A hot potato: Buying an expensive device only to find it breaks within days would make anyone angry at the manufacturer, but taking your rage out on its employees isn't helpful. Nintendo Japan is taking a stand against abuse directed at its workers by refusing to repair or replace items if a person acts in an abusive way or makes an unreasonable request.

The Japan Times writes that Nintendo has been receiving praise from social media users for updating its customer service terms and conditions in October to include a new section on harassment by customers.

The company's Japanese arm has asked customers to refrain from using any actions that go beyond what is socially acceptable as a means of fulfilling a request. These include

  • intimidation or threats
  • insulting or denigrating remarks
  • invasion of privacy
  • excessive demands, such as for a free repair when the warranty has expired
  • demanding an apology from Nintendo or its staff without reasonable cause
  • excessively repeating the same request or complaint
  • defamatory comments on social networks or websites

If Nintendo deems any of these actions have taken place, it could refuse to replace or repair a faulty product. It adds that if any of the conduct is considered to be malicious, the company will contact the authorities and take appropriate action.

A PR official at Nintendo said, "We made the decision after concluding our customers would understand because of the reputation we have built of faithfully responding to them."

One expert said Nintendo Japan had "improved awareness and called for societal understanding" and that the company's example would "have a good effect on other businesses, too."

While Japan has laws against bullying in the workplace, there are no similar legal protections for employees when the abuse comes from customers.

Most of the actions Nintendo lists as beyond socially acceptable should be universally condemned: intimidations, threats, insults, etc. But there are a few on that list that could prove controversial. Customers are sometimes forced to repeat the same (reasonable) request or complaint if a company refuses to address it. Elsewhere, Nintendo will be the one that decides what constitutes "reasonable cause" or "excessive demands."

The biggest point of contention might be the "defamatory comments on social networks or websites" action. Some companies, not necessarily Nintendo, often ignore legitimate complaints from customers until they draw enough attention to the injustice on social media, as this writer can attest. If someone tweets that a company is "crap" because they've genuinely been treated poorly, will that be considered defamatory?

Ultimately, though, the rule change should dissuade people from being abusive to staff who weren't responsible for that broken Nintendo Switch they just bought. And that can only be a good thing.