction has been processed as an international transaction.

International transactions will have a currency conversion fee applied, which has resulted in the higher charge.

Further to the currency conversion fee will be exchange rates which may result in a lower or higher than expected charge.

From all my records it seems that 2.5% is consistently charged at settlement. I am currently awaiting feedback from PASA and merchant services before I submit this complaint to the concerned regulatory bodies as this deceitful product pricing and levying charges which are not upfront made visible are surely a violation of the South African Consumer Protection Act.

It is also interesting to note that in February 2014 the use of 3d secure for online credit card transactions in South Africa has become compulsory for online merchants. Sony’s South African Playstation Network Store has to date not processed a single South African credit card transaction via 3d secure (this also possibly explains why they are still an “international merchant”).

Considering that in 2011 Sony suffered a massive data breach resulting in 77 million accounts being leaked which also included credit card details – Sony confirmed this:

Out of an abundance of caution, we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained

The above statement in itself is already puzzling as according to PCI compliance regulations no-one is allowed to store a full-credit card number and especially not the CVV-number (security code). It comes then as a complete surprise that 5 years later Sony South Africa has still not implemented 3d Secure (also called “Verified by Visa” or “MasterCard SecureCode”) on their e-commerce platform. Considering that South Africa has more than 15 million card-holders registered to use 3D Secure, it is completely irresponsible for a platform like Playstation Network to still offer unsecured online shopping for card-not-present transactions.

Update 8th September 2016: It is interesting to observe that many South African PSN users do not trust Sony with their credit card and rather use vouchers/wallet funding.

Update 8th September 2016: Amazing service from Payments Association of South Africa (PASA) – I dropped them an email regarding the above and they replied within minutes (and this at 6:30pm South African time)

Update 19th September 2016: Both Sony South Africa (PartServer) and SCEE have now ignored all correspondence from me and refuse to answer queries. A formal complaint has been lodged with the South African Advertising Association and further complaints are currently being compiled.

Update 20th September 2016: I have received acknowledgement from The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (short ASA) about my complaint against Sony South Africa and SCEE.

Update 20th September 2016: An interesting turn of events – I have now learned that a “2.5%” charge is also levied to a number of other purchases (i.e. Steam). I am still seeking clarification if this is specific to all Standard Bank customers, or if it applies just to me or if this applies to any South African customer.

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