Zavvi, the games and movie store formerly known as Virgin, has reportedly threatened customers with legal action after sending them PlayStation Vita consoles instead of the game they ordered.
An unknown number of seemingly lucky shoppers hit the jackpot when they ordered Tearaway, a £20 game for Sony's handheld device that was yesterday named PS Vita Game of the Year by our esteemed colleagues at GameSpot. Instead they received the Tearaway PS Vita bundle, worth £150.
Zavvi contacted customers who'd had the apparent windfall and asked for it back, but when some refused, citing the UK's Distance Selling regulations, which say you're entitled to keep goods you haven't asked for without paying for them, it sent a strongly worded letter.
A copy of this letter was published on the DarkZero gaming blog, saying, "If you fail to contact us... to arrange a convenient time for the PS Vita to be collected we reserve the right to enforce any and/or all legal remedies to us."
The Hut Group, the company that owns Zavvi, told the BBC the letter was genuine. I've contacted them for more information and comment and will update when I hear more.
Sorry, you have to send it back
Unfortunately for the stubborn gamers in question, the law is on Zavvi's side. The Distance Selling regs cited above cover when someone sends you something on purpose, with the intention of forcing you to pay for them.
"But if goods are sent to you by mistake, you need to contact whoever sent them to let them know and ask them to collect the goods," says the Citizens Advice Bureau on its website. "You might get goods sent by mistake if they are meant for someone else or you’ve been sent duplicate or extra items on top of what you ordered."
It's Zavvi's responsibility to collect the mistakenly sent console at its expense, but you have to give it the opportunity to do so. Having said that, it obviously hasn't made it clear to its customers -- whom you can't blame for not knowing the finer points of consumer regulations -- what the legal situation is, and should have done so rather more tactfully, perhaps offering a free game as a thank you.
The PS Vita suffered from a lack of games in its first year, but has blossomed into a thriving platform for indie games and leftfield titles like Tearaway. It also benefits from tight integration with the PS4, acting as a second screen for the new console.
Did you get a 'free' Vita from Zavvi? Do you think it should have let people keep it as a goodwill gesture before Christmas? Or should people just get over it and send back what's not theirs? Leave a free gift in the comments, or over on our well regulated Facebook page.