PS+ trials: Don’t get caught out


Before Christmas one of our writers, Joe Bennett, activated a PS+ trial for one of our Christmas pieces. Two days after activating the trial, Joe unfortunately (but not surprisingly, seeing as he’s the Gamedot team’s equivalent of Mr Bump) fell down the stairs and broke his hand. He’s asked me to stress that it was nine fractures, to one metacarpal, and any flowers and chocolates are welcome. Actually just chocolates.

Seeing as he was (and still is) unable to hold a controller, he wasn’t able to make full use of the free trial. However, as his account wasn’t set to auto-fund, the trial would just lapse and he wouldn’t be charged anything. Right? Well, apparently not.

Last week Joe noticed a payment on his credit card bill for Sony. His first thought was that his account had been hacked but after some careful checking within his PS3 settings, and some double checking there after, it turns out that his subscription had been automatically renewed.

Joe contacted Sony who advised him that, even with his circumstances, and that auto-fund hadn’t been enabled, that they would not refund the payment, even though he could not use the subscription. Joe then asked whether they could just cancel the subscription and refund the amount into his PSN wallet for future purposes. Again they declined.

It was at this point that he was informed that PS+ subscriptions ignore the previous instruction of not auto-funding. The support team member informed him that PS+ operates differently to normal purchases and therefore you have to manually turn off the auto-renew setting regardless of what it was selected to before Joe started his trial.

After having asked for this matter to be escalated, Joe got a call back from a Supervisor at Sony support.

The Supervisor informed Joe that whilst they acknowledged that he would not be able to use the service due to injury, that he’d never intended for the subscription to renew as he had auto-funding off and even confirming that the PS+ subscription ignores the auto-fund option, they were not prepared to do anything about the matter.

This all sounds very confusing.

Although you may have previously set your settings to not auto-fund, it would appear, from the information Joe was given from both people he spoke to at Sony, that this setting will be ignored for the purpose of the PS+ subscription. The only option that guarantees you to not be charged again is to deselect the ‘auto renew’ option.

Even more confusing is the below statement which can be found in the Terms and Conditions:

“When you purchase a subscription using a Master Account, Automatic Funding for that Master Account will automatically be set to “On”. Automatic Funding is not available for Sub-Accounts. If, on the renewal date Automatic Funding is set to “On”, your payment method is registered with us and your wallet does not have enough funds to cover the subscription charge, your wallet will be funded automatically from your registered payment method with the greater of the minimum top-up amount or the renewal cost. Funds added to the wallet are non-refundable. You can switch Automatic Funding to “Off” at any time after purchase via Sony Entertainment Network Account Management. Some payment methods may not allow Automatic Funding.”

It would appear that Sony have employed a system whereby your wishes to not auto-fund payments are overwritten whenever you purchase a subscription, and each time you purchase another, you have to go back in and turn it off again.

This feels like questionable practice – if somebody has already confirmed that they do not wish to auto-fund their account, why force a change to that option?

Surely the very point of auto-fund is to ensure that no money can be spent after the funds in the wallet have been exhausted. What’s also concerning is that the support team member confirmed that many others have had similar issues with the ‘auto-renew’ ignoring ‘auto-fund settings’, and stressing that Joe should immediately deselect the ‘auto-renew’ option.

If that many people are being affected, what possible reason is there to continue with ignoring the auto-fund setting, other than to secure some unwanted auto-renews and cheap revenue?

If you have recently used a PlayStation Plus trial, or are a current subscriber but don’t intend to renew your subscription, we recommend you immediately check your settings and ensure that ‘auto-renewal’ is off, regardless of what your auto-funding status is set at.

And do also let us know in the comments if you have been affected by a subscription renewing on PS3, due to the confusion surrounding the auto-funding option.

We have contacted Sony for an official comment and will update the article if and when we receive one.

  • James Lockey

    Noticed this myself just the other day, sneaky bastards. Turned auto-renewal off, again! Was just by chance that I went into account settings tbh.

    • Liam

      I can see where they’re coming from with Joe, but if it goes against the rest of their system it is a very naughty bit of behaviour from them.

    • bigevilworldwide

      It’s not really being sneaky when it tells you every single time that you need to manually turn off auto-renew….It’s seriously not their fault that someone either chooses to ignore the font on their screen or is too lazy to read it…But it seriously tells you that every time

  • LockeTribal

    Very naughty from Sony, especially as they acknowledge that such an occurrence is fairly commonplace. Luckily I had heard about this when I signed up to PS+ and the first thing I did was to switch it off, but this article has made me want to double check.

    • bigevilworldwide

      It does tell you that EVERYTIME…Every single time it tells you that it is turning on auto-renew and that you have to manually turn it off. It’s not really sneaky when it puts the words in large font on the screen telling you

      • DarthDiggler

        Agreed, this whole article is based on someone not reading a few simple words that splash across your screen.

        Which part of this article explains that the guy in question was a moron?

        • Joe B

          That whole post is based on someone not reading a few simple sentences that splash across the screen.

          This isn’t about auto-renew being turned on. That shows. This is about auto-fund being turned on, regardless of what you have it set to before. Which, other than being a questionable tactic (as otherwise the auto-renew should try to renew from balance, see that there’s not enough, and then lapse rather than just take money from a card. I was physically unable to use my console due to he injury but felt fairly safe that auto-fund would stop it from renewing as there wasn’t enough in my PSN account to fund it) it also presents a security flaw.

          For example, if you have auto-fund turned off so that a child can buy things but only from the balance you have funded the account with and allowed them to spend, but a savvy child (or even a completely honest one) goes on and either enters in a PS+ trial code or sets up a PS+ sub with the amount they’ve had the account funded with, they’ve suddenly got access to purchase anything in the store, as auto-fund is turned on without the permission of the credit card holder.

      • Joe

        Yep… no sympathy here. I’ve activated a lot of these and every time it states this on the screen. It takes about 30 seconds of my time to disable. I don’t agree with the practice but if you don’t read what you agree to when it’s staring right at you…. that’s your own fault.

  • Andy

    Just before christmas my PSplus auto renewed which i never wanted to happen. Really disappointed that it took the money from my account when I never had auto funds on previously

  • Simon K

    That was an interesting read and it shows really bad marketing approaches there by SONY. I myself actually have the PS+ subscription on but in case I will need to cancel it in the future or discontinue it I will be good to know it needs the ‘auto renew” off to stop it.

    Thanks for the heads up!

  • rIcH

    Duh!!! Netflix and Lovefilm and other companies do this, its a no brainer realy the clue is in the “SUBSCRIPTION”

    • Liam

      You haven’t properly read the article, have you?!

  • pavlovic

    Read the terms and conditions. It is clear that you have to turn off the auto renewal option.

  • Lemondish

    Contact the bank and dispute the charge. Gather the evidence and provide it to your banker. You’ll have absolutely no troubles getting the charge reversed, though it’ll take some time.

  • Unkown

    dont every company do that?? plus sony did mention that you have to cancel it manually..

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