Games and video chain store Xtra-vision has backtracked on a policy forcing customers, who had pre-ordered the XBoxOne console, to purchase an additional game before being given their machine.
Customers in Northern Ireland and the Republic attempting to collect their games consoles, following launch last Friday, were told by the company that they had to buy the additional game at the cost of around £40. This was despite having paid for the console in advance.
Angry customers contacted the Belfast Telegraph and took to social media to vent their anger at the decision.
Robert Mullan, 26, from Limavady, told the Belfast Telegraph: "I didn't agree to buy a game as I am against this policy and would rather take my business elsewhere. However I would have no chance of getting another console before Christmas and that's where they have people cornered. I'm angered with this myself but also for the other customers.
"I spoke to a manager at my local store and he said that Microsoft and Sony told them to do this."
However both Microsoft and Sony firmly denied this and said any decision to include additional extras on top of the console purchase or bundles is a decision made by the individual retailer.
When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Xtra-vision's head office in Dublin refused to comment or elaborate further on the policy. On Monday the company's public relations agency O'Leary PR said that they will not discuss the issue with the media except to say that PS4 pre-orders will not be subject to this policy.
Xtra-vision has now reversed the decision on XBoxOne and agreed that consumers who pre-ordered consoles do not have to purchase an additional game in order to collect their device.
It has emerged that National Consumer Agency in the Republic intervened in the dispute and got assurances from the company that it would cancel the rule and offer refunds to anyone who has already paid up and has an unopened game.
Karen O'Leary, chief executive at the consumer watchdog, said the agreement was in line with retail rules.
"This action will result in an immediate and real benefit for consumers," she said.
"If consumers have pre-ordered and paid a deposit or in full for a product, then a contract is in place and unless the contract provides otherwise, consumers should not have any additional charges or conditions imposed upon them."
In a statement released on Tuesday Xtra-vision said: "In response to the situation regarding pre-orders of XBoxOne consoles in Xtra-vision stores, Xtra-vision can confirm that from today onwards, any person who collects their pre-ordered XBoxOne console at any Xtra-vision store will not have to purchase an additional game in order to receive their console.”
“Customers who have already collected their XBoxOne console and purchased an additional game can return the unopened game to the Xtra-vision branch where the purchase was made between November 22nd and November 26th, and the cost of the game will be refunded on presentation of proof of purchase,” it continued.
The company concluded its statement by saying that it regretted “any upset or inconvenience that may have been caused to customers”.
The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland said: "A trader cannot change the contract by insisting that you either buy a game or any accessories. This was not part of the initial contract. By insisting you buy other products the trader is in breach of contract. They should either allow you to buy the game console only as originally contracted or to release you from the contract and provide a full refund."
Xtra-vision, which entered receivership in April, was bought by Hilco Capital Ireland in June. Hilco also owns the HMV chain in Ireland and the UK. Sony's PS4 console is released on Friday.
- By Gary Fennelly