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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking Valve to court over the refund policy on the game distribution service Steam. The ACCC says this specific policy goes against the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC website says Valve is responsible for “false or misleading representation” due to the following:
- consumers were not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam in any circumstances;
- Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality;
- Valve was not under any obligation to repair, replace or provide a refund for a game where the consumer had not contacted and attempted to resolve the problem with the computer game developer; and
- the statutory consumer guarantees did not apply to games sold by Valve.
Even though Valve does not have offices in Australia, it sells digital goods to the citizens of Australia, and that’s enough to take Valve to federal court. The Chairman of the ACCC, Rod Sims, said: “The Australian Consumer Law applies to any business providing goods or services within Australia. Valve may be an American based company with no physical presence in Australia, but it is carrying on business in Australia by selling to Australian consumers, who are protected by the Australian Consumer Law.”
Valve also offers an exception to its refund policy [As with most software products, unless required by local law, we do not offer refunds or exchanges on games, DLC or in-game items purchased on our website or through the Steam Client. Please review Section 3 of the Steam Subscriber Agreement for more information], but according to the Chairman, who is aware of that part of the policy, he states: “But there’s a lot of text that uses language that says all sort of stuff about warranties and denies rights. Just having one disclaimer doesn’t void that.”
Valve’s Doug Lombardi said: “We are making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter, while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers.”
[Source]: Kotaku Australia: The ACCC is suing Valve [http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/08/the-accc-is-suing-valve/]; The ACCC On Valve’s Refund Policy: “We Had To Take It To Court” [http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/08/the-accc-on-valves-refund-policy-we-had-to-take-it-to-court/]; Valve responds to being sued by the ACCC [http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/08/valve-responds-to-being-sued-by-the-accc/].