Nintendo Japan takes a stance on customer mistreatment of its employees by refusing to repair or replace items if a person is abusive or makes an unreasonable request.
The Japan Times reported that Nintendo received praise from social media users for its October update to its terms of customer service, which included a new section on employee harassment by customers.
The company’s Japanese arm has asked customers to refrain from actions that go beyond what is socially acceptable as a means of fulfilling the request. They include e.g.
- intimidation or threats
- offensive or derogatory remarks
- invasion of privacy
- excessive demands such as free repair when the warranty has expired
- demanding an apology from Nintendo or company personnel without good cause
- excessive repetition of the same request or complaint
- defamatory comments on social networks or websites
If Nintendo believes that any of these actions have taken place, Nintendo may refuse to replace or repair the defective product. It added that if any of the behavior is deemed malicious, the company will contact the authorities and take appropriate action.
A Nintendo spokesperson said: “We made the decision after recognizing that our customers would understand it because of the reputation we’ve built by carefully handling complaints.”
One expert said that Nintendo Japan “raised awareness and called for public understanding” and that the company’s example “will have a good impact on other companies as well.”
While Japan has laws against workplace bullying, there is no similar legal protection for employees when clients do it.
Most of the actions that Nintendo lists as beyond social acceptance should be widely condemned: intimidation, threats, insults, etc. But there are a few on this list that may prove controversial. Customers are sometimes forced to repeat the same (legitimate) request or complaint if the company refuses to address it. Elsewhere, Nintendo will decide what constitutes “just cause” or “excessive demands.”
The biggest point of contention may be “defamatory comments on social networks or websites”. Some companies, not necessarily Nintendo, often ignore legitimate customer complaints until they pay enough attention to social media injustice. If someone tweets that the company is “shit” because they have actually been mistreated, will that be considered defamation?
Ultimately though, the policy change should discourage people from being abusive to staff who weren’t responsible for the broken Nintendo Switch.