German Court Bans Vague Dates like "Coming Soon" in Marketing and Sales

llien

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Feb 1, 2017
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Vague dates like "coming soon" or "shipping soon" to lure pre-orders is outlawed in Germany, after a Munich Regional High Court ruling, in which a litigant took reseller MediaMarkt to court over excessive delivery delays. For any retailer to sell a pre-order for a commodity or a digital software license (i.e. take payment before product launch date), the reseller must specify the exact date of on which the product will be delivered. In other words, the onus is on the reseller to specify when a buyer will have the product or digital license in their possession, before making the sale, and ensure that the product reaches the consumer on or before the specified date.

Resellers that are unable to specify a delivery date would be breaking the law by soliciting pre-orders. The new ruling bolsters Germany's consumer rights laws, which are among the strictest in the world. German consumers are already within their rights to return a product they don't like for no reason, within a finite amount of time after the sale. If a retailer delivers later than the specified delivery date, the consumer can refuse the product and become eligible for a full refund. Perhaps the biggest impact of this ruling will fall on the real-estate industry. Real-estate developers taking payments from home-buyers before the completion of the development (i.e. transfer of possession) of a property, must be ready to cough up a full-refund (adjusted by inflation), if the buyer doesn't get possession on the agreed delivery date.

techpowerup

I guess we can kiss pre-orders goodbye over here....
 

B_Signal

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May 28, 2014
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The dates for retail games are usually set weeks and weeks in advance, sometimes months (and months), so preorders should be fine for new games. Working in online retail, when stuff goes out of stock, you don't always have an exact date for when it's coming back in until right before it arrives, that could be a bit of a problem
 

Pheace

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Jul 18, 2015
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Is there anything preventing them from just pulling a date out of thin air?
 

Ulysses 31

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Nov 24, 2013
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oops misread,

Seems sensible provided delivery services are reliable.
 
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Allandor

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Feb 8, 2018
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Vague dates like "coming soon" or "shipping soon" to lure pre-orders is outlawed in Germany, after a Munich Regional High Court ruling, in which a litigant took reseller MediaMarkt to court over excessive delivery delays. For any retailer to sell a pre-order for a commodity or a digital software license (i.e. take payment before product launch date), the reseller must specify the exact date of on which the product will be delivered. In other words, the onus is on the reseller to specify when a buyer will have the product or digital license in their possession, before making the sale, and ensure that the product reaches the consumer on or before the specified date.

Resellers that are unable to specify a delivery date would be breaking the law by soliciting pre-orders. The new ruling bolsters Germany's consumer rights laws, which are among the strictest in the world. German consumers are already within their rights to return a product they don't like for no reason, within a finite amount of time after the sale. If a retailer delivers later than the specified delivery date, the consumer can refuse the product and become eligible for a full refund. Perhaps the biggest impact of this ruling will fall on the real-estate industry. Real-estate developers taking payments from home-buyers before the completion of the development (i.e. transfer of possession) of a property, must be ready to cough up a full-refund (adjusted by inflation), if the buyer doesn't get possession on the agreed delivery date.

techpowerup

I guess we can kiss pre-orders goodbye over here....
I think you totally misunderstant that.
Preorders are still possible, but there must be at least a vague delivery date. If they can't hold it, you can cancel your preorder at no cost.

btw, preorders (month or years before the release date) is really bad for consumers especially with games. It is almost the same as season-passes. You buy something without really knowing what it is.
 

recma12

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Jul 3, 2018
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Another German bullshit court ruling as always.
We can't help ourselves, we need to be as pedantic and strict as possible.

Now it's the resellers fault when a Kojima or Rockstar game is delayed?

Everybody knows that games don't release with pinpoint accuracy and people are cool with it.
 

phil_t98

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Oct 10, 2014
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all that will happen is games won't get announced in Germany till theres a set date, they will be announced elsewhere as coming soon but not Germany
 

recma12

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I think you totally misunderstant that.
Preorders are still possible, but there must be at least a vague delivery date. If they can't hold it, you can cancel your preorder at no cost.

btw, preorders (month or years before the release date) is really bad for consumers especially with games. It is almost the same as season-passes. You buy something without really knowing what it is.
Thing is, I usually don't preorder but sometimes I did it to gain BETA access and later cancelled my pre order. I was always able to cancel my preorders without stating a reason on big German websites.
In one instance (South Park But Whole game on PSN) the delay was so bad, that Sony cancelled my pre order automatically.

Really don't think this whole situation needed to be fixed. Nobody pre ordered Red Dead 2 two years ago an expected a super accurate release date.

And honestly, why doesn't the consumer get to decide himself what's good/bad for him with his own fucking money?

I really hate this German "nanny state" bullshit.
 

Spukc

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Jan 24, 2015
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Nice lootboxes under stress bullshit preorders under stress.

Heat that shit up.

Love it
 

MayauMiao

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Thing is, I usually don't preorder but sometimes I did it to gain BETA access and later cancelled my pre order. I was always able to cancel my preorders without stating a reason on big German websites.
In one instance (South Park But Whole game on PSN) the delay was so bad, that Sony cancelled my pre order automatically.

Really don't think this whole situation needed to be fixed. Nobody pre ordered Red Dead 2 two years ago an expected a super accurate release date.

And honestly, why doesn't the consumer get to decide himself what's good/bad for him with his own fucking money?

I really hate this German "nanny state" bullshit.
Speaking of super accurate release date:

 

Louis Cyphre

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Jun 5, 2011
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Another German bullshit court ruling as always.
We can't help ourselves, we need to be as pedantic and strict as possible.

Now it's the resellers fault when a Kojima or Rockstar game is delayed?

Everybody knows that games don't release with pinpoint accuracy and people are cool with it.
Then maybe they ought to get their shit in order and not sell a game they know won't be making those release dates. Why sell games months in advance anyways?
 

Shifty.

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Sep 25, 2015
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Oh damn, that's super consumer-friendly. Bring this worldwide please.

And honestly, why doesn't the consumer get to decide himself what's good/bad for him with his own fucking money?
I'm curious- from your perspective, what is the practical difference between being able to pre-order before a product has a hard release date, versus having to wait until a date is set?

Because from where I'm standing, the only conclusion I can draw is that it's about time and being able to get in as early as possible. There's nothing stopping you from earmarking the money for a preorder when a product is announced, and then making that preorder when a date is set- you're going to be waiting until release to receive it one way or the other, so what's the problem?
 
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BANGS

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Normally I'd say this is a non-issue but considering you can't cancel digital preorders in a lot of cases I get it...
 

lukilladog

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Feb 6, 2018
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If you are buying a promise, the least the seller can do is to give a date. Gives the consumer every right to ask for their money back in case the product isn´t delivered. Fanboys can wait all the time in the world, but it doesn´t mean other people should wait with them all embracing stupidity.
 

diablos991

Can’t stump the diablos
Jun 15, 2013
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Damn that’s a good precedent.

One can only hope this spreads.

Anti consumer practices in this industry need to be curtailed.
 

battletrax

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Jun 6, 2014
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Id imagine all the retailers in Germany will change "Coming Soon" to "Right around the corner".

All jokes aside, this is needed for games like Duke Nukem Forever. Which had 15 years of delays.
 

Ogbert

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Feb 21, 2018
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Would like to know what the definition of a 'reseller' is.

Does the Switch eShop qualify as a reseller, if Nintendo is offering a third party, indie title?

This looks to be more aimed at online Merchants rather than publishers. Could be wrong though.
 

LordPezix

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Feb 7, 2017
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Nice lootboxes under stress bullshit preorders under stress.

Heat that shit up.

Love it
Aye, Aye Captain!

We'll have these freeloadin snake tongued swashbucklin land lubbas down to good Ol' Davy Jones in short orrddaaa!!!
 

recma12

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Jul 3, 2018
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I'm curious- from your perspective, what is the practical difference between being able to pre-order before a product has a hard release date, versus having to wait until a date is set?

Because from where I'm standing, the only conclusion I can draw is that it's about time and being able to get in as early as possible. There's nothing stopping you from earmarking the money for a preorder when a product is announced, and then making that preorder when a date is set- you're going to be waiting until release to receive it one way or the other, so what's the problem?
Answer: It doesn't matter either way, so I don't see the need to regulate this "problem" by German courts.

Do you really believe that people who preordered Death Stranding or Last of Us II even expect an accurate release date? Consumers know the drill and all the pro's and con's.
I believe that those consumers who pre order super early know what they're doing. And again, most places don't even bill before shipping and I never had any issues cancelling a pre order whatsoever.
 

recma12

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Jul 3, 2018
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Speaking of super accurate release date:

Yeah, let's cherrypick the one game that historically (IIRC) had the longest delay. Let's also ignore the thing is says right on the receipt.
FFS the guy spent 10$ for a reservation and I'm fairly sure he could have gotten that money back from Gamestop at any point during the 15 years or so.
 

1.21Gigawatts

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Nov 24, 2012
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Have they indicated when this ruling comes into effect? :unsure:
There is nothing to come into effect.
Its not a law. It just sets precedent. Meaning that going forward consumers have an easy case and most retailers will probably refrain from selling pre orders to products for which they don't have specific release dates yet.
But then again, the worst thing that can happen is that they have to refund preorders, so I would assume that they will keep selling pre orders, even without release dates, but make them fully refundable at any point in time for no specific reason.
 
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Allandor

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Feb 8, 2018
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Answer: It doesn't matter either way, so I don't see the need to regulate this "problem" by German courts.

Do you really believe that people who preordered Death Stranding or Last of Us II even expect an accurate release date? Consumers know the drill and all the pro's and con's.
I believe that those consumers who pre order super early know what they're doing. And again, most places don't even bill before shipping and I never had any issues cancelling a pre order whatsoever.
Well, now you are cherry-picking. good for you, but you are not the norm ;)
 
Sep 19, 2017
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Is it also for politics, such as X reform sold as a priority in the 6 months in the campaign is coming sooner or later who knows maybe, or is it just a video game thing? It would be great if this apply to other domains. (sorry for the 1st post)
 

Fbh

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So before this you couldn't get a refund for pre orders ?

Because otherwise I don't see how this makes a big difference
 

Neo_GAF

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Oct 4, 2017
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after seeing what they did with the season passes for batman arkham whatever, i simply dislike all kinds of DLC (except smash, splatoon and rockstar).

seeing what companies are doing is simply not ok. for a very long time i thought: i dont even know whats coming out for this game, so why is there already a pre-order?

good to see that germans have some sense when it comes to logic rulings.