I have played Nintendo games for 30+ years and I love them. They have been a big part of my life in many ways and I had always thought Nintendo was a company that was thoughtful about its audience and its customers.
However, my recent experiences have led me to conclude that they do not, in fact, give a flying tanooki suit about us and that the Nintendo Account Shop, in particular, is set up simply to squeeze every drop of money it can out of gamers.
We have multiple Nintendo consoles in our household, as well as using Nintendo’s mobile games, and have spent many thousands of hours playing these, as a family and individually. We also own other consoles – a PS4 and a PS5 – and use those as well – but despite this, according to my sums, we have collectively spent £350 in the past couple of years with Nintendo, exclusively on games and online services. No small sum – or, at least, not to us.
By the time you add the cost of the consoles themselves, physical games and other accessories like controllers we have spent a small fortune with Nintendo over the years.
You might think Nintendo would have an interest in keeping customers like us. Apparently not, though.
Our kid wanted to get a new game they were excited about on their DS. The cost was £24.99 and they had saved up their pocket money, so asked if they could give me the money and I could transfer money to their Nintendo Network ID (NNID), so that they could buy it.
Now, it is important to note that an NNID is not the same thing as a Nintendo Account, even though they sound like pretty much the same thing. You can’t transfer funds directly to an NNID, so instead have to associate it with the separately-created Nintendo Account and transfer funds to that.
However, we had created a Nintendo Child Account previously, for use on the Switch, and it was already associated with the NNID – so, thankfully, that was one bit of unintuitive admin we didn’t have to do this time.
As is intended to be the case (as far as I can tell) we also have a separate Nintendo Parent Account, and have associated the Child Account by adding it to the Family Group:
Now, to begin with, you can’t transfer just the amount you need (which is what, say, the PlayStation store allows) – instead you have to transfer multiples of £10:
Are you able to refund any excess funds? No. So, unless you buy something further from the store (and there’s not much for under £5), you have effectively given Nintendo an extra fiver.
Very annoying, I thought, but we buy stuff quite often, so it will probably get used at some point, so I will do it – and transferred £30 to the Parent account.
However, I eventually discovered that this is not how you are supposed to do it. Of course, there are no clear instructions on how this is supposed to work, but nonetheless it is something I am now being penalised for.
I contacted Nintendo support to ask and it turns out that the secret hidden way you have to do this is to log in to the Child Account online, add card details to that, add funds to that account and then and only then will it be available to the NNID.
This seems very odd and counter intuitive to me as, surely, most of the point of having a Parent / Child account setup is to provide security around things like card details, make sure kids can’t accidentally spend money, and so on?
Anyway, I thought, given how confusing this is, it must happen all the time, and Nintendo are a reasonable company, so there must be something they can do, right?
Can I transfer the money from the Parent Account to the Child Account?
- No. Transfers are apparently completely impossible in Nintendo’s system.
Can I associate the NNID with the Parent Account instead?
- In theory, yes. But, in practice, the date of birth has to match, so…
Can I change the date of birth on either the NNID or the Parent Account so they match and it can be associated?
- No. That is not permitted.
Can they refund the money in the Parent Account so I can instead put it on the Child Account?
- No. Because even thought I haven’t actually bought anything, I have technically bought some imaginary Nintendo currency and the terms and conditions say I have waived the right to distance buying protections, because I have already “received” my purchase of this otherwise useless currency. I’m not at all convinced that isn’t in breach of statutory rights, but it’s certainly a very disingenuous line to draw.
So, after approaching a month of to-ing and fro-ing with Nintendo support, they have so far not been able to suggest any solution to my problem that does not involve either:
- Writing off the £30 sat in my parent account and paying again
- Forcing the use of a new NNID on the DS, meaning all saved game data will be lost / reset
I have also not yet even been able to get them to refer the case to a manager, despite repeatedly asking.
What I have now done is cancel every single subscription we have with Nintendo, and it is highly likely I will not spend any money with them ever again. So I hope they make the most of the £30 they stole, because – notwithstanding a SPECTACULAR change in the customer service I have received – it is the very last penny they will be getting out of me.
I suggest that if you are making any purchases on the Nintendo Store, you look very carefully at whether you are doing it in exactly the right way, otherwise, it seems, you are essentially just throwing your money into a pit (Nintendo’s bank account) where it can never be retrieved.
Please do circulate this to anyone else who might use the Nintendo store, in case they end up caught in the same trap and lose their money too.