Valve are under fire from Australia’s Consumer Rights Commision over Steam’s long criticised refund policy. Australia’s Consumer Rights Commission is suing Valve over the following points:
- 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.
“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,” stated ACCC chairman Rod Sims. “Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault.”
“The consumer guarantees provided under the Australian Consumer Law cannot be excluded, restricted or modified,” he added.
Valve have often been criticised by many, including myself, for what are rather draconian rules regarding refunds, especially given how many game’s today release in poor or even broken condition. Valve’s stance has remained simple: there are no refunds, though at times exceptions have been made. Recently an exception was made for Colin McRae Rally after a slew of negative reviews by fans who felt that had been misled. Furthermore customers have been able to contact support, and get refunds, though these remain relatively rare occurrences.
Speaking to Kotaku Valve stated that they are willing to co-operate:
“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.”
This does raise some questions, though. In order to comply with Australian law, and presumably in order to continue allowing Steam in the country, Valve will need to alter their policies. Should they do this worldwide then there’s going to be a lot of people have to see the old Steam regime fall, yet if Valve opt to only chance the rules for Australian customers the there’s going to be a hellstorm of very angry gamers to contend with demanding to know why they don’t get the same treatment.