Nintendo praises new rules for cracking down on customers who harass employees

Nintendo has received positive reviews after updating its customer service terms and conditions to allow it to refuse repairs and replacements to customers who are abusive or make unreasonable demands on its employees.

Users on social media praised the gaming giant’s move to protect consumer-facing employees from customer harassment. One expert said it “raises awareness and calls for social understanding” and the company’s example “will have a good impact on other businesses as well”.

The Kyoto-based maker of games and consoles updated its repair service rules in October, adding a new section on customer harassment.

In it, Nintendo states that it reserves the right to refuse to replace or repair a product if a customer threatens, verbally belittles, or deliberately remains in phone contact for extended periods of time.

A Nintendo PR official said: “We make our decisions after we reach our conclusions because our customers will understand because we have built a reputation for responding faithfully to our customers.”

An official from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare praised the company’s move, saying “some companies are starting to take a firm stand on the issue, which is effective.”

But unlike sexual harassment or workplace bullying, Japan has no legal control over customer harassment. The text is not binding, although the Ministry of Labour mentioned this in a company guidance manual prepared in February.

Despite the lack of legal restrictions, companies in the service industry, where employees spend more time interacting with customers, have taken incremental steps to prevent customer harassment.

In 2016, taxi company Nihon Kotsu Co. included the terms of its contract of carriage, enabling it to deal with harassment from customers. The company said adding the clause would make legal responses to harassment cases easier.

Elsewhere, My Basket Co., a supermarket chain with a strong presence in the capital region, surveyed all of its in-store employees in March to see if they had been harassed by customers, after employees demanded an inquiry at union talks . My Basket says it intends to take concrete action on the outcome.

Hiromi Ikeuchi, a professor of social psychology at Kansai University and an expert in consumer psychology, said Nintendo’s decision was timely. “In recent years, social media posts have made harassment across industries visible and consumer attitudes are changing,” she said.

“As a result, Nintendo has managed to keep pace with the times and make decisions that society is willing to accept,” Ikeuchi added.

© Kyodo News

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