You’re short of cash. A loved one wants a PS4 for their Birthday. You decide that the only way you can fulfil this desire is to purchase a pre-owned machine.
You spend hours and hours trying to find one online within your price range. You look at eBay, in the classified ads section of your newspaper, you look on Gumtree.
You finally find what you’re looking for and you complete the purchase.
You get it home. You’re happy. You switch the PS4 on, and you go through the registration process for the Playstation Network and BAM….an error message appears;
‘Banned PS4 – Access To Playstation Network From This PS4 Has Been Banned Or Temporarily Suspended – WS-37338-4′
We unknowingly dispatched a machine with this problem to a customer this week. Fortunately for them they are dealing with a reputable business and we are arranging a replacement after speaking with Sony and getting nowhere. An unscrupulous customer traded this machine in with us, and has put us in a very awkward situation.
For those who are unfamiliar with this fault, here are some answers to some frequently asked questions associated with this issue. We gathered this information from a discussion with ‘Gavin’ at Sony PSN Support on the afternoon of June 20th 2015.
Where do I stand?
If you purchased from a business, they may have some liability and will probably exchange or refund you.
What if I purchased from a private individual?
Then you are in the proverbial. You may have some protection if you purchased via eBay and paid using a card, but ultimately you’ve got a bricked machine, and the seller could shun responsibility.
Why was the machine banned?
We found Sony to be pretty unhelpful in this regard. It was explained to us that in 90% of cases where PS4s are banned from the Playstation Network (PSN) that it is because of user accrued debt.
For those unfamiliar with this, this is when someone makes purchases via the PSN Store on their PSN account for things like in game purchases (Fifa Ultimate Team Packs/Call Of Duty and Battlefield Weapons/Map Packs), or for purchasing downloadable versions of games and then calling up card issuers and claiming that cards were used without cardholder’s permission and the money is recalled. Sony then put a ban on the machine until the debt is recovered.
Sony explained that they never ban for anything less than £100 in debt.
Machines can also be banned for hacking, or other violations.
Can the PS4 be unbanned?
This is where things get messy – we were told that the only way the sanction could be lifted on our machine is if the debt was paid.
But I didn’t accrue this debt, it’s not my debt! Will Sony take this into consideration?
In short, no. We made every effort to explain the situation to Sony and even offered to send them a copy of the purchase receipt showing the purchase date and therefore that the machine came into our possession AFTER the debt was accrued. Obviously we could prove that we were in no way affiliated with the previous owner and therefore how terribly unfair it is that we’d purchased a banned machine.
The response – this is largely irrelevant, Sony’s policy is that the only way to remove a debt related restriction is to pay the debt.
Surely Sony wouldn’t allow/expect me to pay someone else’s debt?
Sadly, this is not correct. It was repeatedly stressed to us that this was the only way to remove the restriction.
Therefore, it was explained that to unban the PS4, we would be required to pay off the debt (of at least £100 remember) accrued by the previous owner of the machine who we had no relationship with.
At this point we ended the call. Gavin was really pleasant, helpful and empathetic. Unfortunately though, Sony have what we can only describe as a completely ridiculous policy on this.
So picture this; You give a preowned PS4 as a gift to your loved one, that you’ve bought privately and saved religiously for and essentially it’s a giant paperweight if the person who owned it before is an unscrupulous person who conned Sony out of a few downloadable games or add-ons. But more unscrupulous is the charlatan Sony policy that dictates that if you happen to be unfortunate enough to purchase a banned console, that you must literally pay for the previous owner’s mistakes before they remove forced sanctions on your machine.
Can companies as big as Sony really behave in this way? Surely this is the kind of thing that Watchdog should be notified about?
In any event, commercially it’s a backwards policy. Not least because it engenders a really negative view of Sony’s company and products, but also because surely by allowing a new user access to their services they at least stand some chance of recuperating any financial losses!
The moral of the story? Try to avoid buying this kind of stuff privately, but if you do, always ask the previous owner to connect to their PSN account on the machine to show you that it’s fully functional in online mode.
Sometimes paying an extra £20 and buying from a reputable business can save you a lot more in headaches.
If you’ve got one of these machines and you’re in a pickle, get in touch with us and we will try and help in any way we can. At the very least we can offer a parts value on the machine in part exchange against one of our stock units and try and get you gaming again.