ASA and Consumer Direct open doors to 3DS complaints

The 3DS sickness palaver continues. The world and its wheezing, knackered old dog are leaping to Nintendo’s defence despite testimony TechEye has seen where consumers are uncomfortable with the fact the 3DS is making them… uncomfortable.

Some reports are leaping to refute claims that the 3DS has been returned due to sickness, however they have been sent out by, er, Nintendo, Game and HMV where the corporate line from a PR team has been duly reported as a fact.

The main problem here seems to be in the way the 3DS is being sold. Although at Game branches there is a try-before-you-buy unit available in-store, Nintendo adverts seem to downplay adverse effects that could be experienced through playing with the 3D switch on or at high levels.

What many consumers may not be aware of is the way the 3DS works – by using parallax to trick the eyes, with quickly flashing stripes, into seeing images emerge from the screen. It does place a strain on the eyes for some.

The defence is that no one should be gaming for an extended amount of time anyway. But realistically that’s not going to be the case – many kids are happy to stare at their systems for hours and would not take a break unless told to do so. Speaking to TechEye, the ASA tells us advertising can be “misleading by omission, or not putting in relevant information.”

“But in this case, we’d have to look at the facts before we made a decision. We don’t expect companies to put every little bit of info into their ads, and possibly the part about some people not being able to see 3D wouldn’t have to go in, as these people would know. The best thing to do if people aren’t happy is to make a formal complaint to us and we’ll look into it.”

A legal grey area arises because, although the complaints are there, and we have it under good authority that retailers are receiving returns specifically for comfort reasons, the 3DS may not technically fall under the category of faulty.

The Office of Fair Trading tells us that it’s a criminal offence for a trader to sell unsafe consumer goods. Like with the ASA, “it would be advisable for consumers to report instances to Consumer Direct as they would be able to refer any potential safety matters to Trading Standards, who may wish to take further action if there is need to do so”.

Is the product at “fault” if it does what it says on the box? The 3DS does issue warnings in the small print and it does deliver 3D. The Office of Fair Trading tells TechEye: “Customers could claim that there is a fault with a product if it made them ill, but the trader would probably request evidence of this.

“The customer may wish to gather evidence to support the claim including independent verification, for example, a doctor’s note.”