European Commission May Investigate Joy-Con Drift Complaints

The European Consumer Organization (BEUC), an umbrella entity of 45 different European consumer protection groups, has submitted a complaint against Nintendo to the European Commission over the continuing problems of Joy-Con drift.

BEUC states it has received over 25,000 complaints across Europe regarding the problem found in Nintendo Switch and Switch Pro controllers. The complaint alleges premature obsolescence and “misleading omissions of key consumer information” and is asking for a continent-wide investigation into the matter. BEUC also demands Nintendo “urgently address the premature failure of its products.”

The complaint submitted to the EC states that Nintendo has violated Articles 6 and 7 of the Directive on Business to Consumer Unfair Commercial Practices (which covers misleading actions and omissions), Article 9 (covering “aggressive practices” such as harassment, coercion, or undue influence involving exploitation of positions of power), and Article 5 (a general clause which deems practices unfair if they are “contrary to the requirements of professional diligence” or “materially distort the economic behavior with regard to the product of the average consumer”).

“Consumers assume the products they buy to last an appropriate amount of time according to justified expectations, not to have to pay for expensive replacements due to a technical defect. Nintendo must now come up with proper solutions for the thousands of consumers affected by this problem,” wrote BEUC Director General Monique Goyens. “It’s high time for companies to stop putting products onto the market that break too early. Creating unnecessary electronic waste completely goes against the objectives of the European Green Deal. To help combat this problem and to help consumers make the right purchase decision, manufacturers should be obliged to provide pre-purchase information on product durability to help consumers make both more informed and more sustainable choices”

Food For Thought

Despite the phenomena being heavily reported (and recently being heavily litigated), this is still not a slam dunk. Nintendo’s repair policies before the drift issue popped up the public’s radar were arguably insufficient. But even if Nintendo had a redesigned controller with longer life to it ready to ship today, that would not help any current Switch owners. Moreover, it’s going to be hard to prove “premature obsolescence” without documentation out of Nintendo indicating they knew the controllers would have a shorter lifespan than the console.

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