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PS4 pre-order ransom is illegal, says Trading Standards

Consumer rights enforcer calls for "injunctive action"

SimplyGames' policy of holding PS4s from customers unless they pay for an expensive unofficial bundle has been branded as "profiteering" and "illegal" by Trading Standards.

SimplyGames has told customers they must pay for more games in order to retain their PS4 pre-orders

It emerged on Monday that a number of SimplyGames customers who have pre-ordered their PS4s were told they would now need to pay between £415 and £470 in order to stay in the pre-order queue for launch day. Those affected have been offered a choice of unofficial bundles, which are not affiliated with Sony.

Amid growing calls for the UK retailer to reverse its decision, company director Neil Muspratt told CVG that the pre-order ransomwould remain in place. He claimed that most customers were happy with the offer that forces them to pay more, and that "it's just commentators who have stirred it up".

Now Trading Standards, which enforces consumer related legislation across the UK, has said SimplyGames is not operating within the eyes of the law and that "swift injunctive action is needed" to block the retailer's practices.

"You can have a contract where the price agreed is the price at the time of delivery, such as a new car on a long waiting list. Here the seller cannot control the product price months down the line," a lead officer at the Trading Standards Institute told CVG.

"This appears to be profiteering. The seller is raising the price hoping people either drop out or pay more. If they drop out the seller can resell at a higher price to another customer".

On Tuesday, CVG asked Muspratt whether he considered if SimplyGames may be acting outside of the law with its pre-order policy.

"We would have considered that beforehand," he responded.

The Trading Standards officer disagreed: "It is illegal and up to the Home Authority to intervene if the seller is UK based. This is one of those occasions when swift injunctive action is needed to prevent consumers being ripped off."