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.