Australia's competition and consumer rights watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is taking Washington-based gaming monolith Valve to court for contravening Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC is alleging Valve's refund policy breaches consumer law by not providing refunds of any kind.
The ACCC alleges that Valve made false or misleading representations to Australian customers of Steam that:
- 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.
“The Australian Consumer Law applies to any business providing goods or services within Australia,” explained ACCC Chairman Rod Sims. “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.
“It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that they do not give refunds under any circumstances, including for gifts and during sales. Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The consumer guarantees provided under the Australian Consumer Law cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.”
Valve's Doug Lombardi said the company would work with authorities. “We are making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter,” Lombardi said, “while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers.”
Valve doesn't have an Australian office.
The matter is set for a first directions hearing in the Federal Court, Sydney on 7 October 2014.
Steam often features huge sales with games up to 90% off, like the Summer sale held back in June this year.